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Office of Financial Aid
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Federal Student Aid > Private/Alternative Loans

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Federal Student Aid

Private/Alternative Loans

After considering all of the resources available through the Teachers College Office of Financial Aid, some students need further assistance and choose to utilize a private loan through a lender that they have chosen. Non-degree students seeking financial assistance will also need to pursue a private loan if they are unable to pay their expenses out of pocket, as this particular student population is not eligible to receive federal loans or scholarship at TC.

The TC Office of Financial Aid does not promote or work with one particular private loan lender. We strongly encourage students to do their own independent research to determine which lender best suits their needs. Most of the major banks including Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Sallie Mae will provide private loans to graduate students depending on the student's qualifications. Students who choose the private loan route will apply for the loan independently, and the lender will electronically send the loan information to Teachers College for certification.

International students will need a co-signer who is either a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident in order to apply. The person who co-signs the loan cannot have an adverse credit history.

Before seeking a private loan, you should first ensure that you have:
  • Exhausted all other federal aid resources. In this situation, it may be best to speak directly with a counselor in our office.
  • Noted that many private loan lenders will not be as flexible as the federal lenders will be with you in terms of repayment.
  • Discussed alternative payment options and plans with the Office of Student Accounts.
  • Contacted friends and/or family for financial assistance.
If you decide to borrow from a private loan lender, you should:
  • Borrow only what you need to pay your expenses.
  • Fully understand the terms and conditions associated with your loan.
  • Use comparison charts and checklists to ensure that you find the best deal with regard to grace periods, interest rates, and repayment options.
  • Remember that borrowing now will impact your life in the future.
  • Revisit your goals and work to thoroughly understand what you will face during repayment.
Contact our office for additional guidance. Click here to learn how to avoid deceptive offers, and use this chart to understand the differences between federal versus private loans.