Applying for Loans

When applying for financial aid, you may be offered loans as part of your financial aid award from the College of Charleston.

While you may be offered a student loan as part of your financial aid, you do not need to accept it. When you apply for financial aid, College of Charleston evaluates your eligibility for ALL types of aid including grants and loans. If your grants, scholarships and other resources are not enough, a student loan may be a viable option to help you cover your education expenses.

  • Federal student loans allow students and their parents to borrow money to help pay for college through loan programs supported by the federal government. Federal loans usually have lower interest rates and offer flexible repayment options, benefits and options. Generally, repayment of a federal loan does not begin until after the student leaves school.

  • Private/Alternative Loans are nonfederal loans issued by a private lender such as a bank or credit union. Private loans may have variable interest rates, require a credit check and may lack the benefits of federal student loans.

    We encourage you to consider all financial options before applying for a private/alternative loan.

How to Apply

Follow these steps for applying for federal or private/alternative loans.
  • Applying for Federal Loans

    To apply for Federal Loans:

    1. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
    2. Based on your FAFSA, College of Charleston will determine how much financial aid you are eligible to receive. Federal Direct Loans will generally be included as part of your College of Charleston financial aid offer.
    3. Accept or decline the loans offered to you as part of your financial aid offer in MyPortal.
    4. Complete a Master Promissory Note and Entrance Loan Counseling at

    The amount you may borrow is limited to the College of Charleston cost of attendance minus any other financial aid you may receive.

  • Applying for Private/Alternative Loans

    Private/alternative loans are meant to supplement your federal or state financial aid when these funds do not meet the cost of attendance.

    Important things to consider before applying for a private/alternative loan:

    • The College of Charleston does not recommend a lender.
    • You can borrow an amount up to the cost of attendance minus other financial aid.
    • Private/alternative loans require a credit check and may require a cosigner.

    How do I find a lender? 

    ELMSelect is a lender-neutral platform that contains a list of lenders and featuring side-by-side comparisons of several different student loan products.  You are not limited to those on the ELMSelect list. 

    Before you apply

    • Collect all the information that you need prior to starting the application process. Most lender applications require information on the borrower (the student), a co-borrower (also referred to as a co-signer) and several references.
    • Identify a co-borrower (also called a co-signer) that will strengthen your application.
    • Plan to apply for more than one loan. Research indicates applying for too many loans may have a negative impact on credit score. The trade off is by not applying for more than one loan you may be missing an opportunity to save.  It pays to compare! Do your homework and find the lender that best suits your needs.

    After you apply

    • Lender Contacts the College. Once approved, the lender will send the loan certification request to the College to verify your enrollment
    • The College's Office of Financial Assistance and Veterans Affairs Certifies. The certification process generally takes 5-7 business days and includes a "right to cancel" period before funds are released by the lender.
    • Lender Releases Funds to the College. Once the College receives your loan funds from the lender, the funds will be applied to your tuition and any outstanding charges on your account.  Any balance owed to you will either be deposited in your checking or savings account, or a check will be mailed to your address.