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Federal Direct Loans are available for you to borrow funds to pay for your college expenses. You must repay these loans to the federal government, including principal and interest. Borrow only what you need.

Harper College does not award federal student 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 7.3 percent in FY2017. The national Cohort Default Rate for 2-3 public institutions was 15.2 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.

Follow these three steps to request a Federal Direct Loan.

Step 1: Complete Your Estimated Budget
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

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 2017 and defaulted on their federal student loans from October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2019.

The three-year CDR for Harper College was 7.3 percent in FY2017.

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

  • Based on financial need.
  • Interest is subsidized (paid) by the federal government while you are enrolled at least six (6) credit hours, during qualifying six-month grace periods, and during authorized periods of deferment. Subsidized loans with a first disbursement between July 1, 2012 and July 1, 2014 are not eligible for the federal interest subsidy during the six-month grace period.
  • Interest rate for Direct Subsidized Loans with a first disbursement date on or after July 1, 2020 and by June 30, 2021 is fixed for the life of the loan at 2.75%.

Direct Unsubsidized Loan

  • Not based on financial need.
  • Interest is paid by the borrower at all times; it accrues from the time of disbursement and can be paid incrementally or capitalized (added to the unpaid principal loan amount) after the six-month grace period, prior to the start of repayment.
  • Interest rate for Direct Unsubsidized Loans with a first disbursement date on or after July 1, 2020 and by June 30, 2021 is fixed for the life of the loan at 2.75%.

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).

On July 1, 2013, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) introduced a maximum period of time limitation (measured in academic years) on Direct Subsidized Loan eligibility for first-time borrowers. In general, you may not receive Direct Subsidized Loans for more than 150% of the published length of your program. First-time borrowers on or after July 1, 2013 are subject to this provision. A first-time borrower is one who did not have an outstanding balance of principal interest on a Direct Loan or on a FFEL Program Loan on or after July 1, 2013. Download additional information from ED.PDF.

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, 2020 and before October 1, 2021.

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 2.75 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

$ 3,819

77 Months

$ 4,500


$ 50

$ 5,045

101 Months

$ 5,500


$ 52

$ 6,297

120 Months / 10 years

$ 6,500


$ 62

$ 7,442

120 Months / 10 years

$ 9,500


$ 91

$ 10,877

120 Months / 10 years

$ 10,500


$ 100

$ 12,022

120 Months / 10 years

* The interest rate is rounded to 2.80% for these calculations.

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.

Federal Direct PLUS Loans are available to parents who want to borrow funds to help pay for their dependent student's educational expenses. 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, 2020 and by June 30, 2021 has a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan of 5.30%.
  • is assessed a federal loan origination fee of 4.228% for PLUS Loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 2020 and before October 1, 2021. The origination fee is deducted at the time of disbursement.
  • is not subsidized by the federal government.
  • total amount cannot exceed the Cost of Attendance, less other financial aid received.
  • repayment begins in approximately 60 days after the loan is disbursed.
  • 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; and for the initial loan, complete a Direct PLUS Loan Application that includes a credit check, and a Direct PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN) online.

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.

To learn more, go to Federal Direct PLUS Loan.

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.


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