Alternative Loans

Office of Financial Aid

Alternative loans are non-federal loans with lender approval based on your satisfactory credit history. Some alternative loans require a credit-worthy cosigner or allow you to use a cosigner in order to receive a lower interest rate. Alternative loans help bridge the gap between the cost of attendance and the amount of federal loan eligibility. Typically federal student loans are less expensive and offer better terms than alternative education loans, so be sure to exhaust your eligibility for federal student loans before considering an alternative education loan. The interest rate and fees on an alternative loan may vary depending on the student’s and/or cosigner’s credit. The interest rate is typically variable and may change as often as monthly. Some lenders offer a fixed interest rate.

How to choose a lender

If you want to borrow an alternative loan, you will need to apply with a lender. Please review our Q&A document below for information about alternative loans in general. When you are ready to find a lender, the links below provide information for lenders that we have determined offer a variety of loan products, a competitive total cost of borrowing, favorable borrower benefits, borrowing options for non-traditional students, and easy processing capabilities, including electronic funds transfer. Please ensure you're using the link that corresponds to your student type, as the information is specific for those programs. This list does not constitute an endorsement of any lender by Hamline University, and you are welcome to borrow from any lender you choose, even if that lender is not on the list. The information on the lender list is updated by the lender periodically as terms may change. Due to recent changes in federal legislation, please allow a minimum of three to four weeks for the alternative loan application process.

Alternative loans questions and answers »

Lender lists

Need a place to start? Check out a list of alternative loan lenders ( Please select your student type or the type of loan you're interested in from the home page.

How to apply for an alternative loan

  • Log in to the FAST Choice site and select your student type to view the Alternative Lender list.
  • Choose the lender that you would like to borrow from and select Apply Now to the right of the lender. You will be directed to the lender web site to complete the loan application. Please note that you can choose any lender you wish; you do not have to select one from the lender list linked above. 

Some consumers freeze their credit after a security breach to protect their credit. Alternative loan lenders run credit checks, so if you have frozen your credit due to a security breach, it may be worthwhile to speak with your lender during the application process to determine if you need to unfreeze your credit.

Loan repayment calculator

Alternative loans do not qualify for federal repayment plans. Typically repayment will begin six months after a student is no longer enrolled half-time. The monthly payments will be determined by your loan servicer. If you are able, making a little more than the minimum payment each month can go a long way in terms of paying off your loan faster. You can use a repayment calculator ( that may be helpful when paying off your alternative loan.

Enrollment status

NOTE: Only courses required for your program count in the Financial Aid Enrollment Status.

Program types Enrollment status Credit requirement
Undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, online bachelor’s, teaching licensure Half-time At least 6 credits per semester
Full-time At least 12 credits per semester
Full-time (for state grants) At least 15 credits per semester for full reward
Master’s, doctorate, graduate certificates Half-time At least 4 credits per semester
Full-time At least 8 credits per semester