The US Government provides students access to federal student loans
students borrowing from the Federal Direct Loan Program are required to sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and complete online Entrance Counseling
for their Direct Loan. Federal loan funds will not be credited to the PSU bill until these items are completed.
The Federal Direct loan(s) awarded to you may be subsidized and/or unsubsidized, as described below:
A SUBSIDIZED Federal Direct loan is awarded on the basis of financial need. Interest will begin accruing at the end of your grace period. Your grace period is 6 months after you graduate, withdraw from school, or are no longer enrolled at least half-time.
An UNSUBSIDIZED Federal Direct loan is a non-need based loan. You will be charged interest from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full. If you allow the interest to accrue (accumulate) while you’re in school, or during other periods of non-payment, it will be capitalized. This means the interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan at the time of repayment.
All Federal Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized loans disbursed have a fee charged. For information on current interest rates and fees, please visit studentaid.gov.
Please note the following eligibility requirements must be met in order to be awarded Federal Direct Loans:
(1) Students must be matriculated (enrolled in a degree-seeking program) and enrolled at least half-time (6 credits or more per semester).
(2) Students cannot be in default on any Federal Loans.
(3) Federal Direct annual and aggregate loan limits apply.
- Dependent undergraduate students are eligible for up to $31,000 (no more than $23,000 of which may be subsidized).
- Independent undergraduate students and dependent students whose parents are ineligible for a Federal PLUS Loan are eligible for up to $57,500 (no more than $23,000 of which may be subsidized).
- Graduate Students are eligible for a maximum aggregate loan limit of $138,500. The graduate debt limit ALSO includes federal student loans received for undergraduate study.
(4) Students are awarded yearly federal loan limits based upon number of credits earned as outlined below:
Number of Credits
Annual Eligibility Subsidized/Unsubsidized
0 – 29
30 – 59
The Federal Direct PLUS loan is an optional federal loan for parent(s) who wish to access additional resources beyond what a student is eligible to receive.
- The PLUS loan is solely in the name of a Parent(s), not the student, and is not transferable.
- Approval or denial for the PLUS loan is based on the parents’ credit history.
- There is an origination fee applied to the amount requested for a PLUS loan, this impacts the actual amount paid on the student’s bill. Fees and rates are fixed for an individual loan, however, they can change each academic year based on federal mandate. For the most current origination fee and interest rate on the PLUS loan please visit studentaid.gov.
- Only a parent can apply for a PLUS loan.
- A parent is defined as the student’s biological or adoptive mother or father, regardless of whether they are the “custodial” parent on the FAFSA.
- A step-parent is eligible to borrow a PLUS loan IF he or she is reported on the FAFSA along with the custodial parent.
- A legal guardian is not considered a parent for federal student aid purposes.
- More than one parent can apply for a PLUS loan for a dependent student as long as the total financial aid package does not exceed the Cost of Attendance.
- The maximum amount that a parent can borrow in the PLUS loan is the Cost of Attendance minus any financial aid received by the student.
- If your student intends to either reduce or decline the Federal Work Study award to increase the parent’s eligibility for the Federal Direct PLUS Loan, please submit a request at least a day prior to applying for the loan.
How to Apply for the Federal Direct PLUS Loan
- In order to receive a PLUS loan, the student must have completed a FAFSA which can be done at fafsa.gov.
- If the parent(s) does not already have an FSA ID or have lost this information, please visit the Federal Student Aid ID website.
- The parent applying logs in to studentaid.gov with their FSA ID and Password.
- Select the tab for “Apply for Aid.”
- Select the option for “Apply for a Parent PLUS Loan.”
- Read and complete all the steps required for this application.
Please note: As part of the application, you will be required to choose the time period for which you are applying. Please use the following dates:
Full Year: September through May
Summer: May through August
Fall: September through December
Spring: February through May
Winter/Spring: January through May
Parent PLUS loan applications for the 2022-2023 academic year are currently available at studentaid.gov
Parent PLUS loan applications for the 2023-2024 academic year will not be open until May 2023.
What Happens After the Parent Applies
- The parent will receive an immediate credit decision (approved or denied) as soon as the application is completed.
- Student Financial Services will receive notification of the PLUS application decision within 2 to 4 business days.
- If APPROVED – the maximum allowed will be added to the student’s financial aid.
