Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships
When borrowing student loans, it is important to understand that a loan is money that you have to pay back. Some loans have fees associated with them and almost all loans accrue interest. You'll want to make sure that you read the terms and conditions of the loan before borrowing to make sure that you're getting the best bang for your buck!
There are several loan opportunities available to you:
- Federal Student Loans:
- Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans
- Parent PLUS Loans for dependent students
- Graduate PLUS Loans for graduate students
- Other Loan Opportunities:
- Private Loans
- California Dream Loan
- Nursing Loan
- Emergency Loan
Federal Student Loan Opportunities:
Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans
The subsidized and unsubsidized loans are federal student loans that are applied for through completing the FAFSA. One of the biggest myths about financial aid is that you (or your parents) make too much money and won’t be eligible for any aid, and this is where student loans come in – if your family makes quite a bit of money, chances are you’ll still be eligible for a student loan. While this can be a good option, please remember to borrow responsibly, as this is money that has to be paid back.
Both loans also allow you a six-month grace period after you graduate or drop below half time before you have to start making payments.
Both the subsidized loans and unsubsidized loans have an origination fee of 1.057% (for loans that have their first disbursement after October 1, 2020, but before October 1, 2021), which is taken out of your loan before it is disbursed. This is why, for example, your account might show your loan for the semester as $1,000, but the actual amount posted is for $990 – because the origination fee was taken out.
As an undergraduate student, the interest rate for both of these loans (with a first disbursement on or after July 1, 2020, but before July 1, 2021) is 2.75%. This is a fixed interest rate, which means that it will not change for the life of the loan.
As a graduate or professional student, you are not eligible for the subsidized loan and the interest rate for the unsubsidized loan (with a first disbursement on or after July 1, 2020, but before July 1, 2021) is 4.30%, again, at a fixed rate.
Both loans have a limit to how much you can receive in one academic year, and over the course of your college career – Check out the table below to see what these limits are!
|Dependent Students||Independent Students|
|Annual Loan Limit||Lifetime Loan Limit||Annual Loan Limit||Lifetime Loan Limit|
$5,500 (max $3,500 in subsidized loan)
$31,000 (max $23,000 in subsidized loan)
$9,500(max $3,500 in subsidized loan)
$57,500 (max $23,000 in subsidized loan)
$6,500(max $4,500 in subsidized loan)
$10,500(max $4,500 in subsidized loan)
$7,500(max $5,500 in subsidized loan)
$12,500(max $5,500 in subsidized loan)
$20,500(ineligible for subsidized loan)
What is the difference between the subsidized loan and the unsubsidized loan? There are a couple of differences between the subsidized loan and the unsubsidized loan:
- For the subsidized loan, the government is paying the interest accrued on your behalf while you are enrolled at least half time. Once you graduate or drop below half time/six credits, interest begins accruing on this loan. This means that if you were to borrow $2,000 today, you’d owe $2,000 when it is time to start making payments.
- For the unsubsidized loan, you are responsible for the accruing interest from the day it disburses. This means that if you were to borrow $2,000 today, you’d owe $2,000 + interest when it is time to start making payments.
- The subsidized loan is a need-based loan. This means that not everyone is eligible for this type of loan. In order to determine if a student has any “need”, a school would take your expected family contribution (EFC) from the FAFSA and subtract it from their school’s determined cost of attendance. If your EFC is less than the school’s cost of attendance, you have need – if your EFC exceeds the school’s cost of attendance, you do not have need. Because the cost of attendance varies from school to school, it is possible that you could have subsidized loan eligibility at one school, but not another.
- If you are receiving the subsidized loan, the U.S. Department of Education tracks your progress on completing your degree to ensure that it is completed within 150% of the published program length. Failure to complete your program in this timeframe can cause you to lose the subsidy on the loan and it will accrue the interest as if it were an unsubsidized loan.
This means, if your program is published as a two-year program, you’d have three years to complete it without losing the subsidy. If your program was a four-year program, you’d have six years.
If you’re borrowing the subsidized or unsubsidized loan for the first time, you’ll need to complete two (2) items for the U.S. Department of Education before it will disburse – (1) the Direct Loan Entrance Counseling and (2) the Master Promissory Note (MPN).
The Direct Loan Entrance Counseling is a quick online course that talks about how borrowing student loans works, borrowing wisely, and repayment plans. The MPN is your signature confirming that you will pay these funds back. In most cases, if you do both of these, they are good for up to 10 years. There may be instances, however, when you may be asked to complete them again.
Both the Direct Loan Entrance Counseling and the Master Promissory Note (MPN) can be done at studentloans.gov.
