If you apply for financial aid by filing the FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov, you may be offered loans as part of your financial aid offer. A loan is money you borrow and must pay back with interest, even if you do not complete your program. Refer to the "How to Apply" page for additional information on the application and awarding process.
If you decide to borrow a loan, make sure you understand who is making the loan and the terms and conditions of the loan. Student loans can come from the federal government, from private sources such as a bank or financial institution, or from other organizations. Loans made by the federal government, called federal student loans, have different benefits or terms than loans from banks or other private sources.
Types of Federal Student Loans Available
The U.S. Department of Education’s federal student loan program is the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program (previously known as "Stafford" Loans). Under this program, the U.S. Department of Education is your lender. There are four types of Direct Loans available, all with fixed interest rates:
Direct Subsidized Loans are loans made to eligible undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. The federal government does not charge interest on subsidized loans while you are enrolled at least half-time.
- Note: There is a limit on the maximum period of time (measured in academic years) that you can receive Direct Subsidized Loans. You may not receive Direct Subsidized Loans for more than 150 percent of the published length of your program. For example, if you are enrolled in a four-year bachelor’s degree program, the maximum period for which you can receive Direct Subsidized Loans is six years (150 percent of 4 years = 6 years).
Direct Unsubsidized Loans are loans made to eligible undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, but eligibility is not based on financial need. Interest begins accruing once the loan is disbursed. Interest rate and fee information can be found online at https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/loans/subsidized-unsubsidized#what-are-the-current-interest-rates.
If you accept a loan that is offered to you, which you can do in MyRED, then you must complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and Loan Entrance Counseling. You do not have to accept the full amount of the loan that is offered. You can accept a lower amount of the loan in MyRED. If you decline a loan, it is cancelled. However, if you change your mind later, it may be able to be re-offered to you. There are annual and aggregate student loan limits, which can be found online at loan limits.
When you leave school, you must complete Direct Loan Exit Counseling. You should complete counseling shortly before you graduate or cease at least half-time enrollment. The grace period, or the time before your first payment is due, for Direct Loans is six months, which begins when you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment. You can use the Loan Simulator on the studentaid.gov website to estimate your monthly loan repayment after you leave school. On this site, you can also see the different repayment plan options.
When repayment begins, you will make your payments to the federal government via a student loan servicer. You can login to the National Student Loan Database System (NSLDS) at nslds.ed.gov to look up your loan servicer and their contact information. Under certain circumstances, the federal government will forgive all or a portion of a Direct Loan.
For more information, visit https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/forgiveness-cancellation or consult with your loan servicer.
Direct PLUS Loans are loans made to graduate or professional students and parents of dependent undergraduate students to help pay for education expenses not covered by other financial aid. Eligibility is not based on financial need, but a credit check is required. Borrowers who have an adverse credit history must meet additional requirements to qualify. Borrowers must complete the correct Direct PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN).
A parent loan option maximum is included on the financial aid offer for dependent students so you are aware of this as an option and the maximum amount for which your parent(s) could be considered. As a student, you cannot accept this loan in MyRED as it a loan borrowed by your parent who must apply. However, you can decline it if you or your parents are not interested in borrowing a parent loan.
Your parent can apply for the Federal Direct PLUS Loan online at studentaid.gov (your parent would need to login with their FSA ID). Also, you are not limited to this option as you or your parent may apply for a private/alternative loan instead. For more details about the Federal Direct PLUS Loan, visit https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/loans/plus/parent.
A graduate Direct PLUS Loan is offered to eligible graduate and professional students enrolled at least half-time.
Repayment of Direct PLUS loans begin 60 days after the entire loan is disbursed for a school year. The borrower has the option of beginning repayment on the loan either 60 days after the loan is fully disbursed or wait until six months after the student on whose behalf the loan is borrowed ceases to be enrolled at least half-time. Generally, monthly payments will include both a portion of the loan principal and the interest that is owed on the loan principal for that month and are made to the loan servicer.
Direct Consolidation Loans allow you to combine all of your eligible federal student loans into a single loan with a single loan servicer. Currently, these are only eligible through the federal government once you are out of school and you can consult your loan servicer for more information regarding the decision to consolidate your loans.
Alternative Loan Information
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has partnered with ELMSelect to offer a tool that will help students and families. ELMSelect has collected all private lenders used by UNL students in the past five years. The tool allows you to select lenders that specialize in your program and to compare rates and conditions in order to select the loan product that best fits your need.
Helpful Tips for using ELM Select:
- If you are an international student, you will select “International” from the program list.
- If your parent plans to apply for a private loan, select “Parent Loans” from the program list.
- Once you have reached the list of lenders for your program, you can filter by SAP, Less Than Half Time Enrollment, and Past Due Balance (by using the funnel in the upper right-hand corner of the page).
- You are also able to sort by interest rate. There is a Loan Estimator function to help you plan for your monthly payment.
Application priority dates (application must be complete) to ensure funding is sent to the university before the first disbursement of aid to students' accounts for the semester are as follows:
- Summer Semester Only - April 15, 2023
- 2023-2024 Academic Year - June 15, 2023
- Fall 2023 Semester Only - June 15, 2023
- Spring 2024 Semester Only - November 15, 2023
Important Things to Consider:
- What is a realistic projection of your starting salary and future earnings potential?
- What other loans or obligations do you already have or are likely to take on in the near future? How much of your future income is already committed to repaying these obligations?
- What are your lifestyle needs after graduation? Think about how much of your projected income will be needed to support your lifestyle.
- After considering your lifestyle needs and current obligations, can you afford to borrow from an alternative loan program?
- Can you make any changes to your lifestyle needs and current obligations to free up additional funds for loan repayment? Think about debt management strategies that might help you better manage your resources.
- Review repayment options. Is loan consolidation a possible solution?
- Federal regulations regarding private education loans effective February 14, 2010 require additional documentation.