Alternative Loans

Private student loans (sometimes called alternative loans) are loans that eligible students may access to help pay for the cost of attending college. The loans are accessed by students from banks and finance companies, much like a personal or auto loan. They are not affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid, or DMACC.

Students seeking degree, diploma, or financial aid eligible certificate programs should only consider private loans after applying for federal and state financial aid. Private student loans may be available to supplement your federal financial aid award if you need additional financial aid or federal aid has been exhausted. In almost all cases, they should not be a student's primary form of financial aid. For students in a non-credit program (such as Commercial Driving) the private loan may be one of the few financial aid options available.

If you need to complete a FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid) visit You can complete a FAFSA even if the semester has already begun. Contact the Financial Aid Office if you have any questions or need further information about the FAFSA. Please keep in mind that students attending non-credit programs at DMACC are not eligible to receive federal or state financial aid. In this case, completing the FAFSA is not encouraged.

Important DMACC Private Loan and Eligibility Items

​​​​​​Every student should investigate additional financial aid resources before applying for a private loan. Other forms of financial aid you could look into include:

  • Grants: These are often funded by the federal or state government and do not have to be repaid. Students are only eligible for grants based on having completed the FAFSA ( Not all students are eligible for grants, but ALL students should apply just to be sure.
  • Federal Student Loans: Federal Direct Loans are federally funded and based off the FASFA. Federal loans tend to have lower interest rates than private loans, but should be used after all “free” money (like a grant or scholarship) has been exhausted.
  • Federal Work-Study: Work-Study is federally funded and based off the FAFSA. This is a part time job on campus that you earn hourly wages from. Student employees receive a paycheck much like any other part time job.
  • Scholarships: Scholarships are based on a variety of factors, including information from the FAFSA, student’s program of interest, and grades. All students should apply for scholarships! A student often has to be meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress to be considered for most scholarships.
  • Tuition reimbursement benefits is sometimes offered through your place of employment. Check with your employer and contact DMACC Student Accounts to see if you would qualify.
  • DMACC Student Accounts offer payment plans to fit your monthly budget.

There are important questions that you must be able to answer before you apply for a private loan. If you do not know the answer to these questions, you’re not ready to apply for a private loan. You should consider:

  • Do you know how much it costs to attend DMACC?
  • Do you know what your income will be after you complete your program of study?
  • Will you be able to afford the loan payments?
  • Have you maxed out your Federal Direct Loan options?
  • What is the interest rate? Does the Federal Direct Loan have a more favorable interest rate?
  • Is the interest rate fixed or variable?
  • When does the interest begin accruing?
  • When does repayment begin? Does the Federal Direct Loan have better repayment terms?
  • Does the loan require a co-signer? Even if you qualify for the loan on your own, with having a co-signer lower your interest rate?
  • If your loan requires a co-signer, can the co-signer be released at some point during repayment?
  • Many of these questions can be answered through a resource called FASTChoice. The use of this tool is (specifically, the Borrowing Essentials) required before any private loans will be certified at DMACC.

You should review DMACC’s private loan eligibility criteria prior to applying. In order to receive a private loan at DMACC, you will have to meet your lender’s eligibility criteria in addition to DMACC’s. Here are some (but not all) of those important criteria: 

  • DMACC’s Alternative/Private Loan Procedure is Loading...​ .​ Please review this policy before applying.
  • Private loan amounts are limited by a student’s cost of attendance (student budget) as determined by the Financial Aid Office less any other financial aid received.
  • Students attending less than halftime cannot borrow any more than $1000 per term in private loans.
  • Private loans are cancelled for students that fail to attend or are not enrolled at the time DMACC is disbursing the loan to the student.​

​​​​To help you ensure that you’ve completed the necessary steps to receive a private student loan at DMACC, please follow this checklist:

​⬜ We recommend that you file your FAFSA as early as possible. The application is completed for FREE at View the Financial Aid checklist for more information about the FAFSA and processing at DMACC.​ Students in an eligible non-credit program which includes the Transportation Institute’s Truck Driver Training Program or the Summer Fire Academy are not required to complete the FAFSA.

​​⬜ DMACC’s current Cohort Default Rate (CDR) is 2.6% which is below the national average of 3.7%. A cohort default rate (CDR) is the percentage of a school’s borrowers who enter repayment of federal student loans during a fiscal year and default within the cohort default period. ​Explore federal loan options before applying for private loans.

⬜ We recommend that you complete “Borrowing Essentials” on FASTChoice. ​FASTChoice will assist you in finding and comparing private loan options and assist in the application process.

​⬜ Complete a private loan application with the private lender. This can be done using FASTChoice​​, or by contacting the lender directly. If you are eligible for Federal Student Aid, this should only be done after you have reviewed your award offer from the DMACC Financial Aid Office. Note: DMACC does not recommend private loans when federal aid options are available.​

⬜ Once you have been approved by your private lender for a student loan, your lender will send your information to DMACC to be “certified.” This is the process DMACC uses to ensure all eligibility requirements have been completed and that you are eligible to receive the loan. DMACC will contact you via your DMACC e-mail address if additional information is needed during this step.

⬜ Once certification is complete, the funds will be sent to DMACC. This normally takes about 10 business days. All private loans, as with other financial aid funds, are first applied directly to your DMACC student account to pay charges for tuition and other college-related charges.

⬜ If your loan funds exceed the charges on your student account, you will receive these funds as a refund to pay other educationally related expenses.

⬜ Disbursing or crediting your student account with private loan funds will only occur after verifying that you are attending courses for which you are registered. The release of funds is handled by ​DMACC Student Accounts.