On rare occasions when the Federal Stafford Loan or the Federal Grad Plus Loan do not meet your needs or if you are not eligible, Rensselaer at Hartford can recommend a number of private student loan programs. Private loan programs are not affiliated with any federal financial assistance programs and are, therefore, generally more expensive. Approval of a private student loan application is based on your creditworthiness, including debt-to-income ratio and credit history. Keep in mind that you may never borrow more than your cost of attendance for the academic period of the loan, less other financial aid received.
The intent of this section is to provide information on programs whose eligibility requirements allow either part-time enrollment or allow international students to borrow with U.S. or permanent resident cosigners. Since most of these banks offer an array of loan products targeted to specific student populations, be sure to look for loans for part-time graduate students--as opposed to the Federal Stafford student loans which require half-time enrollment. If you decide to apply for a private loan, it is important that you select the appropriate loan and that you understand the terms.
All of the private lenders listed below have web sites and toll-free numbers. It is always a good idea to check these sites for up-to-date information regarding eligibility requirements, interest rates and terms. Due to market demands, many banks offer loans with sliding interest rates based on your individual credit rating or score. Fair, Isaac & Co. (FICO) first developed the concept of a credit score which is based upon factors such as: payment history; amounts owed; length of history; new credit; and account “mix”. FICO scores range from 300 to 850 (850 being the best score) and are used by lenders to help determine the probability that you’ll repay a future loan on time. To obtain a free copy of their brochure, “Understanding Your Credit Score,” please visit: http://www.myfico.com. You can also order a copy of your personal FICO score and Equifax Credit Report™ or TransUnion Credit Profile, along with an explanation of your score and access to the FICO Score Simulator at this web site. This Score Simulator allows you to make changes to your credit history to see how it effects your credit score.
With the ready availability of online credit scores, lenders now can offer their best rates and fees to borrowers with the best scores. Those with a poor credit score or history are perceived as more of a risk and, therefore, do not receive such good terms. On the plus side, since these credit scores help lenders offer terms commensurate with your probability of repayment, fewer overall loan applications are turned down. The variable interest rates generally are based on the Prime (plus or minus points) as published in The Wall Street Journal. Some lenders use the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) rather than the Prime. Because of the sliding scales, you may have to apply online to see who can offer the best deal. But keep your applications to a minimum since a large number of lender inquiries of your FICO credit score, for instance, can negatively affect your score. A number of banks--including CitiAssist, Wells Fargo and TERI--do not necessarily charge up-front origination fees. So if you want to avoid fees apply only for their loans online to avoid having your credit score lowered. Other features to look for are: the presence or absence of grace periods; repayment plans that will fit your particular financial situation; repayment incentives; and no prepayment penalties.
Please complete and return The Private Student Loan Questionnaire to the Financial Aid Office if you are applying for a private student loan.