Loan Basics

Student in the library. Credit: © Alan S. Orling/Office of Public Affairs

Borrowing from a Bank, Government or Lending Company

Borrowing money from a bank, government or lending company is called taking out a loan. A loan must be paid back with an extra charge called interest. The federal government offers low-interest loans to students with financial need. Other lenders charge more interest.

To be eligible for education loans from private sources, applicants must demonstrate that they have managed debt responsibly. Unlike most federally sponsored loans that have either no credit requirements or minimal credit criteria, private lenders carefully review credit history to determine eligibility for their loan programs.


Before You Explore Your Loan Options: Disclosure on Lender Information

Before you and your family begin to explore your loan options, we ask that you read the disclosure below regarding the suggested lenders featured on this website.

Columbia makes no representations, warranties or guarantees that the financing options presented in this site are the most attractive terms available to any particular student. In addition, please note that Columbia University is not a lender and is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, financial planning, or other professional services. Any agreements entered into with the providers whose products are included in this site will exist solely between the provider and the student, and Columbia assumes no obligation or liability in connection with any such agreements. We recommend that you consult with your own expert advisors before making educational financing decisions.

In addition, please read the University's Disclosure Concerning Lenders in relation to the lenders presented in this site. Students and parents have the right and ability to select the education loan provider of their choice, are not required to use any of these suggested lenders and will suffer no penalty for choosing a lender that is not included here as a suggested lender.

PLEASE NOTE: The terms and conditions of federal student loans or assistance may be more favorable or beneficial than the terms and conditions of private education loans.


Columbia students may apply for the following loans:



If you are a prospective or current undergraduate student at Columbia College or SEAS, you can also learn more about educational loans at their designated office of financial aid.