Private loans are non-federal loans issued by lenders such as banks, and credit unions. These programs allow students to borrow up to the full cost of attendance minus other forms of financial aid. Private loans carry variable interest rates based on the LIBOR rate or the Prime rate and repayment periods may range from 5 to 25 years. Most students will need a creditworthy co-signer such as a parent in order to obtain a private loan.

Before you decide to borrow, carefully research all of your options. We strongly encourage students to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)Opens in new window  to determine their eligibility for federal student aid and Federal Direct LoansOpens in new window before considering private loans. Private loans are typically a more expensive borrowing option, therefore, should only be considered after eligibility for all federal student and parent loan options have been determined. Find out more about the differences between federal and private loansOpens in new window  on the Federal Student Aid website.

pRivate loan application process

  1. Research private lenders online and apply with a lender of your choice. Lenders will provide you with the required self-certification form; all documents will need to be submitted to your lender.
  2. The processing of private loans by the Office of Financial Aid begins in July/August.
  3. Once your loan is approved, the Office of Financial Aid will receive a request for electronic certification. This typically takes 1-2 business days. Note that during the busy period from July to September, loan posting might take longer, around 4-7 weeks.
  4. Keep in mind that Private Lender Credit Decisions come with expiration dates. For details about the credit decision's expiry, get in touch with your lender. If you apply for a private loan before the Office of Financial Aid starts processing loans, there could be a delay if your loan decision expires and you need to reapply.
  5. The Office of Financial Aid will review the application and make sure you meet eligibility criteria.
  6. If the criteria are met, your loan will be electronically certified.
  7. The loan amount will be sent to the school and applied to your student account. It will cover any outstanding school balance, and if there's an excess, it will be refunded to you. This process may take 6-10 business days due to the right of cancellation period.

The Truth in Lending Act Requires lenders who provide private loans to comply with the following: 

  • Lenders must provide three separate loan disclosures to borrowers; one at the point of application, one when the loan is approved, and one before the loan is disbursed.  

  • A waiting period or right to cancellation period is required between the time the borrower receives the final loan disclosure and the time that the loan is disbursed.   

Students must sign a self-certification form (this is provided to you by the lender) and submit it to the lender before the loan can be disbursed.


California State University, Fullerton cannot recommend specific lenders. Students and parents can compare and contrast the terms and conditions of each loan option and select a private student loan that best suits their financial circumstances. For detailed information please refer to the Student Lending Code of Conduct (pdf)PDF File Opens in new window  that applies to all CSU campuses.