Federal Perkins Loans (which used to be the National Direct Student Loan Program) are Federal Student Aid (FSA) loans made directly to you as a student. Like all loans they have to be repaid, and you will have to sign a formal promissory note and pay interest, currently at 5% per annum. Unlike a Stafford Loan there is no loan fee.
The highest level of Federal Perkins Loan undergraduate award is presently $4,000 per annum, with a maximum of $20,000 for a full undergraduate degree program. For graduates the maximum is $6,000 per annum with a total of $40,000, including any undergraduate loans. Federal Perkins Loans funds will come directly from your school, and you will repay them to your school over a period of up to ten years.
Qualifying for a Federal Perkins Loan
Eligibility for Federal Perkins Loans differs from eligibility from Stafford Loans in two respects.
• You do not have to be studying at least half time
• Financial need is strongly taken in to consideration
A Federal Perkins Loan is normally awarded on top of a Pell Grant, and you will have to satisfy the usual eligibility conditions of citizenship, an approved college program, financial status, and so forth.
Applying for Federal Perkins Loans
Applying for a Federal Perkins Loan is done using the FAFSA (Federal Application for Student Aid) process. There is no special loan paperwork, aside from the promissory note. Bear in mind that Federal Perkins Loans funds are limited and allocated on a first-in-line basis. You should submit your FAFSA as soon as possible and it would be wise to start by consulting your college’s Financial Aid Office to confirm your eligibility for Federal Perkins Loans.