Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships

Private Education Loans

Some families find that private education loans can be used as a source of additional funding when federal aid options have been exhausted. A private education loan is a nonfederal loan issued by a private lender such as a bank or credit union. Private education loans often have variable interest rates, require a credit check, have varied repayment options and do not provide the same benefits as federal student loans. Families may borrow up to the cost of attendance minus other financial aid received. Federal regulations require the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships to be notified of any private education loans received. Students should always exhaust federal loan options first before considering a private loan. Parents may find parent private education loans to be competitive with the Parent PLUS option.

Items to consider when choosing a private loan:

  • Cosigner Release option
  • Interest Rate
  • Fixed or variable interest rate
  • Origination fee
  • Repayment length
  • In-school deferment
  • Loan forgiveness
  • Death and disability benefits

If you determine that you need a private education loan to help pay for your educational expenses, you should carefully research and compare the options available from different lenders and select the lender that best suits your needs. The University of Northern Iowa does not maintain a list of lenders, nor do we endorse any private lender or private education loan product. You may select any lender of your choice. We do require that students meet with a financial aid counselor in our office to discuss your private loan needs before we will certify (approve) your eligibility to the lender. 

Private Education Loan Timeline:

  1. Apply for 2-4 private loans to choose the best loan for your family

  2. Once approved, contact the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships at (319) 273-2700 to schedule your private education loan counseling appointment

    • If you are from out of town, this appointment can be done over the phone prior to the start of the semester

    • Bring the following to your appointment: Lender, Amount applied for, Origination fee, Interest rate, and whether it is fixed or variable

  3. After your appointment, UNI will certify the loan with your lender

  4. 8-10 business days after your appointment it will be added to your financial aid package and will disburse with the rest or your aid


A Private Loan Education Packet is available to assist students in learning more about private education loans.  A private loan counseling appointment is required prior to certification of the private education loan each year.  A private education loan will not be certified for any student who has remaining federal student loan eligibility (Perkins, Subsidized, Unsubsidized or Graduate PLUS). For more information about private education loans or to set up a time to meet with a financial aid counselor, please call the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships at (319) 273-2700.