Carleton’s financial aid offers limit the amount of loans, so students are not burdened by excessive debt at graduation. The average amount of debt was $20,881 for 2023 graduates, which is significantly less than the national average of $33,000.

Regardless of whether they were offered aid, families can still apply for loans. Families may also choose to explore loan amounts beyond what was listed in the student’s financial aid offer. To help navigate loan options, here is a list of different types of educational loans. We encourage families to review these things to know about educational loans before applying.

Carleton’s financial aid offers are designed to keep loans to a manageable amount. However, before applying for any loans, there are a few things to know.

  • Be sure you understand the repayment terms, conditions, and payment amounts.
  • The payment amount is affected by the interest rate, the amount borrowed and the length of repayment.
  • Common loan characteristics to be aware of when researching loan options include:
    • Usually loan is made in student’s name
    • Many require a co-signer
    • Having a co-signer may result in a better interest rate
    • Credit check usually required of student and co-signer
    • Interest rates vary and typically are determined by results of credit check
    • Interest rates are usually variable, adjusting quarterly, monthly, or annually, and are based on current LIBOR or Prime rates
    • Interest begins to accrue once loan is disbursed
    • Some require payments while student is in college

Selecting A Lender

Students and guardians can seek educational loans through a variety of lenders.

If you are interested in exploring alternative loans other than the ones listed on Carleton’s Alternative Lender List, you can also inquire about private alternative loans from your state higher education department or your local banks and credit unions.

Carleton does not endorse any lender and provides this information only as a courtesy for our students. As with any borrowing decision, make sure you understand all the loan terms before signing.

A note on need-based (subsidized) federal loans: Federal subsidized loan eligibility is calculated by subtracting your family contribution (as determined by FAFSA) and all other grants, scholarships and student employment awards from a school’s total cost of attendance.