Student Alternative Loans

Financing Your Education

At Suffolk University we understand that financing a college education is likely to be one of the most significant investments you and your family will make.

Graduate tuition & fees for specific programs

Taking the First Step in Financing Your Education

The first step for any student should always be applying for financial aid. This can be done by:

1. Completing the FAFSA at

  • Keep in mind you will need your federal tax information to complete this application (if you have not yet completed your tax return for the current year you can estimate using last year’s figures. It’s important to apply before the deadline for best consideration; however, applications are still reviewed after published deadlines.
  • Be sure to include Suffolk University’s school code (002218) so that we may access your FAFSA results.
  • Please make sure you respond to any requests for additional documentation.
2. Within 2 weeks, after completing your financial aid application, you will receive an award letter from Suffolk University which lists your financial aid eligibility. One type of aid offered may be Federal Stafford loans (see chart below to determine annual amounts). Traditionally, the Federal Stafford loans offer the most favorable educational loan terms. Suffolk University recommends you take advantage of Federal Stafford loans before considering other educational loan sources.

(Sub* + Unsub = Total)
(Sub* + Unsub = Total)
Graduate N/A $8500 + $12000 = $20500

*Please note: the subsidized amounts listed above are awarded based on financial need. If the student does not demonstrate federal financial need, the amounts will be offered solely in unsubsidized loan funds.

3. Use your award letter to determine the costs associated with your intended enrollment and estimate your remaining balance. Your remaining balance can be calculated as: Tuition & fees – Financial Aid (not including work programs) = Remaining Balance. If you are unable to cover your remaining balance with personal funds, you may want to consider the additional financing options listed below.

Federal Plus Loans

When seeking loan funding Suffolk University suggests FIRST reviewing the terms of a Parent or Graduate Student PLUS loan offered through the Department of Education at

The Office of Student Financial Services strongly encourages students and their families to explore and review all federal student and parent loan options before considering a private education loan, as there are many benefits associated with federal loan programs that may not be available through private lenders.

Some of the benefits associated with borrowing federal loans include:

  • Lower interest rates
  • Better repayment terms
  • Deferred payment options
  • Applications completed directly through Suffolk University’s Office of Financial Services

A federal student loan allows students and their parents to borrow money to help meet their educational expenses through loan programs supported by the federal government. These loans typically have low interest rates, flexible repayment terms, and can be taken out in the student’s name.

Graduate PLUS Loans:

The Graduate PLUS loan enables graduate students enrolled at least half time to borrow directly from the U.S. Department of Education. The Graduate PLUS loan does require a soft credit check and may be applied for after completing the FAFSA process and accepting the maximum amounts of subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans. The Graduate PLUS has a fixed interest rate (2010/11 rate is 7.9%), and offers the student the option of deferring payments until after graduation.

Private Educational Loans

Once you have successfully exhausted all other funding options, such as federal loans, and are still in need of additional financing, you may want to consider a private student loan. Private loans are to be used as supplements to cover the remaining balance AFTER financial aid awards and federal loans.

Private student loans, also referred to as alternative loans, are credit-based loans offered through private lenders or banks. These loans have certain eligibility criteria, primarily, a credit-worthy borrower with verified income is necessary. However, some loans carry additional eligibility requirements, so be sure to check all requirements thoroughly with your lender before choosing a loan product that’s right for you.

There are many private loan options available and selecting the best one for you can be overwhelming. First, review below before submitting an application to a private lender.

Important Things to Consider When Applying for an Educational Loan

1. Exhaust all other forms of aid prior to borrowing a private loan.

  • Complete the FAFSA to be considered for federal aid, including Stafford loans, at
  • Take advantage of payment plans offered by the University. Suffolk offers a monthly payment plan through Tuition Management Systems which allows you to spread out your costs over 10 months for a small fee. Families who utilize the TMS plan, even for a portion of their balance, often borrow less than those who do not and save hundreds of dollars in interest fees over time. Visit the payment plan section of our website.
  • Consider a Graduate PLUS loan.
2. Determine the amount of your alternative loan.

