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Financial Aid Department

Financial Aid Services Center

Private Loans

Due to certain eligibility limitations and availability of funds, some students may have a gap between their financial need and the amount of funds that federal, state, and institutional aid programs can provide. Private student loans offer one way to help fill the funding gap.

Private Educational Loans

Federal Financial Aid vs. Private Educational Loans

Several banks and lending agencies offer private educational loans to credit-worthy borrowers or to borrowers with credit-worthy cosigners. Borrowers are encouraged to carefully consider their options and needs before applying for a private loan.

Consider Federal, State And Institutional Financial Aid First

Students are encouraged to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) first to determine their eligibility for federal, state, and institutional aid. The FAFSA is available online at Western's priority deadline is January 31st of each year.

Students who are not eligible to complete the FAFSA may be eligible to apply for state funding by completing the Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA). Information is available at

Loans offered through the Federal Direct Loan program are generally more favorable than loans available through private lenders. Information is provided below to assist with comparing the differences between federal loans and private loans. Students must complete a FAFSA and all federal financial aid requirements to receive loans through the Federal Direct Loan program.

Have more questions or need help with your options? Please contact the Financial Aid Services Center and make an appointment with a financial aid counselor. We are happy to help!

Federal Student Loans vs. Private Student Loans
Federal Student Loans Private Student Loans
Borrowers will not have to start repaying federal student loans until the student graduates, leaves school, or reduces their enrollment status to less than half time. Many private student loans require payments while students are in school.
Federal loans offer fixed interest rates, which are often lower than private loans, and typically much lower than credit cards. Private student loans can have variable interest rates dependent on credit-worthiness. Variable interest rates may substantially increase the total amount that needs to be repaid.
Undergraduate students with financial need will likely qualify for Federal Direct Subsidized Loans where the government pays the interest while students are in school on at least a half-time basis. Private student loans are not subsidized.
A credit check is not required for most federal student loans (except for PLUS loans). Federal student loans may help establish positive credit history. Private student loans may require an established credit history. The cost of a private student loan will depend on the borrower’s credit score and other factors.
In most cases, federal student loans do not require a cosigner. Private student loans may require a credit worthy cosigner.
Borrowers having trouble repaying their loan may be able to temporarily postpone or lower payments by working with their lender through a process called forbearance or deferment. Private student loans may not offer forbearance or deferment options.
Federal loans offer a variety of flexible repayment plans. Private student loan repayment options vary by lender.
Federal loans offer specialized loan forgiveness program for those who qualify through work in public service. It is unlikely that a loan forgiveness program will be available through a private lender. Be sure to review options with the potential lender.

Borrow Only What You Need

Use the cost of attendance calculator to assist in determining borrowing needs. You may also wish to review the current tuition and fee schedule and on-campus housing and board rates to assist with the budgeting process. You are encouraged to carefully calculate the amount of private student loan needed in order to prevent over borrowing.

Compare Loan Options

Loan terms vary by lender. The terms can significantly affect the amount paid over the life of the loan. Consider terms such as interest rates, loan origination fees, repayment options, cancellation or forgiveness options and approval requirements.

Loan Repayment Estimator

How Much Will You Owe When You Begin To Repay Your Loan?

Use a loan payment calculator to estimate the monthly payment and total repayment amounts.

Private Loan Application and Disbursement Process

FASTChoice lender list

Steps for the application and disbursement process of private loans

Once borrowers have decided that a private student loan is the best option, follow the steps below to complete the application and disbursement process.

Financial Aid employees are prohibited from entering into revenue-sharing arrangements with lenders, steering borrowers to particular lenders, intentionally delaying loan certifications from selected lenders, or entering agreements with lenders regarding loan volume or preferred lender status. Borrowers are free to select any lender they choose.

  1. Go to FASTChoice and research potential lenders or work with a lender of your choice.
  2. From FASTChoice, click the "Apply" button next to the desired lender.
  3. Once directed to the lender's site, complete all requirements as requested by the lender. Lenders will notify the Financial Aid Department at Western Washington University of the request to certify your private student loan once all lender requirements have been completed.
  4. After the loan is certified, students will receive notification via their official WWU email account and Web4U. Funds will be sent to Western Washington University approximately 14 business days after the certification date or at the beginning of the academic term for which the loan has been requested, whichever is later.
  5. To inquire on the status of your loan or to request changes to your loan, contact the Financial Aid Services Center.