Understanding: What is a Private Loan?

Private Education Loans are credit-based loans provided by private educational lenders, and are not issued, insured, or guaranteed by the federal government. A private student loan can assist in closing the gap between need-based financial aid and total education costs.

Students are encouraged to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and exhaust all federal and state financial aid options before considering a private loan. However, it is up to a student to determine the best means for themselves to pay for their education.

Private loan eligibility is determined by lender credit review, individual lender terms and conditions and is typically issued in the student’s name; most often requiring a credit worthy cosigner. Borrowers should compare interest rates, repayment options, forbearance, and deferment options as these features vary among lenders.

Federal vs. Private Loans  Preferred Lender List  Private Loan FAQs

Applying: A Guide for Borrowers

We recommend that you apply for a private loan no more than three months prior to the start of the term. Private loans are credit based and conditionally approved for an average of 90 to 120 days (about 4 months).

Visit the Office of the Registrar: Academic Calendar for term specific start dates.

Please Note: Credit expirations vary by lender; therefore, all questions regarding lender credit expiration must be directed to the respective lender.

Fall/Spring Semesters

During the application process you will be required to provide the loan term dates; this refers to the term(s) of enrollment for which the private loan is applied; this includes either a full academic year or single portion of the academic year (term/semester).

Fall/Spring Loan Periods

Term Start Date End Date
Fall and Spring August May
Fall only August December
Spring only January May

Refer to Office of the Registrar: Academic Calendar for additional academic year/term information.

We encourage students who need to borrow a private loan for both the fall and spring terms to submit their loan application for the full year instead of submitting a separate application for each term; full year loan amounts will be split evenly between the fall and spring terms.


Summer Financial Aid: Student’s must submit The JMU Summer School Financial Aid Application; this application is required even if a student is only using a private loan for the summer termFailure to submit the application may cause significant delays in the processing of your loan.

Summer private loans have separate loan term dates and require a separate loan application from fall and spring private loans. 

Combining summer with any other term may result in significant delays in loan processing.

Summer Semester Loan Period

Term Start Date End Date
Summer May August

Researching and comparing lenders is crucial and will ensure the lender and loan product selected best suits a borrower’s financial needs.

Borrowers have the right to borrow with any lender offering a private education loan regardless of whether they are listed on JMU’s Preferred Lender List. JMU does not discriminate against lenders and will certify loans from any lender provided the student meets the lender’s eligibility requirements.

Explore the JMU Preferred Lender List to compare lender loan products.

Preferred Lender List

The lenders and loan products presented on the JMU Preferred Lender List were selected for the excellent terms and benefits they provide to borrowers. We use strict criteria based on the interests of our students; this information is reviewed annually to ensure that the benefits the lenders offer continue to adhere to our criteria.

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