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Private Alternative Loan

Private loans (also known as alternative loans) can help fill the gap between the cost of education and the amount of other financial aid offered. However, it's best to always maximize all other resources first, including federal loans, which may have lower interest rates and better loan terms.

Federal student loans are available to most students regardless of income and provide a range of repayment options including income-based repayment plans and loan forgiveness benefits, which other education loans are not required to provide. For more information, please visit the following web page:

The UC Berkeley Financial Aid and Scholarships Office requires private loan borrowers to complete the online Financial Awareness Counseling Session provided by the Department of Education before we certify your loan request with the lender. The Financial Awareness Counseling provides tools and information to help you manage your finances so you can borrow conservatively and wisely.  

Private lenders vary in their interest rates, terms, and eligibility requirements. The University of California, Office of the President, has compiled a list of private loan lenders, yet you may choose any lender.

International students, please refer to The University of California, Office of the President, list of private loan lenders for international students and visit the Berkeley International Office website for more information.

Please also see the University of California Code of Conduct in Regard to Preferred Lender Arrangements.

Loan Eligibility

Private loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students admitted to and enrolled in a degree-granting program at UC Berkeley.

You may borrow up to your full cost of attendance for the academic year (based on your financial aid budget) less any other aid you received for that year.  

You may be required to meet citizenship requirements or provide a co-signer who meets citizenship requirements.

You are required to complete the online Financial Awareness Counseling provided on the Department of Education's website.

The Loan Process: How Do I Apply; When and Where Does It Pay?


Look for a lender and apply for a private alternative loan directly with the lender

Complete the Financial Awareness Counseling at 

      Sign into --> Complete Counseling --> Financial Awareness Counseling


If your lender approves the loan application, they will send it to UC Berkeley for certification

UC Berkeley will verify if your Financial Awareness Counseling is complete, determine eligibility, and then certify your loan

Your lender will send the loan funds to UC Berkeley after the mandatory 7-business-day rescission period ends


Your loan will disburse to your student account as long as you do not have any registration holds

Your loan will pay any outstanding charges that you have on your student account

If loan funds remain after charges have been paid, you will receive a refund and an email notification letting you know your refund is ready

The Loan Process: How to Cancel Your Private Loan

Before Disbursement:

Contact your lender directly to request a reduction or cancellation of your private loan. 

After Disbursement:

Visit Cal Student Central in person at 120 Sproul Hall or open a case online at to request a reduction or cancellation of your private loan.

When you cancel your loan, a charge will be applied to your student account within 2 to 3 business days, which may create a balance due.  You are responsible for paying this balance in full before we will return the funds to your lender.