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Office of Financial Aid
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Federal Student Aid > Federal Student Loans

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Federal Student Aid

Federal Student Loans

To be eligible for any form of federal aid, students must meet several requirements. Click here to learn how to maintain eligibility for federal financial aid.

Federal Perkins Loan
  • Interest rate: 5%, fixed
  • Origination fee: None
  • Grace period: Nine months after graduation or dropping below six credit hours
  • Note: This loan is not automatically awarded. A Perkins Loan Interest Form must be submitted by those wishing to receive this loan. A new interest form must be submitted for every aid year that a student wishes to be considered for Perkins funding. Read below for more information.
The Perkins Loan is a need-based loan that is not automatically awarded to students. Beginning with the 2014-2015 aid year, students will be required to submit a Perkins Loan Interest Form in order to be considered for the Perkins Loan. While it is a small loan, the Perkins Loan has the lowest interest rate of all of the federal loans (5%). It also has the longest grace period of all of the federal loans (nine months), and no origination fees are charged to the student. Interest does not accrue while the student is in school or during their grace period. Perkins Loan amounts vary each year but do not typically exceed $6,000 per academic year. Recipients will be contacted by the TC Office of Financial Aid should they be given the Perkins Loan. A new FAFSA and a new interest form will be required for each aid year that a student wishes to receive the Perkins Loan.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan
  • Interest rate: 6.21% fixed
  • Origination fee: 1.072%
  • Grace period: Six months after graduation or dropping below six credit hours
The Unsubsidized Stafford Loan is not a need-based loan, therefore students' income or assets will not affect the amount for which they are eligible. Generally, it is automatically awarded to students as long as they have not reached their lifetime Stafford borrowing limit of $138,500. This is the second best option of all of the federal loans. It currently has a fixed interest rate of 5.41% and a six-month grace period. Interest will accrue while the student is in school and it will also accrue during the grace period. Each disbursement will have a 1.072% origination fee deducted from the amount that gets accepted. The maximum amount of Stafford Loan per year is $20,500.

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan
  • Interest rate: 7.21% fixed
  • Origination fee: 4.288%
  • Grace period: As of April 2014, the Graduate PLUS Loan has a deferment option for graduate or professional students who are enrolled at least half-time (six or more credit hours per term) and for an additional six months after you cease to be enrolled at least half-time. This applies to new Graduate PLUS Loans only. Students with existing Graduate PLUS Loans will need to contact the loan servicer to ask about their grace period option.
The Graduate PLUS Loan is not a need-based loan, therefore students' income or assets will not affect the amount for which they are eligible. However, students will be unable to receive the Graduate PLUS Loan until their credit is approved on studentloans.gov. Unlike the Stafford Loan, the Graduate PLUS Loan does not have a lifetime limit and students can use the Graduate PLUS Loan to meet their institutional cost of attendance (e.g. if other forms of aid and loans do not cover all of their costs, a student may use Graduate PLUS Loan funding to cover them). The initial offer is generally $20,000-$30,000 per year, but is subject to changed based on enrollment. The Graduate PLUS Loan has a 6.41% fixed interest rate. Interest accrues while the student is in school and during the student's grace period. Each disbursement will have a 4.288% origination fee deducted from the amount that gets accepted.

Students who are denied the Graduate PLUS Loan are eligible to secure an endorser for the loan. This process will be completed on studentloans.gov using the "Endorse a Direct PLUS Loan" option on the left side of the page. Another option would be for the student to provide documentation of extenuating circumstances to Applicant Services showing that the situation causing the unsatisfactory credit decision was resolved. Contact Applicant Services at 1-800-557-7394. Click here for detailed instructions on what to do if your credit for the Graduate PLUS Loan has been denied.

We encourage students to view their lender information and borrowing history by checking the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). Directions on how to accept your aid can be found on this page.