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.  The University’s loan default rates remain low, (2016 cohort default rate is 2.8%) an indication of responsible borrowing by our students’ and a good indication that a UW education helps ensure our students can repay their loans.

Loan types

Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loans and Nursing Student Loans are offered 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. Only undergraduate students are eligible for Subsidized Stafford loans.

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.

Unsubsidized Stafford/Ford Loans and Federal Direct Graduate PLUS (GPLUS) Loans are also available for graduate and professional students with need. Students who do not qualify for need-based assistance may qualify for these two loans. Unlike the Subsidized Stafford Loan, interest accrues on this Unsubsidized and GPLUS loans 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. A credit check is required for the GPLUS loan. By accepting the GPLUS loan on MyUW, the borrower is authorizing the U.S. Department of Education to check their credit history. If the borrower’s credit check is denied, they may appeal to the Direct Loan Program or obtain an endorser. If a security freeze has been placed on their credit file, it will need to be temporarily removed while this process is completed.

Entrance counseling

If you are a first time borrower of a Stafford, Unsubsidized or Graduate PLUS Loan, you are required to complete entrance counseling at During entrance counseling you will learn what a direct loan is, how the process works, your rights and responsibilities as a borrower, how to manage your educational expenses and about other financial resources that may help pay for your education.

Annual Student Loan Acknowledgment

The Annual Student Loan Acknowledgment (ASLA) is available at Who should complete the ASLA? Borrowers accepting a subsidized/unsubsidized loan, a PLUS loan for graduate/professional students, or a PLUS loan for parents. Borrowers are acknowledging that they understand their responsibility to repay the loan and that they understand how much they owe and how much more they can borrow.

Exit counseling

Before you graduate, withdraw from school, or drop below half-time enrollment, you are required to complete exit loan counseling if you borrowed from the Direct Loan program (Direct Stafford, Direct Unsubsidized Stafford and/or Direct Graduate PLUS).

Exit counseling provides you information you will need to know about your rights and responsibilities in repaying your loans. You will learn about repayment plans and options; debt management strategies that will help you manage repayment; and review the conditions under which you may defer or forbear payment, or receive partial forgiveness or discharge of a loan.

The Department of Education provides online exit counseling through the Federal Student Aid Student Loans website. You will need your FSA Id (used to e-sign your FAFSA) to complete the exit counseling.

Alaska Resident Loans

The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE), a government agency and nonprofit education lender, offers a variety of low-cost financial aid programs for Alaskan students and families. For more details, please review their website.

Getting Help

The UW Office of Student Financial Aid at is a good starting point for information and resources regarding obtaining financial aid, and for issues or assistance after you successfully obtain a loan. After you obtain a loan, the WA Student Achievement Council (WSAC) can also provide information and resources about student loan repayment, or can assist with a complaint relating to your student loans or student loan servicer. Please visit or contact the WSAC Student Loan Advocate at for additional information. 

Additional help is available with the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group. For more information, please visit Getting Prepared Before Seeking Help.