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Alliant Credit Union student loans review

Financing for those college expenses federal loans just don't cover.’s rating: 4.1 / 5.0


Starting at 4.56%



Max. Loan Amount


Min. Credit Score


Product NameAlliant Credit Union Traditional Student Loan
Minimum Loan Amount$3,000
Max. Loan Amount$60,000
APRStarting at 4.56%
Interest Rate TypeVariable
Maximum Loan Term12 years
RequirementsMust be an Alliant Credit Union member, enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting undergraduate or graduate program, have an annual income of $24,000+, a credit score of 680+, debt-to-income ratio of 43% or lower, no defaults on student loans and no bankruptcies in the past 3 years.
Federal loans are many students’ first option. They’re usually less expensive and you don’t need an independent financial history to qualify for most. But what do you do when your federal financial aid leaves you hanging?

Alliant Credit Union’s cut-and-dry student loans could help you out of a pinch — though you probably can’t finance your whole degree with them alone. Sound like something you need? We walk you through what’s to like and or dislike to help you decide if these loans are right for you.

Alliant Credit Union used to set the following requirements for its private student loan:

  • Be a member of Alliant Credit Union
  • Be enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting four-year undergraduate or graduate program
  • Make at least $24,000 a year or have a cosigner who makes at least $40,000 a year
  • Have a credit score of 680 or higher
  • A debt-to-income ratio (DTI) of 43% or lower
  • No defaults on student loans
  • No bankruptcies in the past three years

You might have difficulty qualifying if you or your cosigner have had any negative marks on your credit report in the past 36 months, such as foreclosures, repossessions worth more than $25,0000 or open collections of $1,000 or more.

How do Alliant Credit Union student loans work?

Alliant Credit Union student loans are relatively bare bones compared to other lenders. It offers one student loan for both undergraduate and graduate students with a fixed repayment plan. All loans came with a 12-year term, but there was no repayment penalty for paying it off early. Students also have the option of deferring repayments until six months after graduation.

Undergraduate students can borrow up to $15,000 per academic year, while graduate students are eligible to take out as much as $30,000. The maximum amount students can borrow is $60,000.

How much do Alliant Credit Union student loans cost?

Alliant Credit Union doesn’t charge any application fees, origination fees or prepayment penalties, so the cost of your loan depends on which interest rate you qualify for. It only offers variable rates, which go up and down over the life of your loan, so it’s difficult to nail down exactly how much you’ll pay.

Alliant calculates its variable rates based on the Wall Street Journal prime rate. To do this, it assigns each borrower a rate between 0% and 4% to add to the prime rate. The rate Alliant assigns you is called a margin rate and it doesn’t change over the life of your loan.

The lowest rate borrowers could’ve qualified for was 4.56%.

Does Alliant offer any discounts?

It does. Any student who signs up for autopay through the loan servicer can get a 0.4% reduction on interest — almost twice as much as what most lenders off.

What are my repayment options?

While you’re in school, you have the choice between three repayment options: Defer repayment until six months after you graduate, make interest-only repayments or make full repayments immediately.

Deferring repayments means you won’t have to pay anything until after you leave school, but your interest starts to accumulate. When you start making repayments, Alliant capitalizes your interest, which means it adds all of the interest that accumulated while you were in school to the amount you borrowed. This increases the amount of money that future interest is based on and increases the total cost of your loan.

Making interest-only repayments lets you avoid interest capitalization without having to scrimp together a full student loan repayment, which can be almost impossible for full-time students. If you can swing full repayments right away, however, you’ll save the most.

Once you’re done with the grace period, Alliant Credit Union only offers one standard repayment option. This means you’ll pay about the same amount each month, depending on how much you borrowed, your margin and what the current Wall Street Journal prime rate is.

What about deferment and forbearance?

Alliant Credit Union does have deferment and forbearance options, though you’ll have to wait until you have a loan with them to get more details. Its loan servicer, University Accounting Services, is unable to provide more information about these details unless you have an account with them.

Top reasons to consider getting a student loan from Alliant

  • Optional deferment. You don’t have to start making any repayments until after graduation — much like a federal loan.
  • No fees. You don’t have to pay any fees related to applying or paying off your loan early.
  • Small amounts available. You can borrow as little as $3,000 from Alliant — helping you keep the costs down and avoid taking out too much.
  • Straight-forward. Sometimes having too many options can be overwhelming. That’s not the case with Alliant.

Why you might want to look elsewhere

  • Limited uses. You can’t use Alliant student loans for post-graduate expenses like bar exams or medical residencies.
  • Potentially high rates. Alliant caps its variable rates at 18% — nearly twice as high as other private student loan providers.
  • Low loan amounts. You might need to find another lender if you need funding for your full educational expenses.
  • Dealing with multiple companies. If you’re concerned about your information changing hands, this might not be the lender for you. Alliant uses a third party to process its loans and a servicer to handle repayments.

