Who's Who

The loan process includes many people whose names and responsibilities may confuse you. Knowing everyone's role will help you better understand your loan and how it works.

Participants in the loan process.

Borrower

This individual (it's likely to be you) is responsible for repaying a loan. The borrower has agreed to the loan's terms and conditions by signing the promissory note.

Co-Maker

By signing the promissory note along with you, the borrower, the co-maker assumes responsibility for the loan in the event that you are not making payments or cannot pay. As of July 1, 2010, co-makers are no longer needed for any federal student loans.

Co-Signer

The need for a co-signer varies by type of loan and lender. You may benefit from a creditworthy co-signer if you do not meet the minimum credit criteria. Having a co-signer may increase your chances that the loan will be approved and, perhaps, may get you a better interest rate.

Endorser

An endorser is any person who agrees to repay a PLUS loan or an alternative (private) loan if the borrower does not repay it.

Graduate Student

This type of student is enrolled in a program or course of study above the baccalaureate level after having already completed the equivalent of at least 3 years of full-time study.

Guarantor

Having a guarantor lessens a lender's risk, since most students have little credit history and little collateral with which to repay a student loan. Unlike an endorser (or co-signer), a guarantor backs up the lender, not the borrower. As of July 1, 2010, guarantors are no longer needed for any federal student loans.

Lender

A lender is the bank or other institution that provides the money for your student loan. In the case of federal direct loans, the lender is the U.S. Department of Education.

Parent

For purposes of federal loan eligibility, a parent may be your biological or adoptive mother or father or your stepparent if your biological or adoptive mother or father has remarried at the time of the application. Please note that a grandparent is not included in this definition.

Professional Student

This type of student is enrolled in a professional degree program after having already completed the equivalent of at least 3 years of full-time study.

Servicer

The servicer is the party who communicates most with you and oversees all loan administration, including processing payments and managing deferments, etc. A servicer can be the original lender, a new lender who has purchased the loan from the original lender, or a third party who administers the loan program on behalf of a lender.

Undergraduate Student

This type of postsecondary student is enrolled in an undergraduate course that usually does not exceed 5 years.

Helpful Tips

Helpful Hint

Don't know who services your federal loans?
To find out, sign in to NSLDS.ed.gov using your PIN. Keep track of all of your servicers (PDF) and their contact information.