A loan is a form of financial aid that you must repay with interest, usually after you graduate or leave school. To be considered for federal student loans, you need to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and you must meet all eligibility criteria required for receipt of federal assistance.
William D. Ford Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan is available to eligible students, regardless of family income or financial need. However, to receive this loan, you must:
- Successfully complete a FAFSA or renewal FAFSA.
- Be enrolled in at least six credits in a degree granting program (If you are a program fee student you may be eligible for a Direct Unsubsidized Loan if your credit hours of enrollment and research work on your degree requirements can be classified as equivalent to at least half time. The Graduate Registrar will certify your enrollment status upon notification from your graduate program director. Since there are no tuition charges for program fee students, loan funds may be used for indirect educational expenses and to pay for the program fee charge).
- Complete a Direct Loan Entrance Counseling Form and Master Promissory Note if this is your first time borrowing a federal loan within ten years. Financial Aid Services will post these items on your To Do list on SPIRE.
Not have exceeded your lifetime aggregate direct loan limits. Financial Aid Services uses the National Student Loan Database Service (NSLDS) to determine your total loan aggregates. Refer to your Student Aid Report (SAR) for your loan aggregates, it is important for you to monitor your loan aggregates to ensure you do not borrow beyond your eligibility. The lifetime limit for graduate students is:
- $138,500 (this includes loans borrowed as an undergraduate student and will include subsidized loans)
The annual limit for graduate students is $20,500 - When awarding the Direct Unsubsidized Loan it is assumed you may receive a Graduate Appointment. If you do not receive an Appointment, please let the Financial Aid Office know, as this may increase your loan eligibility.
The interest rate is fixed at 5.31%. Interest payments for Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loans begin the day the loan is disbursed and can be paid monthly, quarterly, or capitalized (adding the interest to the loan principal).
Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan
The Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan program enables credit worthy graduate students to borrow directly from the federal government to help pay for their educational expenses. You may borrow up to the cost of attendance minus financial aid. The interest rate is fixed and is set each year on July 1, but will never exceed 9%. PLUS Loans are disbursed directly to the student's UMass Amherst account, generally in two installments. The program charges interest on the loan from the date the first disbursement is made until the loan is paid in full. To apply for a Graduate PLUS Loan you must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and submit a complete Graduate PLUS Loan Pre-Application and Entrance Counseling Form available on the Forms website to Financial Aid Services.
Borrowers of Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans begin repayment 60 days after the second disbursement. However, your loan will be placed into deferment while enrolled at least half-time and for an additional six months after ceasing half-time enrollment. If the loan is deferred, interest will accrue on the loan during deferment. You may choose to pay the accrued interest or allow the interest to capitalized when the deferment period ends. A choice of repayment options allows you to repay the loan in a way that best suits your financial circumstances. Applications and detailed information on repayment options are available at Financial Aid Services.
First: Have you filed a FAFSA?
Before considering private loan options, you should apply for federal, state and institutional financial aid, including federal student loans. If you are considering educational private loans, you should apply only after you have applied for financial aid and received notification from the Financial Aid Office. Go to FAFSA on the Web for more information.
Financial Aid Services at the University of Massachusetts Amherst strongly recommends that you fully research the alternative loan program and lender that best suits your financing needs. Please compare the benefits and costs of several alternative loan programs before you apply. To get the best interest rate and terms apply with a credit-worthy cosigner. To find out how to apply for an alternative loan visit the lender's website.
Below are links to alternative educational loans for 2016-2017. The lenders included on each list responded to a public request for proposal (RFP) distributed by UMass Amherst Procurement Office. The proposals were evaluated and lenders selected based on the benefits the loan products offer to borrowers, including interest rates and fees, repayment benefits and terms, ability to apply, sign, certify and disburse electronically, quality of customer service to borrowers, problem resolution, loan management tools and availability of consumer information and web based service features. This is not a comprehensive list of all the educational loans available. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement or recommendation by the University of Massachusetts Amherst. If you have worked with a lender not listed below, and has received excellent benefits and quality service from this lender, you may continue to do business with that lender. Financial Aid Services will process alternative loans for any lender selected by the student.
For your convenience, we have provided telephone numbers and links to websites maintained by these lenders. UMass Amherst is not responsible for the availability, content, or accuracy of materials on third party websites. Please carefully read final loan agreements or promissory notes and understand their payment terms and other obligations.
Lender Selection Criteria
The lenders were selected from responses to a public Request for Proposals (RFP) for private/alternative loans published by the University of Massachusetts Amherst Procurement Office. View the RFP and evaluation criteria.
Alternative Loan Options Available
Click here for information related to credit based alternative loan options available to undergraduate students, graduate students, parents of undergraduate students, international students, continuing and professional education students and non-degree students.