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Qualifying for Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans

Also called federal direct loans, federal student loans are the most commonly used to pay for college. The money is loaned directly to you, and you are solely responsible for repaying the money after dropping below a part-time credit load or leaving WSU.

To apply for federal student loans, you must first complete the FAFSA at There are 2 types of federal student loans: subsidized and unsubsidized.

If you have exceptional financial need (as determined by the FAFSA), you may also be eligible for low-interest Perkins Loans through Washington State University. WSU also offers short-term loans for students who are facing financial emergencies.

Next steps

Aid Estimator

Complete the FAFSA

Accept a Loan

Subsidized loans

Eligibility for subsidized loans is based on financial need as determined by the FAFSA.

The federal government pays the interest while you are in college and during the six-month grace period after you leave school or enroll less than half time—you are not required to make loan payments until your grace period ends.

Subsidized loans are available only to undergraduate students. See graduate and professional student options.

Unsubsidized loans

Unsubsidized loans are offered regardless of income or assets.

You are responsible for paying all the interest on the loan. You may choose to defer interest and principal payments while in school at least half time. If you do, the interest will be capitalized—that is, added to the initial amount you borrowed. Future interest costs will be based on that higher loan amount.

Loan amounts and limits

There are limits on the amount of loans that you can receive each academic year (annual loan limits) and on the total amounts that you may borrow for undergraduate and graduate study (aggregate loan limits).

The actual loan amount you’re eligible to receive each academic year may be less than the annual loan limit.

Undergraduate students

Type of loanFreshman Annual LimitSophomore Annual Limit Junior Annual LimitSenior Annual LimitLifetime Limit
Subsidized loan: dependent student$3,500$4,500$5,500$5,500$23,000
Subsidized loan: independent student$3,500$4,500$5,500$5,500$23,000
Unsubsidized loan: Dependent student$2,000$2,000$2,000$2,000$8,000
Unsubsidized loan: Independent student$6,000$6,000
Direct PLUS Parent LoanThe loan amount varies widely. It should not exceed the total cost of assistance including other types of assistance. This loan requires good credit.
Private / Alternative LoansThe loan amount varies, but can not exceed the total cost of assistance including other types of assistance. This loan requires good credit.
See current student loan interest rates

Find out if you’re a dependent student or independent student

Graduate and professional students

Type of loanAnnual Loan LimitLifetime aggregate limit
Unsubsidized Direct Loan for Graduate Students$20,500$138,500
Unsubsidized direct student loan for medical students$40,500$224,000
Unsubsidized direct loan for Pharmacy students (9-month program)$33,000$224,000
Unsubsidized direct loan for Pharmacy students (12-month program)$37,167
Unsubsidized direct loan for Veterinary students (9-month program)$40,500$224,000
Unsubsidized direct loan for Veterinary students (12-month program)$47,167$224,000
PLUS Loan for Graduate StudentsAmounts vary widely. They should not exceed the total cost of attendance including other types of assistance. This loan requires good credit.
Loan for Health ProfessionsThis loan is based on the EFC criteria, the FAFSA delivery date, and the current level of HPL funding. Amounts granted vary according to availability.
Private / Alternative LoansAmounts vary widely. They should not exceed the total cost of attendance including other types of assistance. This loan requires good credit.
See current student loan interest rates

Borrow responsibly

Student loans are an important financial commitment—plan ahead and make sure to borrow responsibly.

Before applying for a loan, determine how much you’ll be able to afford to repay by estimating:

Borrow only what you can comfortably repay within that budget.

See current student loan interest rates

Perkins Loans

The U.S. Department of Education is ending the Federal Perkins Loan program as of September 30, 2017. Only students who received a Perkins loan disbursement prior to September 30, 2017 are eligible for this loan for the remainder of the 2017-2018 school year. No new Perkins loans will be offered after September 30, 2017. 


