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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.

Federal student loans come in different categories. UMass Amherst offers two kinds of loans from the federal government - Federal Perkins Loan Program and William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program.

Federal student loans may be subsidized or unsubsidized. With subsidized loans, the U. S. Department of Education pays the interest while you are enrolled in college and you must demonstrate financial need to receive these. With unsubsidized loans, you pay all of the interest, but payments may be deferred until you finish your degree. Unsubsidized loans are awarded regardless of family income or financial need.

Promissory Note and Entrance Interview

To receive a federal loan, you need to sign a Promissory Note and complete an entrance interview form. For loans administered by UMass Amherst, the financial aid office will contact you with procedures for completing both documents. For private/alternative loans, your lender will provide the promissory notes.

Federal Loan Limits

There are limits on the amount that a student may borrow under the Direct Loan Program for one academic year. There are also cumulative limits on the total amount a student may borrow to pursue their education. 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.  

  • Dependent undergraduate students in their freshman year may borrow up to $5,500 (no more than $3,500 may be subsidized),
  • Sophomores up to $6,500 (no more than $4,500 may be subsidized) and
  • Juniors and seniors up to $7,500 (no more than $5,500 may be subsidized).
  • The cumulative limit for an undergraduate education is $31,000. (The subsidized portion may not exceed $23,000.)
  • If you are an independent student or a dependent student whose parent has been denied the PLUS loan you may borrow additional unsubsidized loan up to $4,000 for each of the first two years and $5,000 the remaining years. The cumulative limit for independent undergraduate students and dependent undergraduate students whose parent has been denied a PLUS loan is $57,500. (The subsidized portion may not to exceed $23,000.)

Under the Federal Perkins Loan program, students may borrow up to $5,500 a year. The total amount borrowed for freshman and sophomore years cannot exceed $8,000. The cumulative undergraduate limit is $20,000. The interest rate is fixed at 5% and repayment may extend for up to ten years. No interest is charged and no repayment is required while the student is enrolled at least half time (a minimum of six credits per semester) or during a the nine-month grace period following graduation or withdrawal from school. Information pertaining to repayment, cancelation and deferment is included on the promissory note. Additional information is available on the university's controller's office.

Please note that meeting eligibility requirements does not guarantee loan availability.

Interest Rate

The interest rate for Federal Direct Loans varies depending on the loan type and first disbursement date. Visit Federal Student Aid for more information on the Direct Loan program.

Loan Deferments

If you have begun repaying loans, you may be eligible for a loan deferment when you return to school. Contact your loan servicing center to find out more.

Loan Repayment

Several flexible repayment options are available. Visit Federal Student Aid for more information on the Direct Loan program.

Direct Loan Links

Direct Loan Information: Find out about applying for Direct Loans, learn about the options you have for repayment, use the interactive calculators, download Direct Loan deferment and forbearance forms, and get information about Direct Loan Consolidation.

Direct Loan Master Promissory Note: Complete your William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan promissory note online.

The National Student Loan Data Systems: An online tool to obtain information regarding your student loan history, overpayments, Pell Grant history, and enrollment history.

Alternative Loans

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. Students considering educational private loans should apply only after they have applied for financial aid and received notification from Financial Aid Services. Go to FAFSA on the Web for more information.

Financial Aid Services 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. 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 a parent or student has 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

Select the appropriate link below to see a list of lenders.