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General loan information:
Federal loans are a form of financial aid that must be paid back. Federal Loans are considered financial aid because they are guaranteed and/or regulated by the federal government. Students who wish to borrow money to pay some of the cost of their education may borrow from a federal loan program, such as the Federal Perkins Loan program or the Federal Stafford Loan Program. However, before you decide to borrow, calculate your actual costs, and consider other available aid.
Notes about Borrowing:
You should always apply for any scholarships, fellowships, grants, and work study first, before you borrow. It's important to file the FAFSA early each year (as soon as possible after January 1 each year) so that you can be considered for as much "free" aid as possible before you consider a loan. Loans must be repaid, and it is important that you take time to calculate your expenses and borrow only what you need for your college expenses. If you do borrow through the Stafford, Perkins, or any other loan program, review your accounts regularly (at least twice a year, if not more often). Be aware of any limits to the program that you are borrowing from, and plan your enrollment so that you can complete your degree before your funding runs out. It is important to remember that the Stafford loan program does have limits (see above) and once you reach the limit you may not be eligible for any further funding from the Stafford Program.
You can review your Stafford, Perkins, and Federal Grant history through secure login to the National Student Loan Database at www.nslds.ed.gov This is a site created to collect information from schools and lenders so that your aid can be more efficiently processed. It is a secure site, and only authorized personnel can log on. It is updated every 30-60 days by the schools and lenders, so recent disbursements may not show immediately.
Borrow only what is necessary to actually pay for your educational expenses
You can refuse awarded loan amounts or request lower awards without penalty.
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last updated March 9, 2012