If you apply for financial aid, you may be offered loans as part of your school’s financial aid offer. A loan is money you borrow and must pay back with interest. If you decide to take out 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 or from private sources such as a bank or financial institution. Loans made by the federal government, called federal student loans, usually offer borrowers lower interest rates and have more flexible repayment options than loans from banks or other private sources. Learn more about the differences between federal and private student loans.
The U.S. Department of Education has two federal student loan programs:
- The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program is the largest federal student loan program. Under this program, the U.S. Department of Education is your lender. Direct Subsidized Loans are loans made to eligible undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need to help cover the costs of higher education at a college or career school. There are four types of Direct Loans available:
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans are loans made to eligible undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, but in this case, the student does not have to demonstrate financial need to be eligible for the loan.
- 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.
- Direct Consolidation Loans allow you to combine all of your eligible federal student loans into a single loan with a single loan servicer.
- The Federal Perkins Loan Program is a school-based loan program for undergraduates and graduate students with exceptional financial need. Under this program, the school is lender.
University of the Virgin Islands Loan – The UVI loan, with an interest rate of 5%, is available to undergraduate, full-time students. Funds for the University of the Virgin Islands Loan are allocated to the Financial Aid Office by the University. These funds are used to augment the resources of undergraduate resident students with financial need. The recipients must sign a promissory note prior to the disbursement of the loan proceeds. Repayment begins six months after the student graduates or withdraws from the University. Students who have completed a bachelor’s degree are not eligible to receive this loan.
Additional loan resources and video links are available here to guide student borrowers through the federal Direct Loan Process.
Get the FACTS: Financial Awareness Counseling
The new Financial Awareness Counseling module will provide you with the basics of financial management, show your current federal student loan debt (and your other student loan debt if you enter information about your private student loans), and provide you with an estimate of what your student loan debt is likely to be at the time you leave school.The Financial Awareness Counseling will show you how to:
- Understand Your Loans – This section will allow logged-in users to see their existing federal student loan debt based on the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) data. Users can enter additional loans that are not reflected in the NSLDS.
- Manage Your Spending – This section includes an in-school budgeting tool that compares living expenses vs. a user’s current income. The user can export his or her data to an Excel spreadsheet.
- Plan to Repay – This section includes a budgeting tool which compares living expenses vs. estimated income after leaving school and calculates monthly payment amounts for each of the basic repayment plans. This section also includes a tool that allows the user to see the effect of paying extra towards their loans to reduce their overall debt and the amount of interest paid over time.
- Avoid Default – This section provides tips on how to postpone repayment or lower monthly payments, if needed. It also provides information on loan forgiveness or cancellation of student debt. Lastly, this section informs on the pitfalls of loan delinquency and default.
- Make Finances a Priority – This section discusses the development of a financial plan and making financial decisions such as planning for the future, your income and taxes, credit and identity, credit cards and other borrowing options.
- Print a Summary Page – This page gives a summary of the data used and/or entered and can be printed. Be proactive with your student loans and future indebtedness; be an informed consumer. Be proactive with your student loans and future indebtedness; be an informed consumer visit Financial Awareness Counseling.