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Loan Options for Graduate Students

The Office of Financial Aid guides graduate students through the loan application process.

  • Although loans should not be a students’s first option to pay for school, many students may need to borrow to pay a portion of their education costs.


    • Consider federal loans first. They often provide better benefits.
    • Click here for more information on federal loans.

    Federal Direct Loan Fixed Interest Rates 

    For loans disbursed in 2019-2020

    • Direct Unsubsidized Loans: 6.08%

    Estimate Your Loan Repayment

    Entrance Counseling

    Entrance counseling is required of all first time student borrowers. If you are borrowing federal loans for the first time at WLC, you must complete this session before your loan funds can be disbursed.

    1. Go to
    2. Log in with your FSA ID
    3. Complete Loan Counseling --> Entrance Counseling (Required)

    Exit Counseling

    Exit counseling is a federal requirement before you withdraw, graduate, or drop below half-time attendance (even if you are planning to transfer to another school). The session includes information on repayment options for your federal loans and will take about 30 minutes to complete. 

    1. Go to
    2. Log in with your FSA ID
    3. Complete Loan Counseling --> Exit Counseling (Required)

    Explore Loan Programs and Options

    Select a heading below to explore loan programs options. 

    Questions? Contact the Office of Financial Aid by phone at 414.443.8856, by fax at 414.443.8540, or via email.


    Federal Direct Loan Program

    These fixed rate federal loans for students enable you to borrow for college now and repay after college. No income or credit history is required.

    Features include:

    • Fixed interest rate for Direct Loans borrowed by graduate students in 2019-2020 is 6.08%.
    • A 1.062% origination fee (Subject to change by the U.S. Department of Education)
    • Repayment begins 6 months after student drops below half time status or after graduation
    • Standard 10 year repayment plan with other repayment options available
    • A 0.25% interest rate reduction when you pay via auto-debit during repayment

    Your FAFSA determines the type of loan you can receive. Your loan eligibility for the year is reflected on your financial aid award.

    Unsubsidized Loan:

    Interest accrues and can either be paid periodically while you are in school or capitalized (added to the principal of your loan to repay later).

    Maximum annual loan eligibility for graduate students is $20,500.


    Private education loans are specific consumer loans in the student's name offered by private lenders to help pay education expenses for the year. These need to be researched very carefully as they are not federal loans. Our office recommends borrowing Federal Direct Unsubsidized loans before borrowing a private education loan.

    Features include:

    • Cosigner may be required
    • Must undergo credit check
    • Variable interest rates may change monthly or quarterly
    • Fixed interest rates offered by some lenders

    Tips for Selecting a Private Education Loan

    1. Where can you find a Private Education Loan?

    Some banks and credit unions offer private education loans. You can borrow from a lender of your choice or from a lender listed on the WLC Private Loan Options site.

    • CU Student Loans
    • Discover Student Loans
    • Minnesota SELF Loans (must be a Minnesota resident)
    • Sallie Mae Smart Option Loan
    • Sallie Mae Graduate School Loan
    • Thrivent Federal Credit Union Private Student Loan
    2. What are the interest rates and fees charged private education loans?

    Each lender determines the interest rate and fee structure for its own loan programs. Most lenders do not charge fees at this time. Many lenders do offer both fixed rate and variable rate loans. They will typically base the interest rate on a benchmark such as prime or LIBOR plus a specific percent margin. For variable rate loans, as prime or LIBOR go up or down, so will your interest rate.

    3. When does repayment begin and how long does it last?

    Many private education loan programs start the payments 6 months after college graduation (or after leaving school). Interest accrues while you are still in school. Typical repayment plans last anywhere from 7-25 years. You will save money by making interest-only payments, by making $25 monthly payments, or by starting immediate repayment on the principal and interest of the loan while you are in school. To save even more money, consider paying the loan off as fast as possible!

    Remember to borrow only what is needed when using a private education loan. Compare loan programs to determine the program that is best for you.

    Applying for a Private Education Loan

    1. Determine the amount of loan needed for the entire school year. Be sure to borrow your maximum Direct Unsubsidized Loans first.
    2. Determine the private education loan that you plan to use.
    3. Sign the promissory note and complete the requirements of the lender for that loan program.

    Private Loan Options

    If you prefer to borrow from a lender of your choice, go to the lender's website to apply for the loan.

    Private Lender Selection Disclosure

    Wisconsin Lutheran College officials select private lenders based on the best interest of the students. The criteria includes but is not limited to benefits offered to the borrower, customer service provided to the borrower, ease of applying for loans and timely processing. The list includes three or more lenders and is reviewed annually to ensure that the lenders continue to meet our criteria. Borrowers can select a lender from the list or any other lender of their choice.

    Wisconsin Lutheran College prohibits officials from accepting benefits (financial or other) from lenders. These prohibitions include: participating in revenue-sharing arrangements where Wisconsin Lutheran College would receive revenue for recommending lenders to students; accepting gifts of more than minimal value including trips and entertainment; allowing contracting arrangements related to education loans; assigning students to a specific lender or refusing to certify a loan from a specific lender; accepting offers of funds for private loans; accepting assistance with office staffing from a lender; and receiving anything of value from a lender, guarantor or group for serving on an advisory board except for reimbursement of reasonable expenses incurred for serving on the board.

    Wisconsin Lutheran College is allowed to accept training materials, training sessions, assistance with entrance and exit loan counseling sessions as long as the presenter does not promote the services of a specific lender and philanthropic contributions as long as they are not related to education loans.