Federal Direct Stafford Loan Program

Rensselaer at Hartford offers low-interest loans to eligible students through the Federal Direct Stafford Loan Program. You can borrow loan amounts directly from the federal government through the U.S. Department of Education. And you need not have established credit-worthiness or a credit history in order to qualify. Through this loan program, graduate students may borrow up to $20,500 per award year.

The interest is a fixed rate for the academic year the loan is secured, and continues through repayment. The rate for the 2014-2015 academic year is 6.21%. You can choose to either make quarterly interest-only payments, or defer interest payments until repayment of principal begins. Deferred interest is capitalized upon repayment.

The aggregate limit is $138,500. [Note: As of July 1, 2012, Subsidized Stafford Loans are no longer available.]

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan

Graduate students may also be considered for the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loan program.  The maximum eligibility is determined by cost of attendance minus other financial aid. A credit check is required, but a student with limited or no credit history may still qualify. The Department of Education will retain 4.288% of the amount you borrow for in loan fees.  Repayment begins 60 days after the funds are fully disbursed, but a student may defer principal and capitalize interest while enrolled at least half-time. The annual interest rate is a fixed rate equal to the high yield Treasury Note as of June 1st plus 4.6%.  The 2014-2015 interest rate is 7.21%.

If eligible, you are encouraged to take full advantage of these programs with the understanding that student loans must be repaid. It is important, therefore, for you to consider your ability to repay the loan in relation to your projected future earnings. It is also important to note that federal policy specifies that the primary responsibility for meeting educational costs rests with you and your family. Federal student loans are available to help bridge the gap between the cost of education and your family's ability to pay.

The Department of Education recently has set up an Office of the Ombudsman to work with student loan borrowers to informally resolve loan disputes and problems. To contact Ombudsman Debra Wiley's office, please use the toll-free number (877) 557-2575 or visit their web site at ombudsman.ed.gov. The mailing address is: U.S. Department of Education, FSA Ombudsman, 830 First Street, NW, Fourth Floor, Washington DC 20202-5144. The phone number is (877) 557-2575.

For additional information on every stage of the federal financial aid process, please visit the U.S. Department of Education's Student Financial Assistance web site: www.ed.gov/studentaid. Numerous helpful links can be found at this site, particularly if you click on "Funding Your Education," or "Visit our New Federal Student Aid Portal."

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Updated: 2016-04-21, 15:03