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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 is 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: www.ucop.edu/student-affairs/_files/loans/sb1289-without-uc-loans.pdf

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, although 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.

Not all private loan products can be used to cover a past due balance (from a previous year or term), please contact lenders to find out if their private loan products can be applied to cover a past due balance.  

Loan Eligibility

Private loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students admitted to and enrolled in a degree-granting program at UC Berkeley. Some lenders require full-time enrollment, please check with your lender regarding enrollment status for their loan products.

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. Your loan might be split between the Fall and Spring terms.

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

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.

We will hold private loan certification for the term until you are enrolled in units for that term. For example, a private loan certification to cover the 2020-2021 academic year period will be on hold until end of July 2020 (when enrollment data is available), regardless of when our office receives the certification request.

If you need a loan to cover terms that span over academic years, you must apply for private loans using a separate loan application for each term. For example, if you need a loan to cover from January 2020 to December 2020, you must apply using two loan applications, one for Spring and Summer 2020, and another for Fall 2020.


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

UC Berkeley will determine eligibility and then certify your loan. You will be contacted/notified if additional action is required to determine your eligibility.  

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 are enrolled in units and do not have any registration holds.

Your loan will pay any outstanding charges that you have on your student account after your tuition and fees are fully paid off for the term.

If loan funds remain after charges have been paid, you will receive a refund and an email notification (refund email) 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. 

Notify the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office of the change online at studentcentral.berkeley.edu/open-case.

After Disbursement:

Visit Cal Student Central in person at 120 Sproul Hall or open a case online at studentcentral.berkeley.edu/open-case 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. It may take 4-6 weeks for the loan funds to be returned back to your lender as many departments are involved in the process before the fund can leave campus.