Student Loans

5 Tips When Applying for Federal Perkins Loans

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A Perkins Loan is a need-based student loan offered by the federal government. Like other types of loans, these funds open the door to higher education. Although most people who apply for college need financial aid, Perkins Loans are designed specifically for people with a greater financial need. Available to undergraduates and graduates, these loans feature a low interest rate and repayment doesn’t begin until nine months after graduation.

However, meeting the qualifications and requirements for a Perkins Loans doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed funds. Different factors can stand in your way of an approval. If you need financial aid, here are five tips when applying for federal Perkins Loans.

1. Check to See if Your School Participates

Unfortunately, not all colleges and universities participate in the Perkins Loan Program. If you have a greater financial need, and you were planning on applying for a Perkins Loan, contact your college’ financial aid department. A representative in the financial aid department can confirm whether the school participates in the program, and if the school doesn’t participate, this individual can help you find alternative programs, such as a subsidized direct loan from the federal government.

2. Apply for a Perkins Loan Early

With regards to a Federal Perkins Loan, colleges and universities receive a specific amount from the federal government. Each school decides which students are eligible for a Perkins Loan, as well as how much each student receives. Because funds are limited, it is important that you apply for a Perkins Loan early. You have to complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and list your school on the application. If you submit an application after April 30, there be limited funds available by the time your school receives your application.

3. Enroll at Least Half Time

To be eligible for Perkins Loans, you must be enrolled in a degree program at least half time. Repayment for a Perkins Loan doesn’t start until nine months after graduation. However, if you’re awarded aid and you drop to less than part-time status, repayment on your student loan will begin sooner. Only apply for this type of financial aid if you anticipate part-time or full-time enrollment for the duration of your college career.

4. Complete a FAFSA Each Year

Eligibility for Perkins Loans requires completing a new financial aid application each year. Because circumstances can change rapidly, financial aid departments have to reassess your financial situation to determine whether you’re still eligible for the loan program. There are several ways to complete a FAFSA. Some people request a hard application and mail the completed form. To expedite the process, there is also the option of completing an online application.

5. Financial Aid Limits

Although schools determine which students are eligible and how much they receive, their are borrowing limits for both graduates and undergraduates. Undergraduates can borrow up to $5,500 a year and a total of $27,500. Meanwhile, graduates students are eligible for up to $8,000 a year and a total of $60,000 (including the amount borrowed as a undergraduate).