- If DENIED:
- PSU will automatically increase the student’s Unsubsidized Federal Direct loan eligibility as allowed within the cost of attendance. Students who have earned up to 60 credits may be eligible for up to $4,000 additionally on an annual basis. Students who have earned 61 credits or more may be eligible for up to $5,000 additionally on an annual basis.
- If the PLUS is subsequently approved through the appeal process, or by adding an endorser, the additional unsubsidized loan given to the student will be adjusted accordingly.
- The parent will be given the option at the end of the PLUS application to add an Endorser to their loan to try for approval. The steps required for this will be listed if they select this option.
- The parent will be given the option at the end of the PLUS application to appeal the decision based on extenuating circumstances. The steps required for this process will be listed if they select this option.
After exhausting available federal and family resources, some students may need to apply for an alternative student loan to pay for educational expenses. Alternative loans are loans through a private lending institution and terms and conditions for each lender may vary widely.
Some things to consider when applying for an Alternative Loan
- Alternative loans are loans through a private lending institution and do not necessarily have benefits similar to federal government programs, such as the option to tie your monthly repayment to your income. More information on the difference between private and federal aid can be found on the StudentAid.gov website.
- Some alternative loans require families to immediately begin repayment of interest which accrues on each loan while the student is attending college.
- The interest rates on alternative loans can be either variable or fixed, while federal loans have only fixed interest rates.
- Be sure you have applied for all available scholarships, grants, work study and federal loan programs offered (by completing the FAFSA) before borrowing from an alternative loan program.
- Alternative loans are in the student’s name and a ‘good’ cosigner is often required. What makes a good cosigner? Steady employment with enough income to meet debt obligations, able to meet credit obligations, credit is not overextended, no serious negative items on credit history.
- Once a complete application has been received, the lender will perform a credit check and will let you know if your application has been approved.
- Eligibility for alternative loans is based on the Cost of Attendance minus other financial aid received.
- If you intend to either reduce or decline your Federal Work Study in order to have a higher Alternative or Federal Direct PLUS loan, please do that at least one day prior to applying for the loan by emailing Student Financial Services. Alternative loan amounts and terms can no longer be changed once the school has certified the loan.
- Federal regulations now require additional steps to be taken during the loan application process. Students must now acknowledge three separate disclosure notices with their lender and complete a student self-certification form with information that can be obtained from their Financial Aid as listed on their myPlymouth account.
- Due to these new requirements, the time required to process your loan will be extended.
Recommendations to assist you with applying for an Alternative Loan
- Start the application process early, but not too early. Since Alternative Loans must be disbursed within 90 – 120 days from the date the lender runs a credit check, it is recommended that loans for Fall only not be applied for prior to June and that loans for Spring only not be applied for prior to October.
- Confirm that you are applying for the correct time period. Typically, you will want to apply only once a year for the amount you will need for both terms.
- If you do want to apply for each term separately, Fall only loans should have a loan period of September through December; Spring only loans should have a loan period of January through May. Any loan with a loan period of September through May will be split equally between the fall and spring terms.
- Complete and return requests from your lender in a timely manner
- Check the status of your loan with your lender frequently
Important Questions to Ask When Applying for an Alternative Loan
- Is a co-signer required? If so, under what circumstance?
- Would the interest rate and/or fees be reduced if I applied with a co-signer?
- Is there an option to release the co-signer at a later date (i.e. after a specific number of on-time payments)?
- What is the initial interest rate?
- Is the interest rate fixed or adjustable? If adjustable, how often does the interest rate adjust (some lenders adjust the interest rates each month, some are quarterly, etc.)?
- Is there a cap on the interest rate (maximum rate that may be charged)?
- Is there an origination fee associated with this loan and if so how much is it?
(An origination fee is the amount the lender subtracts from each of your loan disbursements. It is usually calculated based upon a percentage of the amount you borrow)
- Is there a repayment fee associated with this loan and if so how much is it?
(A repayment fee is an amount added to your total loan before your repayment period begins)
- What additional fees may be incurred during the life of the loan?
- Are any of these fees based on credit rating or existence of a co-signer?
- What, if any, interest rate reduction, or other incentives may be offered during the life of the loan?
- How will the interest on my loan accrue while I am in school? Will it be capitalized? If so, how often?
