An educational loan is a form of financial aid that must be repaid. Educational loans have varying fees, interest rates, repayment terms, and/or borrower protections.

Harper College does not award Federal Direct Loans in the initial packaging of your financial aid. We first award grant and scholarship funds you are eligible to receive. Then, if you need a Direct Loan, you must follow the Steps to Request a Direct Loan as described below.

Cohort Default Rate

The three-year Cohort Default Rate for Harper College was 2.0 percent in FY2019. The national Cohort Default Rate for 2-3 public institutions was 3.7 percent.

Federal Direct Loan Information

Federal Direct Loans are available but must be repaid according to the terms specified for the loan program. Read this information carefully. Before you borrow, review the Sample Payment Chart below. Borrow only what you need.

Follow these steps to request a Federal Direct Loan.

Step 1: Complete Your Estimated Budget (All Borrowers)
It's important to know your income and expenses for an Estimated Budget. Complete and submit the Budget Worksheet using the form in Step 2.

Step 2: Complete a Loan Request Form (All Borrowers)

On the Loan Request Form, specify the total loan amount in subsidized and unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans you are requesting for the academic year.

Step 3: Complete the Loan Entrance Counseling and a Master Promissory Note (First Time Borrowers ONLY)
If you are a first time Federal Direct Loan borrower, you are required to complete the Loan Entrance Counseling session AND complete and sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN). Your loan will not be processed until both requirements are completed. Once completed, the Loan Entrance Counseling session and MPN are valid for future Federal Direct Loans while you are enrolled at Harper College. Repeat borrowers at Harper College do not need to complete Step 3.

The Cohort Default Rate (CDR) reflects the number of students who entered repayment in 2019 and defaulted on their federal student loans from October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2021.

The three-year CDR for Harper College was 2.0 percent in FY2019.

  • Note: Due to the high volume of people logging into the federal webpages, you may be redirected. You can log into your account at .  

    From a Phone: Select MENU in the upper right corner and then select Log In.
    From a Computer: Click on Log In in the upper right.
  • You will need an FSA ID to access your account. Information on creating and using your FSA ID is available at

To receive a Federal Direct Loan, you must meet the General Eligibility Requirements for federal financial aid, and be enrolled and attending at least six (6) credit hours (half time status) per term. English as a Second Language (ESL) and Adult Educational Development (AED) courses are excluded.

There are two types of Federal Direct Loans; subsidized and unsubsidized. The total loan amount you may borrow cannot exceed the Cost of Attendance less other financial aid received. Note the differences.

Direct Subsidized Loan

Loan funds provided to the student by the U.S. Department of Education, through the school. Undergraduate students with financial need can qualify for a subsidized loan. The government pays the interest on the loan while the student remains enrolled at least half time and during certain periods when the government allows deferment of repayment. There are annual limits on the amounts that may be borrowed, which vary by the student's academic year in school and the student's dependent or independent status.

  • Interest rate for Direct Subsidized Loans with a first disbursement date on or after July 1, 2022 and by June 30, 2023 is fixed for the life of the loan at 4.99%.

Direct Unsubsidized Loan

Loan funds provided to the student by the U.S. Department of Education, through the school. Undergraduate students and graduate students regardless of their need, qualify for an unsubsidized loan, provided they have filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Interest accrual begins immediately, and the student can choose to pay the interest while enrolled or upon entering repayment. There are annual limits on the amounts that may be borrowed, which vary by the student's academic year in school and the student's dependent or independent status.

  • Interest rate for Direct Unsubsidized Loans with a first disbursement date on or after July 1, 2022 and by June 30, 2023 is fixed for the life of the loan at 4.99%.

The Federal Direct Loan annual and aggregate amounts you may borrow are based on your dependency status (dependent or independent), cost of attendance budget, financial need, and grade level.

If you are eligible for a loan, the Direct Subsidized Loan is awarded first because these loan terms are less costly. Any additional loan amount is awarded as a Direct Unsubsidized Loan. Thus, you may be awarded either a subsidized or unsubsidized loan, or a combination of both loan types.

View Federal Direct Loan Limits (Subsidized and Unsubsidized).

Note: The Aggregate Maximum includes outstanding loans for ALL your undergraduate studies. Once you have reached the Aggregate Maximum, you cannot borrow until your debt is paid down below the set limits.

A federal origination fee of 1.057% is assessed for Direct Loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 2022 and before October 1, 2023.

The fee remains the same for any second or subsequent disbursements made. The origination fee is deducted at the time of disbursement.

If you were awarded a Direct Loan in your financial aid package and want to make an adjustment or change to your loan amount (cancel, reduce or increase), you must complete and submit a Federal Direct Loan Adjustment Request Form to the One Stop.

Federal Direct Loan funds are required to be paid in two disbursements during the academic period for which funds are awarded.

  • If you are a freshman, first time borrower, Harper College will delay the first installment of your Federal Direct Loan by 30 days.
  • Federal student loans cannot be disbursed until you are enrolled at least half time (6 credit hours) and you have begun attendance in the term for which you have requested the federal loan.

Your loan disbursements are paid to your Harper College account. These funds are applied towards your outstanding balance. Any remaining funds are refunded to you by the Business Office either by direct deposit or check.

The Direct Loan Entrance Counseling Guide and Direct Loan Exit Counseling Guide are provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Use these guides as a source of information you will need to successfully manage and repay your federal student loans.  

