Alternative loans are available for non-degree seeking learners to meet non-credit program expenses. The lender will look at your credit history as well as other factors to determine if it will lend to you. You may be denied by one lender and approved by another because they interpret your information differently.
Before You Apply for an Alternative Loan
We recommend that you review many alternative loan lenders and research their policies and loan terms to decide which lender is best for you. We will process an alternative loan with the lender of your choice. Make sure lenders will approve loans for a non-degree certificate in an approved non-credit program.
Things to Consider when Selecting a Lender
Applications and Eligibility
Requirements vary according to lender. Some of the most common requirements are listed below.
- must be listed as the learner. The University of Florida does not participate in Parent Borrower Alternative Loans.
- must be a non-degree seeking learner in an approved non-credit program
- must be a creditworthy borrower or a borrower with a creditworthy co-signer
- may be required to be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen.
- must use school branch code: 001535-01 when requesting a loan from the lender.
Interest Rates and Fees
Many education loans involve fees. These fees are usually presented as a percentage of the requested loan amount. Fees are usually added to the amount you requested to borrow – but sometimes they are deducted from loan proceeds. You should consult your selected lender and read your promissory note carefully to determine the type of fee (if any) associated with your loan.
Some loans are more credit-sensitive than others. Alternative loans have specific qualifications and may have higher rates and fees for borrowers with less than perfect credit.
When shopping for an alternative loan, be aware that the advertised interest rate may be introductory or limited to highly qualified borrowers. The rate that you are offered may be considerably higher depending on your creditworthiness.
Repayment and Deferment
Deferment is an important principle in loans. Since in many cases learners do not have any income, lenders are often willing to allow deferment of payments while the borrower is enrolled in a non-credit program. During this time, interest may accrue, but the learner does not need to make any monthly payments. Some loans will allow you to pay the accruing interest during this time; these are called interest-only payments.
Deferment usually lasts from the time the money is taken until program completion, plus some additional number of months, called a “grace period.” (This is typically 6 to 12 months.) This will vary from lender to lender, and product to product, so check each loan for details.
Borrower benefits can significantly alter the cost of your loan. Make sure you research the fine print on a lender’s borrower benefits and keep up your end of the bargain.
Some borrower benefits can be lost if:
- You fail to continuously pay on time and/or discontinue the use of auto debit for your monthly payment
- Your loan is sold to another lender
Additionally, if you fail to keep meeting the requirements you may owe your lender the amount you have saved.
Where can I find alternative loan lenders?
- Your bank, credit union, or other financial institution can be a good place to start your search for a reputable lender; however, you should always compare several loan options or lenders.
- Use the internet. Search websites that list alternative lenders. Read consumer reports to help direct you to a good lender.
- Take your time and compare multiple lenders and loan programs. Remember, your decision will affect you for the life of your loan.
- Generally, a co-signer with good credit can help you secure a lower interest loan with no or low fees.
- Keep a copy of your loan application and other related documentation for your records.
- When speaking to lenders on the phone, always get the name of the person you are talking to. Once you decide on a loan, keep records of the lender’s address, phone number, and fax number so you can easily contact the lender if you have additional questions or need assistance.
- Check the status of your loan request by calling your lender’s borrower services department. Be sure you have supplied all required documents.
- Make sure your “Home Mailing Address” is up to date. Checks for alternative loans must be mailed, and an invalid address may cause long delays in receiving your money.
- Alternative loan applications will ask that you enter a requested loan period, or the dates for which you need a loan. When requesting a loan, you must have the non-credit program begin and end dates.
- When requesting a loan from the lender, the lender must use school branch code: 001535-01.
Questions to Ask Prospective Lenders
- What is the application process?
- Will the lender accept non-credit, non-degree seeking learners?
- What is the approximate time it takes to obtain a decision for loan approval?
- Who is eligible to borrow the loan? Is a co-signer required?
- Is there an option to release the co-signer at a later date?
- What are the credit criteria for loan approval?
- What is the minimum and maximum loan amount per year?
- What web-based services do you provide?
- Are there minimum enrollment requirements?
- Is the interest rate fixed or variable? If variable, how frequently can the rate change?
- Does the interest rate have a cap?
- Is the rate offered for a limited time only? For example, is it an introductory rate? What happens after the initial rate ends?
- Does the interest rate change when I enter repayment?
- What fees are applied to the loan and when and how are they applied?
- What is the Annual Percentage Rate (APR)?
- How often is loan interest capitalized?
- When does repayment begin?
- Is the interest and/or principal deferred while I am in the program?
- What are the terms and conditions for hardship deferments/forbearance?
- What is the maximum length of time for which I can receive my deferment?
- What are the repayment options and are there any repayment benefits?
- What is the definition of an “on-time” payment?
- Is there a penalty for early repayment?
- Is there a grace period after program completion?
- What borrower incentives or discounts are offered?
- How do I qualify for borrower incentives?
- Will I keep my benefits if my loan is sold?
- Under what circumstances can my benefits be lost?
- Is there an online interface to my account information?
- Does the lender provide toll-free customer service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?
- Does the lender sell their loans to a secondary lender market?
- If my loan is sold, when will it occur and how will I be notified?