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Student Loan Guide

The University of Washington participates in the major federal student loan programs to give our students the full range of options available for paying for college. We know that students would prefer to receive grants and scholarships, but reality is that many of our students must rely on loans as well to help pay for their education. The federal loan programs below offer a secure, government-regulated, reasonably affordable way to invest in yourself and your goal of a higher education.

Student Loans are financial obligations that must be repaid. Pay careful attention to the terms and conditions of any loan you accept to help pay for school. Do not borrow more than you need or can repay comfortably after leaving school. A comparison of various loans may be found on the Student Loan Program Chart.

Most student loans have the following characteristics:

  • They are interest-free while you are in school on at least a half-time basis and during the grace period (six to nine months after leaving school). Interest begins to accrue during the repayment period (Exception: Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford/Ford Loan and the Federal Direct PLUS Loan, on which interest begins to accrue when the loan is disbursed).
  • Repayment on student loans may be deferred temporarily if you return to school half-time or join the Armed Service, Peace Corps, VISTA, comparable volunteer organizations, or become a law enforcement officer. Some loans offer cancellation provisions based on public service or teaching in low-income service areas.
  • You may have up to 10 years to repay the loan, depending on the total amount borrowed or less than 10 years, if by making minimum payments your loan is paid off sooner. The Federal Direct Stafford/Ford Loan and Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford/Ford Loan have other repayment options, which may allow you a more flexible time period for repayment.
  • Title IV federal student loans are reported to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) and will be accessible by federal agencies and institutions determined to be authorized users of the data system to ensure proper administration of the loans. Student borrowers can access their NSLDS account as well to track their educational loan records.

Federal Perkins Student Loan, Nursing Student Loan and Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford/Ford Loans are awarded to students who demonstrate financial need. Interest is deferred while the student is enrolled in school on at least a half-time basis and during the grace period.

Students who do not qualify for need-based assistance may qualify for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford/Ford Loans. Unlike the Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford/Ford Loan, interest accrues on this loan during the time of enrollment, during the grace period and during periods of repayment or deferment. The borrower can make interest payments while in school or can request that the servicer add the interest to the principal of the loan (this is called "capitalization"). If the borrower does not make an interest payment as scheduled, the interest is automatically capitalized.

Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) enables parents to borrow for their dependent undergraduate children. These loans are based on credit, not on need. However the maximum amount borrowed may not exceed the difference between the school's determination of the cost of attendance and assistance received, including scholarships and other benefits. Students must first apply for a Federal Pell Grant and/or Federal Direct Stafford/Ford Loan before they can be considered for a Federal Direct PLUS Loan. Repayment on the Parent Loan begins 60 days after the full amount borrowed for the school year has been disbursed. Loans borrowed through the Federal Direct Loan Programs are borrowed directly from the federal government. The university will coordinate all paperwork for you (see Completing Paperwork for Loans). Repayment arrangements are handled by the Direct Loan Servicer (a servicer contracted by the federal government).

Unsubsidized Stafford/Ford Loans and Federal Direct PLUS Loans are also available for students with need. If the subsidized loan programs are not enough to meet your need, then we may also offer you these loan programs.