Alternative Student Loans

Alternative or private student loans can be a suitable option for students seeking other means outside of Federal Student Aid in which to pay for their cost of education. It is the student’s sole responsibility to apply for and follow the appropriate steps in order to secure funding through an alternative loan. Alternative loans are credit based and may require that a student be enrolled at least half time (6 credit hours). Before the student applies for a private student loan, the student should exhaust all federal loan options first. Federal student loans are typically less credit restricted and offer flexible payment options.

In accordance with 34 CFR 668.14(b)(29)(ii), an institution must, upon the request of the applicant, discuss the availability of Federal, State, and institutional financial aid.   Staff members in Rio Grande's Office of Financial Aid are happy to discuss with students and prospective students, and their parents, the financial aid options available to them.  Students and parents may qualify for loans or other assistance under Title IV of the Higher Education Act programs.  The terms and conditions of Federal loan programs may be more favorable than the provisions of private educational loans.

How to Apply for a Private Student Loan

Step 1: Compare Lenders and Apply
Students should carefully review the borrower benefits and interest rates of several private loan companies before choosing the right lender. Many lenders encourage students to apply online through their websites, but borrowers can also apply over the phone and by paper forms. Great Lakes provides a private loan comparison tool at FastWeb, which allows the student to view the different benefits each lender offers.

Step 2: Applicant Self-certification
The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (Pub. L. 110-35) (HEOA) added section 128(e)(3) to the TILA, which states that before disbursement of any private education loan can occur, the Private Education Loan Applicant Self-Certification form must be completed and submitted to your lender, not financial aid. Many lenders provide this form during the loan application process. If you did not complete this form during the application process, please download it now and submit it to your lender.

Self-certification Form

In order to complete Section 2 of the Self-Certification, you will need to fill in the Cost of Attendance (COA) and Estimated Financial Assistance. To obtain the COA the student can contact the financial aid office at 1.740.245.7218 or 1.800.282.7201.

Step 3: View Loan  Disclosures with Loan Cost Examples from the lender you have chosen

FASTChoice Option

Rio Grande participates in the FastChoice option for students interested in Alternative Student Loans. This option offers a comparison of private loan options that we are most familiar with, and that are most commonly used by Rio Grande students. The list of preferred lenders is checked regularly to ensure these lenders are reputable and continue to meet the needs of Rio Grande students. Although this option is very useful for students and their families, it is important to understand that families are not restricted to only choosing a lender provided on the preferred lenders list. To visit our FASTChoice site click here.

How the University of Rio Grande Chooses Preferred Lenders

The Private Education Lender List is reviewed annually. Selection criteria are based on the following:
• Competitive interest rates
• Competitive front end and back end benefits
• Efficiencies in processing loan transactions
• School must be able to certify loan through the lenders certifying system
• At least three lenders must be unaffiliated with other preferred lenders at The University of Rio Grande

Code of Conduct

The Private Education Lender List is reviewed annually. Selection criteria are based on the following:
• The University of Rio Grande will protect the borrower’s choice of lender by:
        o Making it clear to borrowers that they have the right to select any lender
        o Processing and certifying loans timely, regardless of the lender selected
• University of Rio Grande reserves the right to add or remove any lending agency from the Preferred Lender List at any time.
• All employees are held to the highest ethical principles, as defined by our code of ethics.
Student Loan Code of Ethics

The University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College has established a student loan code of conduct that sets clear limits on the interactions that URG/RGCC and its employees may have with student loan lenders, servicer and/or guarantors and to ensure that school employees maintain the highest standards of administrative and academic integrity, and conduct themselves in an ethical and professional manner in their interactions with students and families.

Further, University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College has set forth this policy to codify and clarify our ethics standard with regard to education (student) loan lenders, servicers, and or guarantors, and to provide assurances that questionable practices that have been criticized at other educational institutions do not occur at URG/RGCC. Code of Ethics Policy:
    • “Preferred” lender lists and endorsements of lenders: the University of Rio Grande and RioGrande Community College does not create, maintain, or distribute any listing of “preferred” or “recommended” education loan lenders/servicers, nor will URG/RGCC staff endorse any particular education loan lender/servicer.

    • Promotion of Education Loans: University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College does not engage in a “revenue sharing” arrangement with any student loan lender, servicer or guarantor, nor enter into any arrangement designed to promote the products, services, and/or public image of any student loan lender, servicer, or guarantor. This section does not prohibit the school from distributing informational materials in compliance with federal regulation 34 C.F.R. 682.200(b)(5)(ii).

    • Non-Discrimination in Loan Certification: The Financial Aid Office will certify any private loan upon request for any eligible student through any participating lender, servicer or guarantor. Financial Aid staff will neither favor nor discriminate against any particular student loan lender, servicer, or provider in giving counsel to student and parent borrowers. However, nothing in this policy shall be construed to prevent properly trained Financial Aid Office personnel from giving students and parents good counsel and frank answers about loan costs, interest rates, fees, and payments to assist the borrower in making an educated loan product/lender choice.

    • Prohibition Against Gifts: Neither URG/RGCC nor any of its employees will accept any gift, gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, benefit, or any other item of more than a nominal value from any student loan lender, servicer or guarantor, except as specifically permitted in federal regulation 34 C.F.R. 682.200(b)(5)(ii). Gifts to family members of URG/RGCC employees are considered as a gift to the employee if the gift was given in relation to the position of the employee. Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibiting URG/RGCC employees from conducting normal banking business with a student loan lender; or receiving discounts, premiums, or gifts that are available to the general public based upon that normal banking business.

    • Contracting Arrangements/Advisory Groups: Financial aid employees or any other URG/RGCC staff member that may have any responsibility with respect to educational loans may not accept from any student loan lender, servicer or guarantor any type of fee, payment, or other financial benefit as compensation for consulting or other services provided on behalf of the lender relating to educational loans; nor shall any employee accept payment for services or reimbursement of expenses related to education lending advisory boards, focus groups, facility tours or similar activities from any student loan lender, servicer, or guarantor.

    • Staffing Assistance: University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College does not utilize student loan lender, servicer, or guarantor staff to work in our offices, nor will we allow them to perform the work of school personnel in other locations. Further, we do not permit any non-employee to identify him/herself as a URG/RGCC employee.