Students seeking a degree at Howard University should always pursue all types of financial aid including federal grants and loans, scholarships, and federal work-study before seeking a private/alternative loan. Parents of dependent undergraduate students should consider applying for a Parent PLUS Loan before the student applies for a private/alternative loan. Graduate students should consider applying for the Graduate PLUS Loan before seeking a private/alternative loan.
Benefits of Federal Direct Stafford Loans include:
- Students are not required to pay back Federal Direct Stafford Loans until six (6) months after graduation or cease enrollment in school at least half-time. For private/alternative loans, a student may have to start repayments immediately.
- Federal Direct Stafford Loans offer lower interest rates than private/alternative loans:
- Federal Direct Subsidized Loan: the U.S. Department of Education pays interest on the loan while the student is attending school at least half-time.
- Parent PLUS Loans require a credit check but the criteria are less strict than for private/alternative loans. Also, the parent can choose to not begin repayment until the student graduates and/or drops below half-time enrollment status. For more information, please click here.
Students that are ineligible for Federal Direct Loans or need additional funds beyond their qualification for federal student aid may apply for a private/alternative loan. Please note that a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is not required in order to apply for an alternative loan but is encouraged to be considered all other aid before applying for a private/alternative loan.
A student interested in a private/alternative loan should apply through a private lender which may require a co-signer. Please note, that each lender may have different interest rate requirements, and/or repayment options. Students can be eligible to receive a private/alternative loan up to the amount of their Cost of Attendance, determined by the Financial Aid Office, minus other aid received. A private/alternative loan cannot exceed the student's Cost of Attendance for the aid year.
The Truth In Lending Act (TILA) and the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), require a lender to obtain a self-certification signed by the private loan applicant before disbursing a private education loan. The lender may provide the applicant with the self-certification form; however, you can also obtain the form by clicking on this link, Private Education Loan Applicant Self-Certification Form.