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Alternative Loans

Last updated on Sep 28, 2023

Private or alternative educational loans are not federally guaranteed and should be considered after your eligibility for all other types of federal aid, including Federal Pell Grants, Federal Direct Loans, and Federal Direct PLUS loans have been exhausted.

Advantages & Drawbacks

The repayment terms of federal loan programs may be more favorable than the terms of private student loans. Private loans cannot be included in Federal Direct Consolidation Loans and are not eligible for the Federal Income-Based Repayment Plans or for Federal Economic Hardship Deferments.

Private educational loan programs require the borrower to have a satisfactory credit history and may require a cosigner in some cases. Before selecting a lender, students should carefully review all program information, such as interest rates, benefits, and repayment provisions.

Loan Comparison Tools

ELM Select

ELMSelect is a lender comparison tool CCA uses to display our historical lender list. This list is not all encompassing and students are encouraged to find their best option when using financing. Students are encouraged to read all terms and conditions before applying for a private loan. The lenders in this list appear in random order and will be in a different order every time you access this site.


Credible is a free online tool that allows students to compare personalized loans from multiple lenders. Not all lenders are participating in this comparison tool and therefore will not be represented in the outputs. Students can analyze pre-qualified rates, terms, and eligibility rules side-by-side for those lenders that participate with Credible in just a matter of minutes.


CCA does not endorse in any way any of the lenders on this list provided by either ELMSelect or Credible, and will process any private loan lender of your choosing whether they appear in either of these tools or not.

Borrowers should initiate the private student loan application process directly with the lender in order to ensure all of the preliminary steps (credit approvals, promissory notes, etc.) have been completed prior to CCA's certification of the loan application.

Loan Application Tips

Gather Information

Before completing an application, make sure you gather important information such as your:

  • current address and phone number
  • social security number (SSN)
  • driver’s license number
  • employment information—yours and your cosigner’s--if applicable name and contact information of at least one personal reference

Find A Cosigner

Most applicants will need to have a cosigner to meet lender credit requirements.

Select A Lender & Apply Online

Visit ELMSelect or Credible to compare loans and choose a lender. If your lender is not listed on either of these websites, please provide the Financial Aid Office with your lender’s name and contact information. Once you begin the loan application, the Application Disclosure provides general information about your loan. If your loan requires a cosigner, your cosigner should complete all relevant portions online. You may need to provide your cosigner with your application number for reference purposes.

After Applying

Watch For An Email Or Letter From Your Lender

This letter should include instructions for the next steps regarding your application.

Complete The Applicant Self-Certification Form

This form may be available online, sent via email as an attachment, or sent via ground service through the United States Postal Service. Review the applicant self-certification form instructional PDF for additional guidance in filling out the form.

Read Your Approval Disclosure

This disclosure offers information on specific loan terms that will not change for at least 30 days. Like the form mentioned above, it may be made available to you online, as an attachment to an email, or sent via U.S. postal service.

Stay In Contact With CCA & Your Lender

Once all required paperwork is received, including the self-certification form, your lender is expected to contact the college to verify you need financial assistance to pay for tuition and other education-related expenses.

It can take up to 48 hours for CCA to provide the lender with the requested information.

Watch for the Final Disclosure that provides information for canceling the loan as well as updated cost information.

After a mandatory cancellation period (required by law), the lender sends the loan funds to CCA, where they are applied to the student’s CCA student account.