Skip to content

Private Student Loans

We want the best for our children which means we want them to be able to attend the best college. But what happens when the financial aid letter comes and they’re short of affording their dream school? 

For most students, the Federal Loan program is by far the best option for the interest rate and repayment terms. However, the amount that can be borrowed is capped. It’s typically best to exhaust all federal loan options before pursuing a private loan.

Let’s assume that the student takes a government loan but a gap remains between the cost of college and available resources. If there is a gap between expected costs and the available resources, then it may be time to consider private student loan options.

Private loans are made by private organizations such as banks, credit unions, and state-based or state-affiliated organizations, and have terms and conditions that are set by the lender. These lenders apply credit tests to ensure that the borrower, and co-signer if one is required, will be able to repay the loan.  Borrowers with very good credit scores may achieve substantial decreases in the interest rate they pay.

Though a private student loan may be daunting, it’s one of the best options when looking to fill a shortfall after aid and federal loans. Making educational expenses on a credit card or through another line of credit offering may be more expensive over time.

When taking out private student loans, make sure you can answer the following:

  • How long will interest be charged?
  • What is the grace period on the loan, that is, how much time will pass between graduation and when the first payment is due?
  • Who will be the cosigner on the loan, if you need one?
  • Is a payment required while in school?

There are many factors to consider and like most aspects of the college process, the answers will differ among families. With some research, you’ll feel more equipped to make the right choices for you. Good student loan borrowing is about understanding the options and choosing the option that fits your needs best.


The content on this page provides general consumer information. It is not legal advice or regulatory guidance. We do not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of third-party information.

Members' Voice Testimonials

This credit union is the best, I love the customer service and you can't beat the interest rates. I'm happy to be a member of this great credit union.

The branch manager introduced herself and was extremely helpful. She stated that if there is anything we ever need to please let her know. Very positive experience!

Greta was absolutely amazing - as always. She makes me and my parents feel valued and supported. We are forever grateful. [The Credit Union] has been hugely supportive over many years. And we feel known and cared for.

Long as I have been with the credit union, I haven't had any problems. I also like the protection on my account.

My overall experience at the credit union was exceptional. The staff was hospitable offering water, my service was timely and professional and the office was well lit and clean.

As a member for more than 40 years, i have always had great service from the USSFCU and know that they stand behind their great reputation.

A top rate Credit Union, [I'm] privileged to be part of! Thank you for all you do for our family! USSFCU Credit Union was able to resolve our financial situation - vehicle, personal loans, customer service/recommendations, within 6 months. We belonged to another credit union for over 20 years, with results not even close to comparison. We switched ...

Your people and products are amazing. The recent [online banking] overhaul is phenomenal. [I've] been electronic banking since Tele action phone banking - paying bills with my push button landline decades ago. USSFCU is light years ahead of everyone else in terms of ease of use and client experience!

I have been a member for more than 30 years. I no longer reside in the DC area but continue to bank with USSFCU because of the ease and the customer service.

I have been a member for over 50 years, and I have always gotten good service with loans, when I had to have service at a branch, and when I needed to have money sent to me from my savings account. The personnel have always been friendly and treated me with respect.

I especially appreciate being able to quickly speak with someone (not a robot) and that person has always been knowledgeable and helpful.

Excellent customer service streamlined and transparent process. The representatives are efficient, knowledgeable, and understanding of the type of loans offered by Credit Union.

The USSFCU behaves as a credit union ought to behave. The staff works with and for the members, not for a corporate board. Interest rates for a car loan, a home improvement loan, and a mortgage are low and terms are transparent.

Staff are courteous and friendly to work with. Very knowledgeable about services and products offered or available. Excellent follow-up with customers.

I have appreciated USSFCU services for many years since I left my work on Capitol Hill. I have appreciated the occasional webinars on purchasing a home or retirement planning.

I have been a member since 2006, and have always appreciated the customer service response to any concern or query. In addition, as I have traveled extensively, USSFCU has provided support and access.

Read More testimonials.