About Private Loans

Private education loans are non-federal loans offered by some lenders and state governments. Private loans are designed to supplement a student's financial aid package and help fill in any gaps between the financial assistance that is offered by USD and other sources and the amount the student actually needs to cover the total cost of his or her education.

Private loans are not federally endorsed or guaranteed, but they must be certified, or approved, through the USD Financial Aid Office.  A private loan cannot exceed your cost of attendance (budget) minus all other financial aid.

Students applying for these types of loans should be aware that they may qualify for federal student loans, which may have terms and conditions that are more favorable than those offered by private lenders.  We recommend that you complete a FAFSA and apply for federal financial aid before applying for a private loan, as federal loans are generally more advantageous for student borrowers. After students exhaust all scholarships, Federal Stafford and Federal Perkins Loan eligibility, the Federal Plus or private loan may be borrowed up to the cost of attendance less any other financial aid.

Private loans are based on creditworthiness, so the initial step in applying is a credit check with the lender. Since the loans are not federally endorsed, each lender's loan program is different: Each loan varies on interest rates, fees charged, the amount you may borrow (minimum and maximum) and repayment terms.

Self-Certification Form

Self-Certification Form: Since February 2010, private (alternative) loan lenders have been required to provide new loan disclosures to borrowers. They are also required to collect additional information from you on a Private Education Loan Applicant Self-Certification Form, which can be downloaded from the Information for Financial Aid Professionals website .

This form will require the following information:

  • COA (Cost of attendance): an estimate of tuition and fees (based of full-time enrollment), room and board, transportation and other costs for the period of enrollment covered by the loan. Other costs could include expenses such as books, travel and personal expenses needed during the academic year. (View USD's Private Education Loan Self-Certification Cost of Attendance 2016-17)
  • Estimated financial assistance:  all federal, state, institutional (school), private and other sources of aid.  Your estimated financial assistance may be obtained from your award letter.  

Selecting a Lender

Selecting a lender for an alternative loan is an important decision, one that will affect you for the life of your loan. Students (and families) are encouraged to research the lender benefits, customer service and other information related to loan processing, services and cost. You have the right to select any lender you wish for an alternative loan and you are not required to borrow from the lenders listed below. 

The information below includes a comprehensive list of all active lenders that made private loans to USD students during the past three school years.  The lenders are listed in alphabetical order.    


Bank of North Dakota - Dakota Education Alternative Loan (DEAL)


Discover Student Loans    


iHELP Student Loans


Iowa Student Loans




Minnesota Self Loan



PNC Alternative Student Loans


SallieMae Smart Option Student Loan             


TruFit Student Loan (Charter One TruFit Student Loan)


Wells Fargo

USD does not endorse or recommend any specific lender(s) and you are free to borrow your student loan from any participating lender.  Private loans are obtained for the full academic year and will have two equal disbursements in the fall and spring semesters.