Loans

Federal and private loans are used to supplement personal and family resources, scholarships, grants and work-study. Loans accrue interest and must be repaid.

To be considered for any federal loan at Virginia Commonwealth University, students must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and have the results sent to the VCU Office of Financial Aid. Information provided on the FAFSA must be complete and accurate. Failure to resolve any problems with the processing of the application, or delays in resolving the problems, may preclude the student from being considered for these loans.

If a student uses loans to pay for university charges and then reduces expected credit hours during the drop period, any refund due from this reduction in charges may go to repay the loans. If a student withdraws from all classes or drops below half time, any refund may also go to repay the loans.

Loans are not automatically renewed. Borrowers must apply annually and continue to meet eligibility requirements, including satisfactory academic progress.

Federal direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans are undergraduate and graduate loans funded by the federal government.

Federal direct subsidized loans are based on financial need. The federal government pays the interest during in-school, grace and deferment periods.

Federal direct unsubsidized loans are not based on financial need, and the federal government does not pay the interest for these loans. Students may choose to defer interest payments until repayment begins; however, the student is responsible for all interest that accrues. The accrued interest automatically capitalizes to the loan principal.

To be considered for an award, the student must:

  • Be enrolled at least half time (six or more credit hours each semester for undergraduates, five or more credit hours each semester for graduates)
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • Demonstrate financial need (subsidized loans only)
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress
  • Not owe a refund on a federal student grant or be in default on a federal student loan

Entrance and exit counseling

The federal government requires students to participate in entrance counseling prior to receiving a federal direct loan for the first time. This must be satisfied prior to loan disbursement.

Students receiving federal loans must also complete an exit counseling session once they graduate or drop below half-time enrollment. Failure to complete exit counseling will prevent students from receiving a diploma, obtaining transcripts or registering for classes in future terms.

Master promissory note

In order to receive your federal direct loan funds, you must complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN).

Current regulations allow students to sign one promissory note that will be used for all subsidized and unsubsidized loans borrowed for up to 10 years. Therefore, returning students who received federal direct subsidized or unsubsidized loans at VCU beginning with the 2006-07 academic year may not be required to sign another loan promissory note.

Award amounts

Award amounts are initially offered based on full-year, full-time enrollment and are prorated for students who enroll less than full year, full time. Students in a second bachelor’s degree program may borrow at undergraduate maximum loan limits.

 

Dependent (as defined by the FAFSA)

Independent

 

Annual maximum loan amount

Total lifetime loan limit

Annual maximum loan amount

Total lifetime loan limit

Freshmen (less than 24 earned hours)

$3,500 + $2,000

$31,000

$9,500

$57,500

Sophomore (24 to 53.9 earned hours)

$4,500 + $2,000

$31,000

$10,500

$57,500

Junior/Senior (54 or more earned hours)

$5,500 + $2,000

$31,000

$12,500

$57,500

Graduate

   

$20,500

$138,500

Professional-
Medical/Dental

   

$44,944

$224,000

Professional-
Pharmacy

   

$33,000

$224,000

Professional-
Health Administration

   

$33,000

$224,000

Professional-
all other

   

$20,500

$138,500

  • The more federal direct loan funds borrowed during fall and spring, the fewer loan funds will be available for the following summer.
  • The graduate debt limit includes outstanding loans from undergraduate programs.
  • Dependent students whose parents’ have been denied PLUS loans due to adverse credit history may be eligible to borrow additional unsubsidized funds.

Interest rates

Federal direct loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2016, and prior to June 30, 2017, have fixed interest rates of:

  • 3.76% for undergraduate borrowers of federal direct subsidized loans  
  • 3.76% for undergraduate borrowers of federal direct unsubsidized loans
  • 5.31% for graduate borrowers of federal direct unsubsidized loans

For more information on interest rates, contact the Direct Loan Servicing Center at (800) 557-7394.

Fees

An origination fee is deducted from each disbursement of federal direct loans. This fee goes to the federal government to help reduce the cost of these loans.