(Capitalization is when the interest accrued is added to the amount you borrowed. The frequency at which this occurs is very important when determining how much you will repay. Capitalizing interest once prior to repayment is much better financially for you than capitalizing interest on a monthly basis. Either way, we recommend paying the interest as it accrues while you are in school)
- What is the interest based upon? Is it a percentage added to LIBOR, T-Bill, or Prime Rate?
- Is the loan application online or is it paper?
- How does my co-signer complete their section of the application?
- Can I sign the application electronically, or do I need to print, sign and mail the application to the lender?
- How will my school be notified I have been approved?
- How long does it take for the school to be notified?
- Will my loan be sold? If sold, will I lose my borrower repayment benefits?
- How long do I have after I graduate or leave school before I am required to start making monthly payments on this loan?
- What is the length of time I will be given to repay this loan?
- What is considered an on-time payment? Some lenders consider payments late if received one day past the due date, others may allow up to 15 days before considering payments late. Note: If payments are not timely, repayment benefits might be lost.
Private Alternative Loan Lender List
This is a comprehensive, three-year list of lenders used by our undergraduate families. Your family’s needs are unique and no lender is perfect for every family. Shop around to find the best loan to meet your needs.
Please note: The list is NOT ranked in any way. We do not have preferred arrangements with any of the lenders listed below. Student Financial Services receives no benefit for listing these lenders. We cannot legally recommend a lender to you and under federal law, you have the right to borrow through the lender of your choice regardless whether they appear on this list.
Don’t see the lender you want to use? Not a problem. This list is a starting point and is not meant to be all inclusive. Some loans have citizenship, residency, or membership requirements.
(Last updated June 2022)
Loans with State Residency Requirements
Many states offer their residents very attractive student loan options to finance any remaining gaps after federal eligibility has been exhausted. If you are a resident of one of the following states, please click on the link corresponding to your state of residency for more information about these programs:
A Continuing Education Loan
(if needed) may be borrowed if a student is not matriculated (that is, admitted into a degree program) or is not eligible for Federal loan programs. These loans should only be applied for as a last resort.
For non-degree graduate students (any term), Continuing Education undergraduate students, and matriculated undergraduate students attending Early Spring or Summer terms, payment for classes is due at the time of registration. We strongly recommend that you apply early for your loan to ensure that it’s in place by the billing or registration due dates.
Please note: PSU does not enter into Consortium Agreements with other institutions for purposes of accessing federal financial aid programs
Although the lending institution of choice is completely up to you, we strongly recommend that you consider the following when making your decision:
- Continuing Education loans are private loans through a lending institution and not part of federally funded programs.
- Continuing Education loans are more expensive than federal student loans and should only be used when all other options have been exhausted.
- Be sure you have applied for all available assistance before pursuing a Continuing Education Loan.
- Continuing Education loans are in the student’s name, and a cosigner may be required. Once a complete application has been received, the lender will perform a credit check and will let you know if your application has been approved.
Please contact the following for more information on Continuing Education Loans:
Sallie Mae Smart Option Loan
http://www.salliemae.com or 877-279-7172
http://edvestinu.com/private.asp or 1-603-227-5423
Studentaid.gov and Loan Repayment
Studentaid.gov regularly receives data from schools, guaranty agencies, the Direct Loan program, and other Department of Education programs to provide a centralized, integrated view of all Title IV loans and grants you may have received as a student. You may access all of your current and prior Federal grant and loan information via this website. Parents may access Studentaid.gov for information on the Federal Direct PLUS loans.
Please note: Information on a pending loan will not be available until approximately 2 weeks after the loan has disbursed to the school.
There are currently several different servicing agencies that your Federal loans may be serviced through. To verify who is currently servicing your loans, log on to studentaid.gov with the same FSA ID that was used on your FAFSA. Once logged in you should have several options to the right of your Dashboard:
- Upcoming Payments: When you have entered repayment (at the time you have graduated, withdrawn, taken a leave of absence, or enrolled less than half-time), you may review the amount and date due for your next payment.
- My Loan Servicer: This link will provide contact information for the company that services your Federal Loan(s) so that you may reach out to them with any questions you have about your loan(s) or repayment.
- Quick Links: This provides you with easy access to frequently needed federal aid information. Exit Counseling is required for all students who utilized Federal student loans but are no longer enrolled in school. The Loan Simulator can assist with information regarding repayment options.
- My Info: By choosing the “My Aid” option, you can view all federal aid received while attending school as well as additional information about your aggregate loan limits, etc.