Alternative Credit-based Loans
Alternative loans require a credit check. We strongly encourage you to request a copy of your credit report. Checking your credit rating now will help eliminate surprises later and will give you time to correct any errors or resolve any problems. To request a free credit report visit AnnualCreditReport.com. For a more in depth report you will be charged a small fee, unless you have been denied credit recently. You may contact either Experian at 888.397.3742, Equifax at 800.685.1111, or TransUnion at 800.888.4213.
Graduate students may borrow the Federal Direct Graduate and Professional Student PLUS Loan (Grad PLUS) up to the cost of attendance less other financial aid. It is a credit-based federal loan and may offer an endorser (co-signer) option.
For Grad PLUS loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2014 and before July 1, 2015, the PLUS loan interest rate is fixed at 7.21% with a 4.292% origination fee per disbursement. The interest rate will change as of July 1, 2015 based on the 10-Year Treasury Note Index + a 4.6% add-on (capped at 10.5%) with a 4.292% origination fee. The rate will be fixed for the life of the loan. Due to sequestration, the origination fee will increase (amount to be determined) for new loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 2015.
Interest begins accruing at disbursement. Repayment begins six months after the borrower ceases to be enrolled at least half time or graduates.
Grad PLUS loans are disbursed in equal amounts in the fall and spring unless requested otherwise in writing and approved.
Unlike private alternative loans (see below), the Grad PLUS is eligible for public interest loan forgiveness, Income Based and Pay As You Earn repayment plans and also may be consolidated with other federal loans after graduation (consolidation fixes the interest rate at the weighted average of all the federal loans consolidated rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of a percent).
In addition, the Grad PLUS is eligible for federal deferment and forbearance options not provided by private lenders.
To apply for this loan, students must complete the FAFSA every year, a Grad PLUS Request every year, complete Grad PLUS entrance counseling once and complete a Grad PLUS Master Promissory Note once (it expires after ten years). A credit check is required. An endorser (co-signer) may be required (if so, a new promissory note is required for each loan with an endorser).
Apply for either the Grad PLUS or a private loan - students do not apply for both concurrently. The Grad PLUS is recommended over a private loan for reasons stated above and below, particularly if going into public service work.
Private loan programs are available to help those students whose needs are not fully met by other government loan programs, institutional or outside scholarships, and/or employment and who choose not to borrow the federal Grad PLUS (also credit-based). We consider the federal Grad PLUS a better choice for credit-based funding because of the federal deferment and forbearance options, a fixed interest rate, public interest loan forgiveness, income driven repayment plans and federal loan consolidation opportunities. However, if you prefer, you may wish to borrow a private alternative loan instead.
Private loans have variable interest rates (updated monthly or quarterly depending on lender), although some lenders are providing fixed rates at this time. Origination fees depend upon the lender but some are offered with no fees. Interest begins at disbursement; and there is typically no interest rate cap. Private loans are limited to the cost of education less other financial aid or particular lender annual and aggregate maximums. They are based on credit history and require a credit check. A co-signer may be required. Borrowers must sign a promissory note and Student Financial Services must certify the loan. Depending on the lender, repayment typically begins six to nine months after graduating or dropping below half-time enrollment.
Private loans are disbursed in equal amounts in the fall and spring. Unequal disbursements may be requested in writing to help with budgeting expenses. For instance, entering-student tuition charges for spring term are higher than other terms if a student matriculates with the summer program. Requesting a larger spring disbursement to cover the increased credit load may help to budget your monthly living expenses.
You may borrow from any private lender you wish, but please review the terms and conditions of the loan carefully. This is a list of lenders our law students have used in the past (availability of private loans by these lenders is subject to change):
- Alaska Advantage Loan (must be an Alaska resident or attending eligible school in Alaska)
- Discover (previously Citibank)
- International Chapter P.E.O. Sisterhood
- US Bank
- Wells Fargo
Please contact Student Financial Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206.398.4250 for answers to any questions you have about financial aid.