Loan type

First disbursement date

Loan fee

Direct subsidized loans and direct unsubsidized loans

On or after 10/1/15 and before 10/1/16

1.068%

On or after 10/1/16 and before 10/1/17

1.069%

Loan disclosure

Students will receive their loan disclosure statement from the federal Loan Origination Center for each new loan borrowed. The disclosure statements provide information about the types and amounts of loans borrowed, the loan period and the anticipated disbursement dates. Students should maintain the statements for their records.

In order for the funds to be disbursed, students MUST accept the loan. Students may decline or reduce the amount of their loans by filling out the Financial Aid Award Change Form, or by notifying the VCU Office of Financial Aid in writing. To avoid incurring interest charges and loan fees, funds must be returned within 120 days of disbursement. The loan fee will be reduced or eliminated in proportion to the amount of the disbursement returned.

Disbursement

Federal regulations require two disbursements of all federal direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans. If all necessary documents have been received and there are no changes in expected enrollment status, the first disbursement should be made during the first week of classes and the second disbursement should be made during the first week of classes of the second semester for fall/spring loans.

Refunds are deposited directly to the student’s designated bank account. If a student does not specify a bank account, a refund check will be mailed to the student’s permanent address on file.

Federal Direct PLUS loans are low-interest loans that graduate and professional students and parents of dependent undergraduate students can use to pay education costs not covered by other aid. These loans are not based on financial need, and the federal government does not pay the interest.

To be considered for these loans, students must:

  • Complete the FAFSA
  • Be enrolled at least half time
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • Be enrolled in a degree or certificate-granting program

Additionally, parent borrowers must complete the VCU Financial Aid Federal Direct PLUS Loan Request, and graduate borrowers must complete the 2016-17 Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Request.

To borrow a PLUS loan for a student, the parent must be the student’s biological or adoptive mother or father. A stepparent is also eligible to borrow a PLUS loan if his or her income and assets would be taken into account when calculating the dependent student’s expected family contribution (EFC). A legal guardian is not considered a parent for federal student aid purposes.

Graduate students and parent borrowers will be required to pass a credit check. Borrowers with adverse credit history or who have filed bankruptcy in the past may be denied the PLUS loan. Borrowers who do not pass the credit check may still be able to receive a loan with a creditworthy co-signer. Additionally, if a borrower does not pass the credit check, the student may be eligible for a federal direct unsubsidized loan.

Promissory notes

In order to receive federal Direct PLUS loan funds, the borrower must complete an electronic Master Promissory Note (MPN).

Borrowers will receive their PLUS disclosure statement from the federal Loan Origination Center for each new loan borrowed. The disclosure statements provide information about the amount of money borrowed, the loan period and the anticipated disbursement dates. Borrowers should maintain the statements for their records.

If a co-signer is used on a PLUS loan, the borrower must complete a new MPN each year the co-signer is needed.

In order for the funds to be disbursed, students MUST . Borrowers may decline or reduce the amount of their original loan request by filling out a Financial Aid Award Change Form or by notifying the VCU Office of Financial Aid in writing. To avoid incurring interest charges and loan fees, funds must be returned within 120 days of disbursement. The loan fee will be reduced or eliminated in proportion to the amount of the disbursement returned.

Award amounts

The yearly limit on a federal Direct PLUS loan is equal to cost of attendance (COA) minus any other available financial aid. For example, if the COA is $10,000 and the student is eligible for $8,000 in other financial aid, parents could borrow up to $2,000.

Federal Direct PLUS loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2016, have a fixed interest rate of 6.31 percent. For more information on interest rates, contact the Direct Loan Servicing Center at (800) 557-7394.

There is a fee deducted from each disbursement of a federal Direct Graduate PLUS loan. This fee goes to the federal government to help reduce the cost of this loan.

Loan type

First disbursement date

Loan fee

Direct PLUS loans (including parent and graduate/professional students)

 

On or after 10/1/15 and before 10/1/16

4.272%

On or after 10/1/16 and before 10/1/17

4.276%

 

Disbursement

Federal regulations require two disbursements of all federal Direct PLUS loans borrowed within an academic year. If the loan is approved and all necessary documents have been received, the first disbursement should be made during the first week of classes, and the second disbursement should be made during the first week of classes at the beginning of the second semester for fall/spring loans.