Fresno State's default rate on Federal Student Loans is 4.7% as of Fiscal Year 2017.
We are proud to say that this is well below the national default rate of 9.7% for the Fiscal Year 2017!
For more information on subsidized and unsubsidized loans, please check out the Federal Student Aid page. There is a lot of great information about changes in interest rates and origination fees, how interest accrues, options for repayment plans, etc. Another really great tool is the Repayment Estimator, where you can manually enter, or log in to view your current loans, to see what your payments will look like.
Federal PLUS Loan for Parents and Graduate Students
PLUS Loans are federal student loans to supplement the other aid that you have received. There are two different kinds of PLUS loans – the Parent PLUS loan and the Graduate PLUS Loan.
The Parent PLUS loan is a loan in your parent’s name on behalf of your education. You must be a dependent student (meaning, your parent’s information is required on the FAFSA) for your parent to be eligible for this loan. Only your [biological or legal] parent or step-parent may apply for this loan. This loan does not transfer to you, the student, after it has been processed, it remains in the parent’s name and is the parent borrower’s responsibility to pay back.
The Graduate PLUS loan is just that – a PLUS loan for graduate students only.
You or your parent may qualify to have the principal payment on the PLUS loan deferred, but you’ll want to work with your loan servicer.
The Parent PLUS and Graduate PLUS both have an origination fee of 4.228% (for loans that have their first disbursement after October 1, 2020, but before October 1, 2021), which is taken out of your loan before it is disbursed. This is why, for example, your account might show your loan for the semester as $1,000, but the actual amount posted is for $990 – because the origination fee was taken out.
The PLUS loan has an interest rate of 5.30% for loans that have a first disbursement on or after July 1, 2020, but before July 1, 2021. This is a fixed interest rate, which means that it will not change for the life of the loan.
Currently, there is no limit to how much you or your parent can borrow over the course of your college career. However, universities do have the right to limit or deny processing if the borrower has borrowed an excessive amount of student loans under Section 479A of the Higher Education Act. While there is no lifetime limit on the PLUS loans, we cannot award you more financial aid total (all aid combine) than what has been determined as your cost of attendance for attending Fresno State.
If the PLUS loan is an option you or your parent would like to pursue, you can apply for it at studentloans.gov under the respective tab – Graduate/Professional Students or Parent Borrowers, depending on the PLUS loan that you are applying for.
What to do once you or your parent have been approved:
- Parent PLUS Loans will automatically be reviewed and processed. Please keep an eye on your Student Center in case additional information is needed to process your loan.
- Graduate PLUS Loans: you’ll want to complete our Graduate PLUS Loan request form and submit it to our office – This form is located under our Forms section of the website. Once we receive this form, we will begin processing the PLUS loan
You or your parent may need to complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and/or Loan Counseling, specific to the PLUS loan that you are requesting. If this is needed, they can be completed at studentloans.gov, under the respective tab – Graduate/Professional Students or Parent Borrowers, depending on the PLUS loan that you are applying for.
Please note that you must complete the FAFSA for the appropriate academic year in order to receive the PLUS loan.
When applying for the Parent or Graduate PLUS loan, a credit check is required. Once you or your parent complete the application, you’ll know right away if the credit was approved or declined. Here are the options following your credit decision:
- If your credit was approved: The borrower (you, the student, for a Graduate PLUS loan or your parent, for the Parent PLUS loan) will want to complete our Parent PLUS Loan Request Form and submit it to our office for processing. NOTE: We will not process the PLUS Loan until we have received this form.
- If your credit was declined: You have a couple options if your credit was declined. They are as follows:
- You/Your parent can pursue an endorser. An endorser is someone who agrees to repay the PLUS loan if the borrower becomes delinquent in making payments or defaults on the loan and cannot be the student on whose behalf a parent obtains a PLUS loan. Click here to Endorse a Direct PLUS loan. If your endorser is approved, you’ll want to complete the Parent PLUS Loan Request form from our website and submit it to the office.
- You/Your parent can appeal the credit decision with the U.S. Department of Education. Click here to appeal your credit decision.
- Parent PLUS Loan ONLY: If the credit was declined on your Parent PLUS loan, you, the student, can request an additional unsubsidized loan. This additional unsubsidized loan may be up to $5,000 and is dependent on your borrowing history and grade level. To request the additional unsubsidized loan, please submit this form to our office.
Other Loan Opportunities
Private loans are just that – loans that are pursued with private, or outside lenders. These are not federal student loans that come from the FAFSA. Usually private loans required a credit check and depending on your credit history, sometimes a co-signer.