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What do customers say about Alliant student loans?

We mostly found crickets when it came to customer comments on Alliant and its loan processor, cuLearn — even less when you want to know how borrowers experienced their student loans. Customers have been most vocal on Alliant’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) page — and what they say isn’t great.

As of this writing, 11 out of its 12 reviews are negative, and the company has 26 complaints filed against it. Nearly all comments and complaints involved its car loans, with customers pointing out problems with how Alliant handled the application process or any changes to the status quo — including stopping automatic payments. However, since Alliant uses a separate servicer and processor for its loan applications and repayments, it seems unlikely that this would apply to its student loans.

Despite the negative reviews, the BBB grants Alliant an A+ rating based on factors like transparency in advertising and how it handles customer complaints. It has no Trustpilot page or mentions of its student loans on other forums that we were able to find.

What to expect when applying for an Alliant student loan

Becoming a member of Alliant Credit Union

Before you can even apply for an Alliant student loan, you first have to become a member of the credit union. People who fall into one of the following categories are already eligible:

  • Employees of companies or members of organizations that partner with Alliant.
  • Immediate family or domestic partners of a current Alliant member.
  • Individuals who live in or near Alliant’s corporate headquarters in Chicago.

You can find out if your business is partnered with Alliant or your community is close enough to its headquarters during the first part of the membership application. Otherwise, you can become eligible for membership by donating $10 to Foster Care to Success, an organization that helps foster children adjust to life outside of the foster care system.

Your membership application involves opening an account and can be completed entirely online. Just go to the Alliant Credit Union website, click Become a Member and follow the directions to fill out the application. You’ll need your driver’s license and your Social Security number or a taxpayer identification number to complete your application.

Starting the Alliant student loan application

After you’re a member, make sure you meet Alliant’s other eligibility requirements for its Traditional Student Loan. If you can’t meet them on your own, make sure you have a cosigner who does. If you choose this option, consider applying around the same time to speed things up — otherwise the application can drag out for a couple of days. Here’s how to apply:

  1. Go to the Alliant Credit Union website and hover over Borrow in the top navigation bar. Click on Traditional Student Loan under the heading Student Loans.
  2. Hit the green and white Apply Now button.
  3. Click Register to create a new account. This will allow you to come back to your application later on.
  4. Fill in your personal information, and create a username and a password before hitting Register.
  5. Follow the directions to complete the application. Your cosigner will also need to register or select Alliant’s e-paper signature option to complete their part of the application.
  6. Wait for Alliant to review and respond to your application. The review process starts within 48 hours of submitting it and can take 10 business days.
  7. Wait as Alliant reaches out to your school to certify your costs and coordinate a loan disbursement date. This can take as long as 30 days.
  8. Review Alliant’s Truth-in-Lending Disclosure — essentially your loan’s terms and conditions — which you will typically get within seven business days after it verifies your costs.
  9. Review and sign the final promissory note with your final rate and loan amount, which you’ll receive generally between seven and 12 business days after Alliant sends you the Truth-in-Lending Disclosure. You have three days after submitting your promissory note to change your mind.

Alliant disburses your funds directly to your school. Once your tuition and fees are covered, you can pick up whatever’s left over from your school’s financial aid office.

Bottom line

Alliant student loans could be a good resource for undergraduate or graduate students who need a relatively small amount of funding to cover their expenses while in school. However, it might not be much help to those who need a more substantial amount of funds — like international students who don’t qualify for federal loans.

Want to look at what else is out there? Visit our student loans guide to compare private student loan providers and learn more about how student loans actually work.

Frequently asked questions

Can Alliant help me out with the application process?

Alliant Credit Union uses a nonprofit called cuLearn to process its student loans and University Accounting Services to take care of repayments.

If you have questions about the borrowing process, it’s best to reach out to cuLearn — though Alliant was happy to connect us when we called. University Accounting Services is unable to answer questions from students who aren’t already repaying a loan through them, however.

Can I use an Alliant student loan to pay for community college?

Unfortunately no. Alliant doesn’t provide student loans to pay for community college, for-profit schools or trade schools.

Does my credit score have an impact on my interest rate if I apply with a cosigner?

It doesn’t. Alliant only considers your cosigner’s credit score if you choose to apply with one.

Student loan ratings

★★★★★ — Excellent

★★★★★ — Good

★★★★★ — Average

★★★★★ — Subpar

★★★★★ — Poor

We rate student loan providers on a scale of 1 to 5 stars based on factors like transparency, costs and customer experience. We don’t take into account elements like eligibility criteria, state availability or payment frequency — we save that for our reviews.

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