Alternative Loans

We advise students to fund the family contribution, to the maximum extent possible, through savings and current year earnings. Our payment plan can help by allowing families to spread the payments out over five months per each semester. If educational loan borrowing is needed, a PLUS or MEFA Undergraduate Loan is typically the lower cost option for families. Students who seek alternative loan options should first ensure that they have maximized their low-interest federal student loan eligibility

Tips for Minimizing Your Need to Borrow

  • Apply for scholarships.
    (Don't overlook parent employers and community organizations for scholarships opportunities!)
  • Enroll in the interest-free MHC Payment Plan.
  • Save money over the summer.

Tips for Selecting an Educational Loan

  • Borrow the maximum in federally guaranteed student loans. (See: student loan maximum limits.) All domestic students can borrow a Federal Direct Student Loan (FDSL) whether they have applied for financial aid or not. To apply for the FDSL students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Students whose parent has been denied a PLUS loan have two options: an additional unsubsidized student loan or obtaining an endorser for the PLUS loan (another relative who can pass the credit check and promise to repay if the parent cannot).
  • Focus on discounts that are impossible to lose. Learn more...
  • When applying for a private loan, use a co-signer with a higher credit score to get the lowest rate possible.
  • Don't apply for too many loans. Multiple loan applications will likely reduce your FICO score.
  • Consider a lender who has a low rate, yet a narrow spread between the lowest and highest rates.
  • Private Student Loan Comparison Chart on

Any off-site links above do not represent endorsement by Mount Holyoke College.


Students should consider the following, among other features, when researching loans:

  • Interest rate (based on Prime or Libor)
  • Co-borrower required or recommended (may mean a lower rate or reduced fees)
  • Origination Fees (front-end benefits)
  • Repayment benefits and costs (automatic or earned)
  • Repayment timing and cost of deferral
  • Servicer (will the borrower retain the servicer and all repayment benefits for the life of the loan)
  • Limit on options for grad school and/or non-profit career

Below is a pdf with a list of loan programs that Mount Holyoke students have borrowed from recently. It is not exhaustive or exclusive. Mount Holyoke College realizes no financial or other benefit in providing this list. This list exists solely as a service to Mount Holyoke students and represents only a small portion of the loans available to students. Students always have the right to the lender of their choice and Student Financial Services will process any loan requested. We are  happy to discuss loan options with students, but will not direct them to a particular funding source.

International Students with qualified U.S. co-signers may be eligible to borrow an alternative loan from many of the lenders on this list as well.

Note: Before applying for a non-school certified loan (such as those advertised on TV), please contact Student Financial Services. SFS counselors should be consulted to ensure you have exhausted more favorable financing options before utilizing direct-to-consumer loan products.

Offsite links are provided as a courtesy and do not imply endorsement by Mount Holyoke College.

Alternative Lender Information

Loan Comparison Tools

Please email Student Financial Services if you wish to give us feedback on a past or present loan you have borrowed. We would like to know why you chose your loan or if you have concerns about the lender or loan program you chose.

You may also want to read Frequently Asked Questions about MHC student loans.