Fresno State cannot recommend one lender over another. When pursuing a private loan, you’ll want to make sure to look at things like the interest rates, origination fees, other fees, repayment plans, etc. to make sure that you are getting the best bang for your buck. These loans can sometimes be more expensive than the federal student loans.
The private lender will dictate how much you are eligible to borrow from them, however, keep in mind that we cannot award a total amount of financial aid beyond what has been determined as your cost of attendance for attending Fresno State. If you have received other financial aid awards through scholarships, FAFSA, or other avenues, you might want to check with us to see how much remaining eligibility you have for a private loan. This could help you determine whether or not the costs outweigh the benefits.
Keep in mind that federal regulations require us to hold the disbursement on a private loan for 14 days before disbursing, just in case you change your mind on borrowing.
If you decide to pursue a private loan, once you have been approved with your lender, you’ll want to submit a Private Loan Request form and submit it to our office as soon as possible – This form is located under our Form section of the website. Once we receive this form, we will be able to begin processing the private loan.
The California DREAM Loan is a subsidized loan program for undergraduate students with a valid California Dream Act Application and a valid AB540 affidavit to help cover the costs of attending Fresno State.
To be eligible for this loan, you have to:
- Complete the California Dream Act Application by March 2
- Demonstrate financial need
- Be meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements
- Be enrolled in at least six units
DREAM Loans are awarded based on funding availability. If you meet the above requirements, you will be awarded and then you will need to contact Melissa Waite, firstname.lastname@example.org, to accept the loan and complete your promissory note and entrance counseling. Receipt of the loan one year does not guarantee an award for the next year.
Eligible students may borrow up to $4,000 per year, not to exceed $20,000 over their undergraduate career.
The California DREAM Loan has an interest rate of 4.529% for loans disbursing prior to July 1, 2020. For DREAM Loans disbursing on or after July 1, 2020, the interest rate will be 2.75%. Just like the subsidized loan, it does not accrue interest while you are enrolled at least half-time.
Repayment of the California Dream Loan begins at the end of a 6-month grace period. The grace period begins once you graduate, leave school, or enroll less than half-time.
CA Dream Loan borrowers have a standard repayment and income based repayment plan available.
For more information visit heartland.ecsi.net. Under Download Forms search for California State University (Dream Loans).
The U.S. Department of Health Services offers the Nursing Loan Program to students pursuing a baccalaureate degree in nursing that have demonstrated need.
Students can be eligible for up to $2,500 for the first two years of their program and then $4,000 for their final year. The total amount that a student can borrow cannot exceed $17,000 for the duration of their academic career.
The Nursing Loan has a fixed 5% interest rate. It acts similar to the subsidized loan in the sense that it does not accrue interest while you are enrolled at least half time. There is a nine month grace period from the point of graduation, leaving school, or enrolling less than half time before you must begin repayment.
To be considered for this award, nursing students must complete the FAFSA for that academic year. If you're interested in having your eligibility reviewed for this award, please contact our office at 559.278.2186 or email@example.com.
Once you’ve been awarded a nursing loan, you’ll want to contact Melissa Waite, firstname.lastname@example.org, to take care of the necessary paperwork and accept the loan. Funds are limited for this program, so loans that are not accepted within 30 days of awarding or the beginning of the semester, whichever is later, may be cancelled. Nursing loans that exceed the lifetime limit will be cancelled.
The Emergency Loan is a short-term loan program to assist with unexpected educational expenses. This is a semester loan that must be paid back by the end of the current semester or the date of your contract, whichever is earlier. This loan is applied for and awarded through Student Accounts/Cashier Services.
- You may request up to $600 for students waiting for financial aid awards or $400 for students paying the loan back through their personal employment.
- The loan must be paid by the contract due date. There are no penalties for paying the loan back early and monthly payments can be made. Again, the final payment must be no later than the contract due date.
- The interest rate is 12% per annum (1% per month).
- You are eligible for one loan per semester.
To be eligible:
- You must be enrolled at least half time in a regular program with California State University, Fresno
- You must have sufficient and verifiable resources to repay the loan
- You do not have an outstanding short-term loan, a negative Emergency Loan repayment history, or a dishonored check history with the University or Foundation Offices.
- You do not have an outstanding debt to the University
To apply, please contact the Emergency Loan Coordinator, Melissa Waite, at email@example.com for instructions.
If your application is denied, you are eligible to petition for reconsideration. Reconsideration is through a committee consisting of representatives from various student services offices.
Applications are processed electronically and checks are generally available after 3:00pm two days following the approval of your application and completion of the promissory note. A California State University, Fresno Student ID must be presented to the California State University Foundation Office to claim your check. Their location is 4910 N. Chestnut, Fresno, CA 93726-1852