Types of Financial Aid


Private Student Loans

Private loans are available from private lenders and offer additional financial assistance to you if you have exhausted all other sources of funding for your education. These programs are meant to supplement federal and state aid when the Cost of Attendance (COA) is not fully covered by these programs.

Processing Timeline

New Truth in Lending Act (TILA) regulations include additional processing steps and require a ten-day waiting period after the disclosures have been completed before the loan can be disbursed. Assuming your application has been properly submitted and approved by the lender, you should anticipate a three-week turnaround from the point the loan was submitted until disbursement posts to your MyNIU Campus Finances Page.  See the Application Process & Timeline for more detailed information about the private loan process. See the Application Process & Timeline for more detailed information.

Choosing a Lender

While the Student Financial Aid Office (SFAO) is unable to advise students and their families regarding which private loan may best meet their needs, there is a comprehensive list of private loan lenders and additional information regarding private loans on the FinAid website. Valuable information about the private loan process and interest rate calculations is provided and should be read carefully.

Note: Some lenders have other requirements beyond credit approval.  If you think you may have any of these types of concerns, please discuss the non-financial borrowing requirements with your lender before authorizing a credit check. 

Ask the lender for their policies regarding the following scenarios as they apply to you:

  • Enrollment status less than half time (Undergraduate or Law less than 6.0 hours, Graduate less than 4.5 graduate hours)
  • Satisfactory Academic Progress; ineligible for federal aid because of it
  • Prior academic term’s bill and enrollment in that term
  • Loan type or lender that requires special criteria (IE: Graduate standing, or a particular major)
  • Not degree seeking here at NIU
  • Not a US citizen or resident (may require a co-signer who is a citizen)
  • Loan requirement for a co-signer; (is a co-signer required versus recommended)

Deciding an Amount

The Student Financial Aid Office will process the private loan requested by the student; however, the SFAO will not certify private loans for an amount that exceeds the cost of attendance minus other financial aid.  Your COA may be viewed on your MyNIU Campus Finances page. You should consider only borrowing what you need.  Please see the Private Student Loan Helpful Hints for examples.

Picking a Loan Period

It is important that you select proper loan term dates for which the loan is requested. In most cases, our office encourages students to estimate their financial needs for the academic year and to request their private loan for the August - May school year. By requesting the loan for the academic year, it reduces the number of credit checks performed, which can affect your credit score.  Please remember loan terms cannot cross academic years. At NIU, the academic year begins with the fall semester, continues through the spring semester, and ends with the summer semester. If you request a loan for a single semester, the cost of attendance will be adjusted to a single semester.

Prior term loans may be used to pay an outstanding balance from a term that has already ended. It is important to make sure your lender processes prior terms loans because not all lenders do. For a list of the lenders that offer prior term loans, visit FinAid website and scroll to the bottom of the webpage.