The Federal Stafford Student Loan Program enables students who are enrolled at least half-time (two units) to borrow from eligible lenders at a low interest rate to help meet educational expenses. The Federal Stafford Loan may be subsidized or unsubsidized. Eligibility for the interest subsidy is determined by a federal needs formula based upon the information the student and her parents provide on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). For a student who qualifies for the interest subsidy, the federal government pays the interest until repayment begins. If a student does not qualify for the interest subsidy, she may borrow under the unsubsidized program and will be responsible for paying the interest from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full. Under both programs, the principal is deferred as long as the student is enrolled at least half-time.
A dependent undergraduate student may borrow from $3,500 up to $5,500 per year, depending on her year in college and her financial eligibility. Repayment begins six months after the student is no longer enrolled at least half-time at an accredited institution. Some lenders may charge a fee up to 4 percent of the loan, deducted proportionately from each loan disbursement. The interest rate on the Stafford Loan for new loans first disbursed after July 1, 2006 is a fixed rate of 6.8 percent. The same rate applies to the in-school, grace and repayment periods. For Stafford Loans disbursed between July 1, 1998 and June 30, 2006, the interest rate is variable and will continue to change annually on July 1 but will not exceed 8.25 percent. For July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008 , the variable interest rate on these Stafford Loans is 6.62 during in-school and grace periods and 7.22 percent during repayment.
First-time borrowers are encouraged to secure loans through lenders that participate in the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) Keystone BEST Program. PHEAA is known nationally as American Education Services (AES). These lenders offer incentives that reduce the cost of borrowing. Bryn Mawr College also participates in a fully automated loan process through the AES/PHEAA Loan Division that expedites the delivery of loan funds. More information about the Federal Stafford Loan Program is available from the financial aid office.
The Perkins Loan Program is administered by the College from allocated federal funds. Eligibility for a Perkins Loan is determined through a federal needs test. The 5 percent interest rate and repayment of the loan begin nine months after graduation, withdrawal from the College or dropping below half-time status. No interest accrues on the loan until repayment begins. Cancellation and deferment of loan payments are possible under certain circumstances, which are detailed in the loan promissory note. Awards range from $500 to $4,000 per year and are based on financial eligibility and the availability of funds.
The Federal PLUS Loan is a federally subsidized loan program designed to help parents of dependent undergraduates pay for educational expenses. Effective July 1, 2006 graduate and professional students are also eligible for a PLUS loan. All PLUS borrowers must pass a credit check. Generally, repayment begins 60 days after the loan funds are disbursed. Some lenders offer forbearance options. PLUS borrowers will pay a fee of up to 4 percent of the loan, deducted proportionately each time a loan disbursement is made. The interest rates on new PLUS Loans first disbursed after July 1, 2006 is a fixed rate of 8.5 percent. For PLUS Loans disbursed between July 1, 1998 and June 30, 2006, the interest rate is variable and is determined annually on July 1, but will not exceed 9 percent. For July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008 , the variable interest rate for these PLUS Loans is 8.02 percent.