Washington State University, low interest Perkins Loans may be offered to qualifying students with exceptional financial need if their FAFSA was completed on or before the WSU priority deadline.

  • Funding is limited. The maximum annual award amount per qualified student varies from year to year depending on the total available funding.
  • At WSU, students must be enrolled at least half-time.
  • A Perkins loan is campus-based with the school serving as the lender.

Students have up to nine months after leaving school, or dropping below half-time to begin repayment. The interest rate is 5% fixed, does not accrue until entering repayment, and there are no loan origination fees. Payments are submitted to WSU via, a loan service provider.

Emergency short-term loans

The Short-Term Loan (STL) program is funded by WSU funds. Since it is a “revolving” fund, the amounts available for lending will vary depending on the payments and interest collected from previous borrowers.

WSU short-term loans are not an ordinary source of aid. They are only intended to bridge a gap until other resources arrive—for instance, emergency situations when financial aid is not available to cover costs in a timely manner or when unexpected costs occur.


STLs are available to assist with a student’s immediate needs, such as books/rent/food, but not to pay tuition, mandatory fees, or other charges.You must be currently enrolled to request a short-term loan. WSU faculty/staff members who are enrolled in classes are not eligible.

You must be able to document a guaranteed source of repayment to be eligible to borrow. (A Stafford Loan that has been processed but has not arrived yet is one example of a guaranteed source of repayment.)

In some cases, you will be required to get a co-borrower (a.k.a. co-signer) on your application.

  • A co-borrower is a person who is equally responsible to repay the loan if the borrower (you) does not make the scheduled payments.
  • Parents are the most usual choice for a co-borrower.
  • Co-borrowers cannot be other students or a spouse of the borrower.
  • Co-borrowers must have been employed for at least a year at the same position unless they are a parent of the borrower.

Loan process

Prospective borrowers must obtain the STL packet to begin the process.

  1. Contact our office and indicate that you are seeking an STL
  2. An SFS counselor will review your account to determine if you are eligible for a short term loan
    • If you do not have a financial aid award, you ARE NOT eligible
  3. If you are eligible for an STL, the counselor will determine if a cosigner is required
    • A cosigner WILL BE required if you have a pending SAP Appeal and/or if you have outstanding documents we have requested from you
  4. The counselor will then initiate a myWSU To-Do list item for you. They will also send an email to your cosigner if needed.
  5. 2 hours after the counselor initiated the To-Do list item, you will be able to complete the STL application at
    • The application will have or collect the following information:
      • STL rights, responsibilities, and conditions
      • STL information and details
      • STL quiz
      • Your contact information
      • Your parental/guardian reference information
      • Your reference information
  6. You will complete this information and submit the application
  7. University Receivables will receive this information and then send you the Master Promissory Note (MPN) email.
  8. You must complete, print out, and submit this information (MPN and cosigner reference sheet) to University Receivables
  9. Once University Receivables has received all needed documents, your STL will be sent to you via direct deposit or check

Loan applications should not be submitted until all sections have been completed.

  • Completed applications are submitted to the Student Loan Office at University Receivables (not to Student Financial Services).
  • Loan approval and processing may take 24-48 hours, depending on the current volume of loans.

The amount approved for books and other expenses will be delivered to you either by direct deposit or mailed check, depending on your prior arrangements with University Receivables.


Interest is charged on the loan at a rate of 6%. Short-term loans are usually repaid within the same term they are borrowed.Payment must be made on time or you will accrue late charges. Failure to repay a short-term loan on time can impact your future ability to borrow.

Repayment is usually automatic, occurring when your financial aid is credited to your student account. (If your source of repayment was not financial aid, or if you canceled the aid, or if you did not receive the amount of aid you expected, you must still repay the loan as scheduled.)

Contact information

University Receivables Office

Washington State University
French Admin. Bldg, Rm. 342
P.O. Box 641039
Pullman, WA 99164-1039
Phone: (509) 335-9653

Washington State University