Alternative Loans

Alternative loans are non-federal loans used to supplement financial aid for credit-worthy students and their families. Grand Valley always recommends that a student accept the Federal Direct Loan offered to them if they have filed a FAFSA. In general, the Federal Direct Loan program will have the lowest interest rate for the student borrower.

Grand Valley does not have a preferred lender agreement with any private loan lenders and will work with any lender a student requests. The first link to the right, "Explore Alternative Loan Products and Apply," will take you to a comprehensive listing of lenders that Grand Valley students have used over the past three years that uses our electronic service to certify alternative educational loans. You can filter the results to compare loan options to help choose the loan product that is right for you. The second link to the right, "Explore Additional Lenders and DACA Lenders" will list lenders that Grand Valley students have used over the past three years that have their own certification process. 

These are not exclusive or exhaustive lender lists and students are not required to select from these lenders. The Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships will honor requests to certify other alternative educational loans that do not appear on these listings.  



Researching Alternative Loans

If you are considering an alternative loan, there are many factors you should consider.

How much should I borrow?

There are limits to what a student and/or parent can borrow in an alternative loan. To know what the maximum is, please contact the Financial Aid Office.

Who should I borrow from?

Grand Valley maintains a list of suggested alternative loan lenders. There are many loan options for you to consider. The suggested alternative loan lenders list is for your consideration only. Grand Valley will certify any alternative loan for which you are approved.

Can I get an alternative loan if I'm less than part time?

Yes, there are loan programs out there for you to utilize. Review each lender's site individually for more information.

students near library

What is the processing timeline?

We recommend that you only apply for one alternative loan at a time. Our office will not know which loan to certify if you apply for more than one at a time. Once you have applied and accepted the loan, the following timeline applies:

  • Once you have accepted the final terms of the loan, you have 4 business days to decline the loan

  • If you do not decline the loan, the lender must then allow 3 additional business days for you (and your co-signer) to receive the disclosure statement in the mail

  • On the 8th business day after you accept the final terms of your loan, assuming no other changes are made, Grand Valley receives the loan disbursement and applies the funds to your account balance

What are the interest rates?

In general, most alternative loans use variable interest rates based on either Prime or LIBOR. Interest rates vary based on credit worthiness and the student's decision to pay on the loan while in school versus deferring repayment until after graduation.

What is the Self Certification Form?

In February 2010, Congress signed into law Title X of the Higher Education Opportunity Act. This law requires all students borrowing an alternative loan to complete a self-certification form before the loan can be certified by the schools. These forms are available from the lender of your loan and are typically included in the application process. The information needed to complete the form can be found in your myBanner account.

Apply for an Alternative Loan

Finding alternative ways to finish funding your college education can be confusing. Below are the necessary steps to take when applying for an alternative loan.

  1. Calculate your budget. Determine how much you need to borrow.

  2. Find out your credit history and score. You can get your credit history for free at or You typically have to purchase your credit score. Your credit history and score helps determine the interest rate of your alternative loan.

  3. Find a good cosigner. Traditionally you can receive a better interest rate, and avoid fees, by applying with a good cosigner.

  4. Research alternative loans. Grand Valley provides a suggested alternative loan lender list as a starting point, but we encourage you to research other lenders as well to determine the best option available to you. We do not endorse the lenders on our suggested lender list in any way. The lenders on our suggested lender list reflect the largest volume of alternative loans requested by Grand Valley students over the past 3-5 years.

  5. Apply. Most lenders have online applications and will also allow you to sign your promissory note electronically. Be sure to apply at least 1 month before your bill is due.

Page last modified January 13, 2022