Private student loans

A page within Financial Aid

Students who need additional funds for education, beyond what was awarded on their financial aid offer, might consider a private student loan. These loans are from a lender and are not guaranteed by the federal government. Approval of a private student loan is based on creditworthiness. Most students will require a co-signer.

The student should file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine eligibility for federal and state aid before applying for a private student loan.

  • Students may choose any lender for their private student loans. The entire process, from application to disbursement, will generally take three weeks.
  • Applications for student loans will require a loan period. For Fall only, put September through December. For the entire academic year, put September through May. For academic year loans, half will disburse in Fall and the other half will disburse in Spring.
  • Most private student loans require borrowers to apply with a co-signer, who promises to repay the loan if the student borrower fails to do so. There are times that PLUS and Graduate PLUS borrowers will need an endorser, which is much like a co-signer.
  • Only borrow what is needed. Borrowing the maximum amount available can often result in the student receiving a rather large refund after paying their university charges. For assistance with determining a precise amount to borrow, use our "Calculating how much you need to borrow for college" handout. The maximum that can be borrowed is indicated on the student's offer as "Your Other Loan Eligibility".
  • Tutorial Video: Determining How Much to Borrow
  • Tutorial Video: What is "Other Loan Eligibility"

Choosing a lender


FASTChoice is a free tool that provides information about 20+ lenders that UWL students have utilized. Students and their co-signers will find information about the range of interest rates offered, available borrower benefits, and other relevant information for each lender listed. Each lender will have an "apply" button that will take users directly to the application on the lender's website.

The lenders and loan options presented in FASTChoice were selected for the excellent terms and benefits they provide to borrowers. Our institution has worked with these lenders in the past, and previous borrowers had positive experiences working with them. You are free to choose any lender, including those not presented. 


Sparrow allows you to search and compare real, personalized private student loan rates at over 17 lenders through one simple, three-minute application. (Think of Sparrow as an Expedia for private student loans.) Sparrow can help you determine which private student loan best meets your unique financial situation.

Using Sparrow is free and does not impact your credit score.

How does Sparrow work? Watch a video demonstration here.