A Federal Direct Student Loan is a government-issued loan, with beneficial terms, offered to eligible students in accredited American institutions of higher education. Direct Loans are available to undergraduate students as Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans.
If you qualify for a Direct Subsidized Loan, the federal government (U.S. taxpayers) will pay the interest while you remain in school at least half-time pursuing a degree. Subsidized loan eligibility is based on financial need as determined by the federal need analysis. (Thomas Aquinas College uses a different need analysis to determine your eligibility for institutional aid.) If you are not eligible for a Direct Subsidized Loan, you may always apply for a Direct Unsubsidized Loan. With an unsubsidized loan, interest begins to accrue while you are in school. Interest on an unsubsidized loan may be paid quarterly, or accrued until the borrower enters repayment. It is possible to receive both a Direct Subsidized Loan and a Direct Unsubsidized Loan for the same period. The total of your combined Direct Loans may not exceed the annual loan limits for your grade level.
|Maximum Annual Direct Loan Limits and
Thomas Aquinas College’s Loan Expectations
2016-2017 Academic Year
|Total Subsidized and Unsubsidized
|freshmen||$5,500 total, with up to $3,500 subsidized||$3,250|
|sophomores||$6,500 total, with up to $4,500 subsidized||$4,250|
|juniors||$7,500 total, with up to $5,500 subsidized||$5,250|
|seniors||$7,500 total, with up to $5,500 subsidized||$5,250|
Advantages of the federal Direct Loan Program
- Repayment is not required until six months after you leave school or drop below half-time status.
- The interest rate is determined each June for new loans borrowed for the upcoming school year. Each loan has a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan. For example, Direct Loans borrowed in 2016-17 have a fixed interest rate of 3.76 percent for Direct Subsidized Loans (when they enter repayment) and a fixed interest rate of 3.76 percent for Direct Unsubsidized Loans (from the date of disbursement).
- Prepayment may be made at any time without penalty.
- Payments may be deferred, extended, or reduced in cases of economic hardship.
Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans have an origination fee of 1.068 percent that is retained by the lender to offset the cost of insuring the loan.
Disbursements are usually made in two installments, one each semester. The College will notify you when funds are received and deposited into your college account.
Repaying Your Loan
Students are required to begin repaying their Direct Loan six months after they graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time attendance. Borrowers generally have 10 years to repay these loans. Under a level repayment plan, the monthly payment on $18,000 in Direct Loans with an interest rate of 3.76 percent would be $181. (See additional information about the Direct Loan Program.)
All first-time Direct Loan borrowers will need to complete the following three steps to apply for a Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loan.
Important: To complete the first two steps, you will need your FSA ID (the same FSA ID used to complete your FAFSA). If you don't know whether you have an FSA ID, you can easily check at http://fsaid.ed.gov.
Step One: Complete Online the Direct Loan Entrance Counseling
- If this is the first time that you are applying for a Direct Loan at Thomas Aquinas College, you are required to complete Loan Entrance Counseling online. (If you had a Direct Loan in a prior year at Thomas Aquinas College you have already completed the Loan Entrance Counseling.)
- Go to the Direct Loan website, sign in using your FSA ID, then click on “Complete Counseling,” then click on “Start Entrance Counseling.” Complete the session.
Step Two: Complete a Federal Direct Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN) Online
Additional information you will need to complete your Federal Direct Loan MPN includes:
- Your driver's license number (if you have one) and
- The full name, address, and telephone number of two personal references who have known you for at least three years. The first reference should be a parent or legal guardian. The other two references must have different U.S. addresses.
Go to the Direct Loan website, sign in using your FSA ID, then click on “Complete a Master Promissory Note,” then click on “Complete Subsidized/Unsubsidized MPN.” Fill in and submit the necessary information. (If you had a Direct Loan in the prior year at Thomas Aquinas College you have already completed the MPN. You do not have to complete another.)
Steps One and Two should take approximately 30 minutes each. Allow time to complete each step in a single session. If you decide to exit the website before completing a step, you will be required to begin that step again.
After each step is completed, the Financial Aid Office at Thomas Aquinas College will receive an electronic notification.
Step Three: Accept your Direct Loan
- Review the Payment Plan and Promissory Note (PPPN) you received from Thomas Aquinas College. Sign and complete the back of the PPPN with your parents and return the PP&PN to the Financial Aid Office to accept the dollar amount of the Direct Loan(s) reported there.
- If you wish to increase the amount of your Direct Loan(s) to finance a portion of your student payment, your parent payment, or to pay for other education-related expenses, contact the Financial Aid Office. A revised PPPN will be sent to you with the increased loan amount.
- To protect you, federal regulations require the school to process the total amount of your Direct Subsidized Loan before processing any unsubsidized amount.
After all three steps are completed, the Financial Aid Office will be able to process your federal Direct Loan(s).
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– Isabella Hsu (’18)
Redondo Beach, California
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– The Most Rev. José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles