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Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships
Alternative Student Loans

Alternative student loans are private loans offered to students to assist with educational expenses.  SUNY ESF encourages all students and their families to carefully review the loan options available, and will provide as much support as possible to interested students.  In many cases, it is beneficial to the student and family to use William D. Ford Direct Student Loans before borrowing through other programs.

As alternative loans are privately funded, the associated terms and conditions will vary based on the chosen lender.  Students are highly encouraged to carefully review the details for any private loan for which they would like to apply.


Eligibility for an alternative student loan is initially determined by the lender chosen by the student.  In many cases, students with either no or bad credit ratings will need to apply with a co-signer or co-borrower in order to be approved.  Once the loan is approved by the lender, SUNY ESF will also need to certify the loan amount.  This process will usually start automatically following credit approval.

Alternative Student Loan Amounts

The amount available in alternative student loan funding will vary for each student.  The amount of each loan is determined by the chosen lender in consultation with the SUNY ESF Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships.  The process of approval and certification can vary by lender, but the process will generally work as follows:

  • The lender will approve the loan based on the amount requested and the student's and/or co-borrower's credit rating.  In some cases, the lender may approve an amount lower than what is requested.
  • The lender will request school certification for the approved amount.
  • SUNY ESF will certify the loan amount up to the allowed maximum.

In most cases, the maximum allowed for an alternative student loan is the same amount offered in PLUS loan funding on the student's initial Financial Aid Award Notification Letter.  In any case, the certified loan amount can not exceed the student's Cost of Attendance Budget minus any other financial aid received.  If the amount approved by the lender is higher than the allowable maximum, it will be reduced by the school.

Alternative Student Loan Terms and Conditions

Interest Rates
Alternative student loan interest rates are not federally regulated, and are therefore set by each individual lender.

Fees are also determined by the loan provider.

Most alternative loan products will offer three different payment options:

  1. Regular payments which begin after loan disbursement
  2. Interest only payments which begin after loan disbursement
  3. Deferred payments which do not begin until after the student leaves school.  Please note that interest will most likely accrue during the in-school period.

How to Apply for an Alternative Student Loan

Students should contact the lender of their choice for application instructions.  SUNY ESF advises that students pursue all other sources of funding before applying for an alternative student loan, and does not recommend the use of any specific lender.  However, students may wish to review the lenders available on the FASTChoice service.  The lenders listed represent those that are commonly used by SUNY ESF students or that provide information to the school for review.  Please be sure to carefully review all terms and conditions before completing an application.  If you choose to apply for such a loan you must apply with a lender.  The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships does not initiate the application process.  We recommend that you investigate more than one lender as the loan terms and conditions will vary.  Please note that the lenders are not in alphabetical or any form of preferential order.  Location on the list does not indicate SUNY ESF's rating of any lender in relation to the others.

Students are not required in any way to use a lender on this list if choosing to accept an alternative student loan.

Lenders are listed on the FASTChoice service.  Once on the FASTChoice page, you will be able to review all of the terms, conditions, and services available with each lender and compare them side-by-side.  You will also be able to access online applications for each of these lenders from the site and visit lender web pages directly.  Students are also encouraged to review the "Application and Solicitation Disclosures" required to be provided and available on FASTChoice.

Last updated on June 18, 2021