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Graduate students may apply for two different types of federal loans. In addition, there are a variety of banks and private lenders who offer alternative loans for financing education costs for graduate students.
The U.S. Department of Education administers the Federal Direct Loan Program more commonly known as the Stafford loan program. To be eligible a student must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree program. This loan has a six-month grace period after graduation or after the student drops below half-time status. The repayment period on average is ten years. Loan amounts are divided and disbursed per semester. The aggregate Graduate student limit (total amount a student can borrow while a graduate student) for a student is capped at $138,500 (includes all federal loans received for undergraduate study). The interest rate for Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan disbursed prior to July 1, 2014 is 5.41% fixed for the life of the loan. The fixed interest rate for a Federal Unsubsidized Loan disbursed after July 1, 2014 is 6.21%. Interest WILL accrue on the loan while the student is in-school, and during grace and deferment periods. Borrowers can choose to make interest payments by checking off the appropriate box on the Master Promissory Note: You may choose to capitalize the interest (add interest charges to the amount owed) but this will significantly increase the total amount of your debt burden at repayment. See loan limits below. Students must file a FAFSA and the Wheelock College Application for Graduate Financial Aid to be eligible for a Stafford loan.
Every Federal Stafford Loan has an origination fee, set by the U.S. Department of Education, subtracted from the amount borrowed. Loan fees vary based on the date of disbursement:
- First Disbursed on or after December 1, 2013 and before October 1, 2014: Fees are 1.072%, and they are subtracted from amount borrowed, for example a $10,250 loan will credit as $10,140 to the student's account ($10,250 - 1.072% = $10,140).
- First Disbursed on or after October 1, 2014 and before October 1,2015: Fees are 1.073%, and they are subtacted from amount borrowed, for example a $10,250 loan will credit as $10,140 to the student's account ($10,250 - 1.073% = $10,140).
The annual loan limit for graduate students remains unchanged at $20,500, but this amount is limited to Direct Unsubsidized Loans.
The Department of Education sets annual and aggregate (i.e. lifetime) limits on the amount of debt a student can obtain from the federal government. The chart below summarizes the current limits for the Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan.
Maximum lifetime Stafford borrowing
$138,500-No more than $65,500 of this amount may be in Subsidized* loan.
Instructions to Complete Your Federal Stafford Loan Online
Students who borrow a Federal Stafford loan for the first time at Wheelock College must complete mandatory Entrance Loan Counseling and a Master Promissory Note (MPN) before receiving the first disbursement of any loan proceeds. Please see below for the instructions. If you do not complete this process, it is assumed that you will not plan to borrow with this loan and it will be canceled.
- Entrance Loan Counseling: go to http://studentloans.gov. Click on the green "Sign In" button. Once you have signed in, click on the link to "Complete Entrance Counseling", and proceed to follow the instructions. *** Please note that your FAFSA PIN number is required. If you do not have a PIN, you can go to www.pin.ed.gov.
- Master Promissory Note (MPN): go to http://studentloans.gov. Click on the green "Sign In" button. Once you have signed in, click on the link to "Complete Master Promissory Note." Then click on "Subsidized/Unsubsidized" and proceed to follow the instructions. *** Please note that your FAFSA PIN number is required. If you do not have a PIN, you can go to www.pin.ed.gov.
Federal Graduate and Professional Student PLUS loan
The Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan is a fixed interest rate, federally guaranteed credit-based loan program that enables graduate students to borrow directly from the U.S. Department of Education to help pay for their educational expenses. Student must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and must be making satisfactory academic progress towards a degree. Eligibility is based on credit worthiness. The interest rate on a PLUS Loan disbursed prior to July 1, 2014 is fixed at 6.41%. The interest rate on a PLUS Loan disbursed after July 1, 2014 is fixed at 7.21%. This rate is determined by the federal government.
Every Federal PLUS Loan has an origination fee, set by the U.S. Department of Education, subtracted from the amount borrowed. Loan fees vary based on the date of disbursement:
- First Disbursed on or after December 1, 2013 and before October 1, 2014: Fees are 4.288%, and they are subtracted from the amount borrowed, for example a $10,000 loan will credit as $9,571 to the student's account ($10,000 - 4.288% = $9,571).
- First Disbursed on or after October 1, 2014 and before October 1, 2015: Fees are 4.292% and they are subtracted from the amount borrowed, for example a $10,000 loan will credit as $9,571 to the student's account ($10,000 - 4.292% = $9,571).
How to Apply:
To apply online please go to studentloans.gov. Click on the green "Sign In" button. Once you have signed in, click on the "Request a Direct PLUS Loan". Scroll to the bottom of the page that comes up, then click on "Graduate PLUS".