Refunds are mailed to the loan borrower. Parent borrowers can request to have refunds released to the student by indicating this option on the loan request form.

Federal Perkins loans are low-interest, long-term loans awarded to undergraduate and graduate students based on need. No interest is charged while students are enrolled in school on at least a half-time basis. Funds are awarded based on availability.

To be considered for an award at VCU, the student must:

  • Complete the FAFSA
  • Complete the Perkins Master Promissory Note and Perkins Biographical Data Sheet (forms available at the Student Services Center
  • Be admitted to VCU as a degree-seeking undergraduate or graduate student
  • Be enrolled in six or more credit hours each semester for undergraduates, five or more credit hours each semester for graduates
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress
  • Not owe a refund on a federal student grant or be in default on a federal student loan
  • Not be enrolled in a program leading to a second baccalaureate degree

Undergraduate students must first maximize the annual borrowing limit for direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans and must not have an outstanding balance on a Perkins loan made by VCU.

Graduate students must have received a Perkins loan before Oct. 1, 2015.

Federal Perkins loan borrowers must have an exit interview before leaving VCU or if they drop below six credit hours per semester.

Promissory note

The Perkins Master Promissory Note is used to receive multiple Perkins loans while enrolled at VCU. However, signing the MPN does not guarantee future Perkins awards.

Students that have been offered a federal Perkins loan can go to the Student Services Center or visit any financial aid counseling office on the MCV Campus to complete and submit a Perkins MPN and biographical data sheet.

The VCU Office of Financial Aid must receive these documents before funds can be credited. Failure to return the MPN within 30 days of receiving it may result in loan cancellation.

Award amounts

Award amounts are initially offered based on full-year, full-time enrollment. The amount students can borrow each year depends upon financial need, total funds available and annual and lifetime loan limits.

Undergraduates may borrow up to $3,000 annually, with a lifetime loan limit of $27,500; graduate students may borrow up to $5,000 annually with a lifetime loan limit of $60,000, including loans received as an undergraduate.

Due to federal policy, the loan may affect a student’s eligibility to receive other financial aid beyond those listed on the Financial Aid Award Notification. Perkins loans may be reduced or cancelled if a student receives scholarships or grants not listed on the notification. Students will be notified if their loans or other financial aid awards are revised.

Interest and fees

The federal Perkins loan has a fixed interest rate of 5 percent for undergraduate and graduate borrowers. There are no fees deducted from Perkins loan disbursements.

Disbursement

Federal regulations require two disbursements of all federal Perkins loans. If the VCU Office of Financial Aid has received confirmation of the loan, all documents have been received and there are no changes in expected enrollment status, the first disbursement should be made during the first week of classes and the second disbursement should be made during the first week of classes at the beginning of the second semester for fall/spring loan.

Repayment 

Borrowers will have nine months after they graduate, leave school or drop below half-time status before they must begin repayment. Interest will not begin to accrue on the loan until after the nine-month grace period. 

Borrowers will make payments to VCU’s billing and payment service:

Heartland ECSI
100 Global View Drive
Warrendale, PA 15086
(888) 549-3274

Alternative loans are designed to help students and their families cover costs not included in their federal financial aid package.

Interest rates, repayment terms, loan limits, eligibility and co-signer requirements and loan fees vary by lender. Loan approval is generally based on creditworthiness and ability to repay. Interest rates are typically higher than federal direct loans.

When applying for an alternative loan, students should understand the terms of each loan and ensure that they are applying for an alternative loan, not a federal student loan. Students are automatically considered for federal direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans when submitting the FAFSA.

The VCU Office of Financial Aid recommends that students explore all federal student aid options prior to applying for private loans.

Applications for alternative loans are submitted electronically through the lender’s website. ELMSelect provides students and families with information on frequently used private loan lenders.

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