Repayment on a Federal Direct Loan begins six (6) months after you graduate, withdraw, or drop below half-time enrollment. If you are continuing your education at another school, contact your loan servicer to discuss how this impacts your loan repayment.

It is your responsibility to repay your loans to the federal government. There are many resources to help manage your loan repayment and avoid default.

  • Repayment plans are available that are time driven.
  • Repayment plans are available taking into account your income.
  • Deferment and forbearance can temporarily suspend payments for certain reasons such as attending another school, unemployment, or financial hardship.
  • Loan forgiveness is available for qualified borrowers.
  • Loan consolidation can combine multiple student loans into one loan.

This table provides estimated repayment terms using a Standard Repayment Plan. The payments are at a fixed monthly payment amount with 10 years to repay the loan in full. The current interest rate for a Federal Direct Loan (subsidized and unsubsidized) is 4.99 percent*. It was assumed that the maximum amount of subsidized Federal Direct Loans was borrowed and the remaining amount was in unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans.


Loan Amount

Fixed Interest Rate*

Estimated Monthly Payment

Total Estimated Amount Paid (Principal and Interest)

Repayment Period

$ 3,500


$ 50

$ 4,145

83 Months

$ 4,500


$ 50

$ 5,649

113 Months

$ 5,500


$ 58

$ 6,997

120 Months / 10 years

$ 6,500


$ 69

$ 8,269

120 Months / 10 years

$ 9,500


$ 101

$ 12,086

120 Months / 10 years

$ 10,500


$ 111

$ 13,358

120 Months / 10 years

* The interest rate is rounded to 5,00% for these calculations. Interest rate applies to loans first disbursed on or after July 1 2022 and by June 30, 2023.

To see which repayment plan is best for you, use the Loan Simulator from the U.S. Department of Education.

If you are having problems repaying your loan, help is available. Learn more about managing loan repayment or contact your loan servicer.

Loan funds provided to the parents of dependent undergraduate students by the U.S. Department of Education, through the school. This federal loan program allows parents with no adverse credit history to apply for a loan amount up to the cost of attendance each year, less any financial aid received by the dependent student. Repayment of principal and interest begins immediately once the loan is fully disbursed with some options to delay payment available.

We encourage families to exhaust all federal and state financial aid options before taking out a Federal Direct PLUS Loan.

A Federal Direct PLUS Loan:

  • is not based on financial need.
  • borrower is the parent.
  • borrower is subject to a credit check.
  • with a first disbursement date on or after July 1, 2022 and by June 30, 2023 has a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan of 7.54%.
  • is assessed a federal loan origination fee of 4.228% for PLUS Loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 2022 and before October 1, 2023. The origination fee is deducted at the time of disbursement.
  • is not subsidized by the federal government.
  • borrower can have payments deferred while the student is enrolled at Harper College at least six (6) credit hours, and an additional six (6) months thereafter.

To be considered for a Federal Direct PLUS Loan, the dependent student must file a FAFSA and be enrolled at least 6 hours at Harper College. The parent must meet the General Eligibility Requirements and Federal Direct PLUS Loan eligibility. The parent must go to and click on the Parent tab and complete four items in order to receive a Federal Direct PLUS Loan. These items are a Direct PLUS Loan Application that includes a credit check, a Master Promissory Note (MPN) for a Direct PLUS Loan and PLUS Credit Counseling.

If a parent prefers to take out a Direct PLUS Loan in lieu of a Direct Loan, two letters are required. One written letter must come from the student declining to take out the Direct Loan and another from the parent requesting to take out the Direct PLUS Loan. Submit the PLUS Loan application and any documentation, if needed, to the One Stop.

If a parent is unable to obtain a PLUS Loan due to an adverse credit history, the student may be eligible for additional unsubsidized Direct Loans. 

To learn more, go to Federal Direct PLUS Loan.

Alternative loans (sometimes called Private loans) is a source of funding available to pay for a college education.  These loans are made by private lenders such banks, credit unions, and state-based or state-affiliated organizations. 

Before considering an Alternative loan,

  • Borrowers are highly encouraged to exhaust all available federal funding sources through Grants, Work Study and Direct Loans that are designed to help pay for higher education expenses.
  • Alternative loan terms and conditions are set by the lender and are generally more expensive (i.e., higher interest rates and fees) than federal loans.
  • Alternative loan funds are counted like other sources of financial aid.  The total financial aid awarded to the student cannot exceed the cost of attendance.
  • The borrower is responsible for researching and selecting an Alternative loan lender.
  • Alternative loans must be paid back to the lender, including principal and interest.

Federal Direct Loan Program
Information about the Federal Direct Loan Program.

Federal Direct Loan Entrance Counseling
First time borrowers at Harper College must complete this Entrance Counseling session before receiving federal loan funds.

Federal Direct Loan Master Promissory Note
Borrowers must sign a MPN for subsidized and unsubsidized Federal Direct Stafford and Federal Direct PLUS loans.

Federal Student Aid
Log in to access a history of your federal student loans.

Federal Direct Loan Exit Counseling
Borrowers at Harper College must complete the Exit Counseling session when graduating, leaving their educational program, or dropping below half-time enrollment of less than 6 hours in a term.

Federal Direct Loan Repayment Plans
Learn about the various repayment plans and use the Loan Simulator to calculate your monthly payment.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

Learn about the PSLF Program and see if you might qualify.  PSLF forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer.


Explore Financial Aid and Scholarships


Last Updated: 3/10/23