PLUS loans are federal loans that graduate or professional degree students can use to help pay education expenses. The U.S. Department of Education makes Direct PLUS Loans to eligible borrowers through schools participating in the Direct Loan Program. Bryn Mawr College participates in the Direct Loan Program. This means when you borrow a federal loan while attending Bryn Mawr, you are borrowing directly from the Department of Education (DOE). Loans made through this program include the Direct Unsubsidized, Direct PLUS and Direct Consolidation Loans.
A note about Direct “Subsidized” Loans: The Budget Control Act of 2011 discontinued graduate student participation in the Direct Subsidized Loan Program effective July 1, 2012. For periods of enrollment (loan periods) beginning on or after July 1, 2012, graduate students were no longer eligible to receive Direct Subsidized Loans. Under the Direct Unsubsidized Loan Program, you will be charged interest from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full. If you allow the interest to accrue while you are in school or during other periods of nonpayment, it will be capitalized, that is, the interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan, and additional interest will be based on that higher amount. Students interested in the graduate Direct PLUS Loan must complete a FAFSA which is used to determine eligibility for all federal loans. The maximum amount a student may borrow is the cost of attendance minus other estimated financial assistance for the loan period. At Bryn Mawr, you inform the Office of Financial Aid of the amount you wish to borrow by completing the Graduate Direct PLUS Loan Action Sheet. A graduate or professional PLUS borrower must not have an adverse credit history, therefore, a credit check will be performed.
Interest Rates: Effective with the passage of the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013, interest rates are determined each June for new loans being made for the upcoming award year, which runs from July 1 to the following June 30. Each loan has a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan. For 2017-2018 the interest rate was fixed at 6% for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans and 7% for Direct PLUS Loans.
Other Fees: Students who borrow Direct Unsubsidized Loans, will be charged an origination fee of 1.069% and Direct PLUS borrowers are charged 4.276% for loans disbursed by September 30, 2016. For loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 2017, the loan fee may be different depending on the across the board federal budget cuts, known as “sequester” put into place by the Budget Control Act of 2011. The Department of Education will notify borrowers of fee changes and will provide additional information when the fee amount has been determined.
Interest Rebates: An interest rebate is a repayment incentive offered to Direct Loan borrowers by the DOE. This rebate lowers the interest rate and is given up front as an incentive to establish a good repayment relationship with the DOE. To keep the interest rebate, the first twelve required monthly payments must be made on time. If all twelve payments are not made on time, the rebate amount will be added back to the loan account.
Discounts for Electronic Payments: You might be able to get a 0.25% rate discount as a repayment incentive for automatic payments. This interest rate reduction is for having payments electronically debited from your bank account and is a rebate given up front. When you make your payments on time you are taking steps toward building a solid credit history. Check with your loan servicer for this discount.
Borrowing Limits: The Direct Loan amount on your initial award letter lists your maximum unsubsidized eligibility. You must notify the Office of Financial Aid via https://bionic.brynmawr.edu Self-Service if you wish to accept, decline, or reduce your loan.
Graduate Annual Loan Limits and Terms: Depending on the cost of attendance, graduate students may borrow up to$20,500 annually in an Unsubsidized Loan. Two terms represent an annual loan period. The Direct PLUS Loan annual limit is determined by student cost of attendance minus other aid received. Borrower-Based Loans: Borrower-Based Loans (BB) are awarded to eligible students who start the academic year in the Summer. Two terms represent an annual loan period, therefore, a BB loan includes the Summer and Fall terms asone loan period, with the Spring term starting a new loan period. Loans borrowed in the Spring BB loan period are included in the following Summer term when loan eligibility is being determined.
Aggregate Limit: The aggregate limit for graduate students is $138,500. No more than $65,500 of this amount may be unsubsidized loans.
Master Promissory Notes: All Direct Loan first-time borrowers must sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN). The MPN is a multi-year promissory note good for ten years from the date your first loan is disbursed. Borrowers may complete an electronic MPN (eMPN) at http://www.studentloans.gov. The eMPN speeds up the processing of your loan. Paper MPNs are available from the Office of Financial Aid.
Loan Counseling: All first-time Direct Loan borrowers at Bryn Mawr must complete loan entrance counseling to review your rights and responsibilities as a Direct Loan borrower or as a Direct Graduate PLUS Loan borrower before funds can be disbursed. Borrowers must also complete exit counseling prior to graduation or dropping below half-time enrollment. You may satisfy these obligations on line by logging onto www.studentloans.gov.
Loan Disbursement: Your Direct Loan funds will be electronically transmitted to Bryn Mawr each semester. The Office of Financial Aid will notify you when the funds have been credited to your account. If you borrow for a loan period that covers two terms, one-half of your loan proceeds will be credited to your student account in the first term and the remaining half in the second term. If you borrow for one semester, your loan funds may be credited in two separate installments during the term for which you borrowed. However, most one semester loans will be credited in a single installment. NOTE that loan fees will be subtracted from your loan. This means that the amount received at the College will be different than what you see on your award notification. The net amount of your loan is what is credited to your student account.
Refund Checks: If all of your paperwork has been processed in a timely manner, your Direct Loan funds will be sent to Bryn Mawr about a week before the start of the school term. Funds in excess of your bill will not be released until after the first day of classes, and you are “officially enrolled.” Refund checks are run weekly and mailed on Mondays. During the summer, checks are mailed to your permanent address. Direct deposit is available and the form can be downloaded from the forms page at: /sites/default/files/Student_refundrequest_711.pdf . Contact the Office of Financial Aid if you have any additional questions about refund checks.
Repayment: Direct Loan repayment begins 6 months after you cease to be enrolled on at least a half-time basis. Payment terms range from 10 to 25 years depending on the repayment plan you choose. The minimum monthly payment is $50. If you borrow a small amount, you will have shorter repayment terms. If you borrow a large amount, your repayment term will be longer. When you are entering repayment, you should review your options at www.federalstudentaid.ed.gov.
Repayment for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan begins on the date the loan is fully disbursed. The first payment is due within 60 days after the date the loan is fully disbursed. A Graduate PLUS Loan borrower who drops below half-time enrollment is not entitled to a grace period and goes into repayment immediately. Graduate PLUS Loan borrowers may receive a deferment while enrolled at least half-time at an eligible institution. Verification of enrollment is performed by the College’s Registrar’s Office and is sent to your lender automatically each term.
General Loan Repayment
Comprehensive repayment plans and schedules, along with an interactive calculator, are available at www.studentaid.ed.gov.
The federal government provides various ways for you to pay back federal loans based on income rather than amount borrowed. The Office of Financial Aid recommends you work with your loan servicer when choosing a repayment plan.
To learn more and apply, go to: https://www.studentaid.gov/types/loans/plus#am-i-eligible-for