  • Plan for fall and spring semester costs.
  • Borrow only the amount you actually need to cover your educational related expenses.
  • Keep in mind you may be able to significantly reduce your borrowing by covering yearly costs with a combination of sources: savings, present income, payment plans, and federal loans.
3. When choosing a lender:

  • Understand fixed vs. variable interest rates: Fixed interest rates will not change during the entire life of the loan. Although they may be slightly higher than some variable rates now, they do not fluctuate with the market. Variable rates could rise significantly during the loan term, which could lead to higher monthly payments. Choosing a loan with a low variable rate over a loan with a fixed rate is best for a student who plans to pay off the principle of the loan in a short period of time.
  • Take into consideration the total “price” of a loan: The interest rate is not the only factor for loan price comparison; look at the Annual Percentage Rate, as well as any fees associated with the loan. For example, a loan with a lower interest rate might seem more favorable, but high fees on the lower rate means it might actually be more expensive overall. Understanding these factors will provide you with a better understanding of the total loan costs and enable you to make the best decision.
  • Review deferred payment vs. immediate repayment options: Some lenders require immediate repayment on their alternative loans. These monthly payments, however, can be as low as $25 a month and make a significant difference in the overall “price” of the loan. Even if the loan you choose offers deferred payments, making small payments while in school will help lower accrued interest and can make a dramatic difference in the length of time it takes to repay the loan.
  • Decide who should be the borrower: In the current credit climate a credit-worthy co-signer is almost always required for an application to be approved. In most cases, using the parent as the primary borrower and the student as the co-signer results in lower interest rates and better loan terms. When applying for alternative loans, please note that a credit-worthy co-signer could reduce interest rates significantly and save hundreds of dollars over the life of the loan.
  • Understand loan eligibility requirements: Most lenders require a credit-worthy borrower with income verification for approval. However, some loan products have additional eligibility requirements that may include: satisfactory academic progress, minimum enrollment status (at least half time enrollment), and type of degree program. Before applying, make sure you meet all eligibility requirements.

Suffolk University students may select a private lender of their choice. The office of Student Financial Services will process any private alternative loan application submitted by the borrower provided all eligibility requirements are met. Your local bank or credit union is another source to consider when choosing a private loan program.

Learn more about the various private student loan options available.
You will find contact information and details on many available alternative loans. We encourage you to compare all programs before selecting the best option for you. When doing your research, be sure to visit the individual websites for each program you are considering.

New Requirements for Private/Alternative loans

As of February 14, 2010, federal regulations were implemented which require lenders to provide more in-depth information on private student loans, interest rates, and repayment options. As part of "the Higher Education Opportunity Act," Title X is specifically aimed at private lenders and established new regulations that affect the way you receive, and are approved for, private student loans. Listed below are some of these new requirements:

Self Certification Form: As part of the loan application process, student borrowers are now required to complete and return to their lender a self-certification form for each loan application submitted to the Office of Student Financial Services. An approved borrower must fill out a self-certification form (usually provided by the lender) and will be required to provide information on "cost of attendance" and "estimated financial aid," You may also obtain a self-certification form [PDF].

To avoid unnecessary delays, be sure to return this form to your lender and not to the Office of Student Financial Services.

Loan Approval Disclosure: Once your loan is approved, your lender will provide you with a statement that includes your interest rate, loan details, and repayment options. Student borrowers are now required to “actively accept” the terms of their loan within 30 calendar days before their school will be notified that school certification is available. The lender’s terms for how to “accept” the loan terms can be found on this disclosure statement.

Right to Cancel: Borrowers and/or cosigners have the right to cancel or rescind a loan offer within three business days after receipt of the Final Disclosure. During this time, the lender cannot disburse loan funds. Be aware the cancellation period cannot be waived in order for funds to disburse more quickly. This may delay the disbursement of loan funds to your student account, so be sure to take it into consideration when estimating the timeline for bill deadlines.

The Office of Student Financial Services will not certify a student’s alternative loan until all required lender documentation is complete. If you have questions regarding the status of your loan applications, please contact your lender.