Federal Loan Options

Funds for the Federal Loan Programs, either in part or total, have been appropriated by the United States Congress and are administered by the University.

Please note that there are changes to federal Direct loan programs beginning in the 2013-14 academic year (July 2013-June 2014). Borrowers may review these changes by clicking here.

You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to participate in the federal loan programs.

Loan Program Name Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Federal Perkins Loan
Borrower Graduate and Professional Students enrolled at least half-time. They do not need to demonstrate financial need. Graduate and Professional Students enrolled at least half-time. They do not need to demonstrate financial need. Graduate and Professional Students enrolled at least half-time who demonstrate exceptional financial need as determined by the Office of Financial Aid.
Lender William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program Northwestern University
Loan Amount

Up to $20,500 per academic year

  • First year MD students may be eligible for an additional $22,222 per year based on their 10 month academic year.
  • Second year MD students may be eligible for an additional $20,000 per year based on their 9 month academic year.
  • Third year MD students may be eligible for an additional 24,444 per year based  on their 11 month academic year.
  • Fourth Year MD students may be eligible for an additional $24,444 per year based on their 11 month academic year.
Up to the cost of attendance less any other financial aid received annually. Up to $6,000 annually or the amount of need, whichever is less, depending on the availability of funds.
Application Process

First time borrowers: Complete the Accept/Decline Financial Aid process via CAESAR identifying the amount you wish to borrow. Complete the required online entrance counseling and Stafford loan master promissory note (MPN).

Returning borrowers: Complete the Accept/Decline Financial Aid process via CAESAR identifying the amount you wish to borrow. If you completed the entrance counseling and MPN in the previous aid year, you do not need to resubmit these documents. If 12 months have elapsed since you last received Stafford loan funds in your program at NU, you will need to complete a new MPN.

First time borrowers: Complete the Accept/Decline Financial Aid process via CAESAR identifying the amount you wish to borrow. Complete the required online entrance counseling and Grad PLUS master promissory note (MPN).

Returning borrowers: Complete the Accept/Decline Financial Aid process via CAESAR identifying the amount you wish to borrow. If you completed the entrance counseling and MPN in the previous aid year and did not require an endorser, you do not need to resubmit these documents. If 12 months have elapsed since you last received Graduate PLUS loan funds for your program at NU or if you required an endorser on your previous year's Graduate PLUS loan, you will need to complete a new MPN.

First time borrowers: Complete the Accept/Decline Financial Aid process via CAESAR identifying the amount you wish to borrow. 10-14 days after completing the accept/decline process, you will receive an email to your NU email account directing you to complete the required application, entrance counseling and Perkins loan Master Promissory Note (MPN)

Returning borrowers: Complete the Accept/Decline Financial Aid process via CAESAR identifying the amount you wish to borrow. If you completed the required Perkins loan documents in the previous aid year, you do not need to resubmit them.

Credit Information

The Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford loan program is not credit based. No credit check is required.

Credit approval is based on federally mandated criteria, not a credit score. In order to qualify, you must not have any of the following items on your credit report:

  • Any current delinquency of 90 days or more
  • Any of the following within the preceding 5 years of the date of the credit check:
    • Default
    • Bankruptcy
    • Discharge
    • Foreclosure
    • Repossession
    • Tax Lien
    • Wage garnishment
    • Write-off of a Title IV debt
    • Open collection

Recent changes in the law that governs the terms and conditions of Grad PLUS loans establish a specific circumstance for certain Grad PLUS loan applicants who would otherwise be considered to have an adverse credit history. Specifically, a Grad PLUS loan applicant may qualify for a Grad PLUS loan based on extenuating circumstances if the applicant:

  • Has been or is delinquent for 180 days or less on mortgage loan payments or on medical bill payments for the applicant or the applicant's family AND does not otherwise have an adverse credit history as determined in accordance with the federal regulations that apply to Grad PLUS loan applicants.

Borrowers with an adverse credit history may apply for the loan with a cosigner (called an endorser) who does not have an adverse credit history.

The Federal Perkins loan is not credit based. No credit check is required.
Interest Rate
  • Fixed 5.41% for the life of the loan for loans with a first disbursement between 7/1/2013 and 6/30/2014. 
  • Fixed 6.21% for the life of the loan for loans with a first disbursement between 7/1/2014 and 6/30/2015

Interest accrues from the time of disbursement.

  • Fixed 6.41% for the life of the loan for loans with a first disbursement between 7/1/2013 and 6/30/2014.
  • Fixed 7.21% for the life of the loan for loans with a first disbursement between 7/1/2014 and 6/30/2015

Interest accrues from the time of disbursement.

Fixed 5.0% during repayment. Interest does not accrue until the student enters repayment.
Fees
  • 1.051% for loans disbursed prior to December 1, 2013
  • 1.072% for loans disbursed on or after December 1, 2013 through September 30, 2014
  • 1.073% for loans disbursed on or after October 1, 2014
  • 4.204% for loans disbursed prior to December 1, 2013
  • 4.288% for loans disbursed on or after December 1, 2013 through September 30, 2014
  • 4.292% for loans disbursed on or after October 1, 2014
0%
Repayment The borrower has up to 10 years to repay the loan under the standard repayment plan. Extended and income-based repayment plans are available under certain conditions. The borrower has a maximum of 25 years to repay the loan. The borrower has up to 10 years to repay the loan.
Application Instructions Take me to the application instructions for the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan Take me to the application instructions for the federal Direct Graduate PLUS loan Take me to the application instructions for the Federal Perkins Loan.