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Alternative Educational Financing

The Financial Aid Department strives to meet the demonstrated financial need of Western Washington University students. Due to certain eligibility limitations and availability of funds, some students may have a gap between their financial need and the amount of funds that federal, state, and institutional aid programs can provide. Alternatives are available to help fill the funding gap.


The Student Employment Center is a free resource for Western students seeking part-time employment. Employment opportunities for work study and non-work study positions are posted online at

Pre-payment Option

Students have the option of directly pre-paying Western Washington University for quarterly tuition and fees. Some families find that pre-paying smaller monthly amounts prior to the first day of the quarter is more affordable than making larger single payments at the beginning of each quarter. For more information, contact Student Business Office in Old Main 110 or at (360) 650-2865.

Alternative Educational Loans

Several banks and lending agencies offer alternative educational loans to credit-worthy borrowers or to borrowers with credit-worthy cosigners. We encourage students to carefully consider their options and needs before applying for an alternative loan.

Consider federal, state and institutional financial aid first
Students should always submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine their eligibility for federal, state, and institutional aid. The FAFSA is available online at Western's priority deadline is January 31st of each year.

Students who are not eligible to complete the FAFSA may be eligible to apply for state funding by completing the Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA). Information is available at

Educational loans offered through the Federal Direct Loan program are generally more favorable than loans available through private lenders. As you consider borrowing an alternative loan, review the differences between Federal loans and alternative loans. Students must complete a valid FAFSA to receive loans through the Federal Direct Loan program.

Have more questions or need help with your options? Please contact the Financial Aid Services Center and make an appointment with a financial aid counselor. We are happy to help!

Federal Student Loans vs. Private Student Loans
Federal Student Loans Private Student Loans
You will not have to start repaying your federal student loans until you graduate, leave school, or change your enrollment status to less than half-time. Many private student loans require payments while you are still in school.
The interest rate is fixed and is often lower than private loans—and much lower than some credit card interest rates. View the current interest rates on federal student loans. Private student loans can have variable interest rates, some greater than 18%. A variable rate may substantially increase the total amount you repay.
Undergraduate students with financial need will likely qualify for a subsidized loan where the government pays the interest while you are in school on at least a half-time basis. Private student loans are not subsidized. No one pays the interest on your loan but you.
You don’t need to get a credit check for most federal student loans (except for PLUS loans). Federal student loans can help you establish a good credit record. Private student loans may require an established credit record. The cost of a private student loan will depend on your credit score and other factors.
You won’t need a cosigner to get a federal student loan in most cases. You may need a cosigner.
If you are having trouble repaying your loan, you may be able to temporarily postpone or lower your payments. Private student loans may not offer forbearance or deferment options.
There are several repayment plans, including an option to tie your monthly payment to your income. You should check with your lender to find out about your repayment options.
You may be eligible to have some portion of your loans forgiven if you work in public service. Learn about our loan forgiveness program. It is unlikely that your lender will offer a loan forgiveness program.

Borrow only what you need
As interest rates on alternative loans are generally higher than Federal loan options, carefully calculate the amount of alternative loan needed. Use the cost of attendance calculator to assist you in determining your loan needs. Tuition rates and on-campus housing rates are available online.

Compare loan options
Loan terms vary by lender. The terms can significantly impact the amount you pay over the life of your loan. Consider terms such as interest rates, loan origination fees, repayment options, cancellation/forgiveness options and approval requirements.

How much will you owe when you begin to repay your loan?
Use a loan payment calculator to consider your estimated monthly payment and total repayment amount.

Alternative Loan Application and Disbursement Process

Once you have decided that borrowing an alternative loan is the best option for you, follow the steps below to complete the application and disbursement process.

Financial Aid employees are prohibited from entering into revenue-sharing arrangements with lenders, steering borrowers to particular lenders, intentionally delaying loan certifications from selected lenders, or entering agreements with lenders regarding loan volume or preferred lender status. You are free to select any lender you choose.

Step 1:
Go to FASTChoice and research potential lenders (or contact a lender of your choice to apply with).

Step 2:
From FASTChoice, click the “Apply” button next to the lender you wish to apply with.

Step 3:
Once directed to the lender’s site, complete all requirements as requested by the lender. Lenders will notify Western of new alternative loan certification requests once all lender requirements have been completed.

Step 4:
Once your loan is certified and you will receive an email in your official WWU email account. Funds will be sent to Western approximately 14 days after the certification date.

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