There are a variety of scholarships, grants and loans available for our graduate students here at Sofia University.
You may be offered loans as part of your financial aid offer. A loan is money you borrow and must pay back with interest.The U.S. Department of Education offers two types of federal student loan programs however here at Sofia University, we only offer the Federal Direct Loan Program. The federal direct program is the largest federal student loan program and under this program, the U.S. Department of Education is your lender.
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans
Students can borrow up to $20,500 each year in direct unsubsidized loans.
The maximum total debt from subsidized and unsubsidized loans is $138,500 for graduate or professional students— no more than $65,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans. The graduate debt limit includes all federal loans received for undergraduate study. The current interest rates for loans first disbursed between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015 is 6.21%.
Direct unsubsidized loans:
- Available to undergraduate and graduate students
- No requirement to demonstrate financial need
- Your school determines the amount you can borrow by considering the cost of attendance and other financial aid you receive.
- You are responsible for paying the interest during all periods.
- If you choose not to pay the interest while you are in school and during grace periods and deferment or forbearance periods, your interest will accrue (accumulate) and be capitalized (that is, your interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan).
- The remainder of your college costs not covered by other financial aid in Direct PLUS Loans. Note: A credit check is required for a PLUS loan.
*Remember, you can borrow less than your school offers you. You should only borrow what you need.
Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans
Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loans are federal loans that graduate or professional degree students and parents of dependent undergraduate students can use to help pay education expenses. The U.S. Department of Education provides the loans only to borrowers through schools participating in the Direct Loan Program.
Overview of Direct PLUS Loans:
- The U.S. Department of Education is the lender.
- The borrower must not have an adverse credit history.
- Loans have a fixed interest rate of 7.21%.
- The maximum loan amount is the student’s cost of attendance (determined by the school) minus any other financial aid received.
Most federal student loans have loan fees that are deducted proportionately from each loan disbursement you receive. This means the money you receive will be less than the amount you actually borrow. You’re responsible for repaying the entire amount you borrowed and not just the amount you received. Current loan fees for federal student loans: 1.072% for Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans; 4.288% for Direct PLUS Loans.
Frequently Asked Questions about Loans
How can I apply for a Direct Graduate PLUS (GRAD PLUS) Loan and complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN)?
*You must follow both steps!
STEP 1 – Log into https://studentloans.gov Sign in and click on “Request a PLUS loan”, select the type of loan “Graduate PLUS Loan” and follow the instructions.
STEP 2 – Log into https://studentloans.gov Sign in and click on “Complete Master Promissory Note”, select the type of loan “Graduate Plus Loan” and follow the instructions Note: GRAD PLUS LOAN approval is based on credit history.
Can I still receive a Direct PLUS Loan if I have an adverse credit history?
A credit check will be performed during the application process. If you have an adverse credit history, you may still receive a Direct PLUS Loan by obtaining an endorser who does not have an adverse credit history or documenting to the U.S. Department of Education’s satisfaction extenuating circumstances relating to your adverse credit history.
Why should I take out federal student loans?
Federal student loans are an investment in your future. You should not be afraid to take out federal student loans, but you should be smart about it.
Federal student loans offer many benefits including:
The interest rate on federal student loans is almost always lower than that on private loans—and much lower than that on a credit card.
- You don’t need a credit check or a cosigner to get most federal student loans.
- You don’t have to begin repaying your federal student loans until after you leave college or drop below half-time.
- Federal student loans offer flexible repayment plans and options to postpone your loan payments if you’re having trouble making payments.
- If you work in certain jobs, you may be eligible to have a portion of your federal student loans forgiven if you meet certain conditions.
What should I consider when taking out federal student loans?
- Before you take out a loan, it’s important to understand that a loan is a legal obligation that you will be responsible for repaying with interest. You may not have to begin repaying your federal student loans right away, but you don’t have to wait to understand your responsibilities as a borrower. Be a responsible borrower.
- Keep track of how much you’re borrowing. Think about how the amount of your loans will affect your future finances, and how much you can afford to repay. Your student loan payments should be only a small percentage of your salary after you graduate, so it’s important not to borrow more than you need for your school-related expenses.
- Understand the terms of your loan and keep copies of your loan documents. When you sign your promissory note, you are agreeing to repay the loan according to the terms of the note even if you don’t complete your education, can’t get a job after you complete the program, or you didn’t like the education you received.
- Make payments on time. You are required to make payments on time even if you don’t receive a bill, repayment notice, or a reminder. You must pay the full amount required by your repayment plan, as partial payments do not fulfill your obligation to repay your student loan on time.
- Keep in touch with your loan servicer. Notify your loan servicer when you graduate; withdraw from school; drop below half-time status; transfer to another school; or change your name, address, or social security number. You also should contact your servicer if you’re having trouble making your scheduled loan payments. Your servicer has several options available to help you keep your loan in good standing.
Federal Work-Study Program
The Federal Work-Study Program provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay for their education expenses. This program is a need-based federally funded financial aid program offered to eligible U.S. citizens and permanent residents of the U.S.
Federal Work-Study Program award students can reasonably expect to earn $5,000 to $10,000 per year through work study funding and the FWS hourly wage range during the 2013-2014 academic year is $8 to $15. Students must have applied for financial aid and have been awarded FWS funds as part of their financial aid award package to be eligible for a FWS position. FWS employers pay a percentage of a student’s wages; the federal government pays the remainder.
There are numerous opportunities for FWS positions both at the university and off campus. Students frequently work in jobs connected with their research or career goals – and will seek those positions once they’ve arrived on campus. The Federal Work-Study Program award funds on a first come, first served basis.
Students may work no more than two jobs, provided their total earnings through work study do not exceed the amount of their total FWS award. The award amount acts as the maximum gross amount the student may earn at their particular position. Students are required to monitor their earnings to be sure they do not exceed their ceilings.
For information related to the Federal Work-Study Program, visit the U.S. Department of Education website.
There are a variety of other resources available for financial aid which includes the possibility of seeking assistance from community organizations and employers as well as loans from private lenders.
Religious, Social and Professional Organizations
Many religious organizations (church, synagogue, mosque, etc.), community organizations (Rotary Club, Elks, Moose, etc.) and professional organizations often provide student assistance programs in the forms of grants or scholarships. If you are a member of a group or organization, ask if they offer any student assistance programs and, if so, ask them what the award criteria are.
Some companies offer tuition reimbursement for their employees. Consult your Human Resources or Benefits Office to see what programs might be available to you.
Sofia University maintains a portfolio of alternate lending programs. These programs are offered through private lenders to students. Generally, the terms of these loans are not as favorable as the Direct Stafford Loan programs. Contact the Sofia University Financial Aid Office for information about the availability of alternate lenders. Participation in an alternate loan program requires additional financial counseling. Alternate loan applications will not be processed without this debt counseling.
Questions? Contact the financial aid office at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (650) 493-4430, ext. 712.