When considering a PLUS loan, keep the following points in mind:
- Student must be credit worthy, as determined by the absence of adverse credit on credit history, approval is not based on income or debt-to-income ratio as with many other loans. Students unable to meet the PLUS Loan credit criteria may be able to borrow with a creditworthy "endorser". The endorser cannot be released from the repayment obligation before the loan is repaid in full.
- Applicants may borrow up to the cost of attendance (this includes tuition, room and board, books, and other miscellaneous fees) less other financial aid.
- Most PLUS loans are made to cover fall and spring semester costs. The loan funds are disbursed (minus fees) in two equal payments, 1/2 for the fall semester and 1/2 for the spring semester.
- The standard repayment term is 10 years.
- Repayment begins 60 days after the loan is fully disbursed, but may be deferred while the student is enrolled at least half-time. During the deferment period interest can be paid monthly, quarterly, or capitalized quarterly.
- If a PLUS is borrowed and the borrower is subsequently totally, permanently disabled, or deceased, the loan is forgiven.
- A PLUS Loan can also provide tax savings and incentives.
Get more information: http://studentaid.ed.gov
Please review our Alternative Student Loan options chart [pdf] for more information and details about how to apply.
There are a variety of banks and private lenders who offer alternative loans for financing education costs for graduate students. Wheelock has a formal process to review the alternative student loan offerings of most of the major lenders. Based on this review, we have chosen for our chart the lenders who offer borrower benefits, reliability, electronic delivery of loan proceeds, as well as superior customer service. Be assured that Wheelock receives no benefits, financial or otherwise, from the lenders on our preferred lender list.
Lenders offer private loan programs with different rates, fees, repayment terms, and approval requirements. We suggest that you carefully review each program to compare the terms and conditions before deciding which alternative loan may be appropriate for your needs. The lenders listed are those most utilized at Wheelock. Links are provided to the various lender websites. The application process is completed directly through the lender websites linked below.
You are under no obligation to borrow from one of these lenders. If you would like to borrow from a lender that is not on this list, you can simply select the lender of your choice and apply directly with that lender. You and the lender will be responsible for getting your loan information including a certification request and the loan funds to us.
Federal and State Regulations require borrowers of Federal Stafford loans, Federal Graduate PLUS loans, and Federal TEACH grants who are no longer enrolled at least half-time to complete federally mandated exit counseling as soon as they cease enrollment. This is a federal regulation and applies to all students who have graduated, officially withdrawn, dropped below half-time enrollment, transferred to another institution, or simply ceased enrollment at Wheelock College. While you may have been required to complete exit counseling in the past, but federal regulations require that you complete exit counseling every time you meet one of the above conditions. The purpose of this counseling is to help you to understand your rights and obligations as a student loan borrower.
The Student Accounting office sends out notifications by email and by mail to describe the exit counseling requirements and procedures to graduating seniors, and students moving on to graduate school, leaving the College, and students who drop below half-time enrollment. Student borrowers must complete exit counseling to obtain an official transcript, participate in commencement or to obtain your diploma from the Wheelock College Registrar's office. The Financial Aid Office receives results of exit counseling weekly. Official transcripts may be released only after results are received.
Exit counseling takes approximately 30-40 minutes to complete. You will need your Federal PIN to log in. If you have lost or forgotten your PIN, you may apply for another at www.pin.ed.gov .
Once on the Stafford and PLUS Loan Exit Counseling website click the green "Sign IN" button using your FAFSA PIN, then select "Complete Counseling," then click on the "Start" button under the Exit counseling section. Please note you MUST complete the entire session. You cannot save your session and return to it later.
If you have received a Federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant, FedLoan Servicing is the loan servicer for the TEACH grant program. Loan Exit Counseling is performed on the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) website. Exit counseling is required because as a condition for receiving a TEACH Grant, a student must agree to teach full-time for at least four years as a highly-qualified teacher in a high-need field, in a school or educational service agency (ESA) serving low-income students within eight years of completing or otherwise ceasing to be enrolled in the program of study for which the student received the grant. If you do not meet the terms of your TEACH Grant service obligation, all TEACH Grant funds that you received will be converted to a Direct Unsubsidized Loan that you must repay in full, with interest charged from the date of each TEACH Grant disbursement. Students who do not comply with this requirement will not be eligible to participate in Commencement, obtain their diploma, or receive a transcript until the exit interview has been completed.
Federal TEACH grant Exit Counseling takes approximately 20 minutes to complete. See the TEACH Exit Counseling Guide for more information.
Once on the wTEACH Grant Exit counseling website select the link for "Exit Counseling," and click the "Continue" button at the bottom of the page, and then login to your account with your social security number and date of birth. You must complete the entire session.
Contact Information: Federal Student Aid information center at 1-800-4-fed-aid. FedLoan Servicing website http://www.myfedloan.org/teach-grants/index.shtml?ref=mURL.