For many students and families, educational loans are a necessary part of the process of paying for college. The Financial Aid Office offers and certifies loans for students, as well as federal Direct PLUS loans for parents of undergraduates. All of these loan programs offer low interest rates, deferment and forbearance options, and a maximum repayment period between 10 and 25 years.

Federal Perkins Loans

Perkins loans are low-interest loans for both graduate and undergraduate students, funded by the federal government and administered by The College of Idaho. Your eligibility is determined using your financial aid application. The student loan program with the best available terms is the federal Perkins loan. If your aid application shows that you have sufficient computed financial need, we may offer you a Perkins loan as part of your financial aid package. The pool of available Perkins loan funds is limited, so not all aid applicants can be offered Perkins loans.

Federal Direct Loans

The federal Direct loan is the most widely-used loan for college students and is available to both graduate and undergraduate students. There are two types of federal Direct loans and your eligibility for both is determined using your financial aid application.

  • Direct subsidized  loans are interest-free while you are enrolled in college at least half-time.
  • Direct unsubsidized loans accrue interest while you are enrolled. You can choose to pay the interest each month while in school, or allow the interest to accumulate.

Borrowing limits for each academic year depend on your class level:

  • $5,500 Freshmen (maximum $3,500 may be subsidized)
  • $6,500 Sophomores (maximum $4,500 may be subsidized)
  • $7,500 Juniors/Seniors (maximum $5,500 may be subsidized)
  • $20,500 Graduate Students—Unsubsidized

Entrance Counseling

All federal Direct loan borrowers are required to complete an entrance counseling requirement. We recommend that you complete this requirement online. The entrance counseling session provides you with information about your rights and responsibilities as a borrower. After reading the information, you will be quizzed on your knowledge.

Note: If you completed the entrance counseling requirement in a prior academic year at The College of Idaho, you do not need to complete the requirement again.

The College of Idaho Financial Aid Office will be notified when you have completed your online entrance counseling. You will not receive any disbursements of your federal Direct loan until you have completed your entrance counseling requirement. To complete the requirement, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Direct Loan website at
  2. Click on the green "Sign In" button.
  3. Log in with your Social Security number and FAFSA PIN number. You will see a screen with several options.
  4. Click on "Complete Entrance Counseling." Follow the prompts until you reach the School and Loan Information screen.
  5. For School State, select IDAHO.
  6. For School Name, select THE COLLEGE OF IDAHO.
  7. Work through the entrance counseling information, responding to the quiz questions along the way. When you have finished, The College of Idaho Financial Aid Office will be notified. If you have questions about the Entrance Counseling process, you can call Direct Loan Applicant Services at (800) 557-7394. 

NOTE: If you have not already done so, please also complete your federal Direct loan Master Promissory Note (MPN).

Applying for a Loan

1) Accept Your Loan on web advisor

  • If the loan is included in your award you can accept in Web Advisor. Under the Student Center tab, in the Finances section, select "Accept/Decline Awards." You can accept the maximum amount, specify a lower amount, or decline the loan.
  • If you do not have the loan included in your award, submit a request to
  • If you have not applied for financial aid, complete the Applying for Aid process.

2) Complete Your Master Promissory Note

Note: If you completed a Direct Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN) in a prior academic year at The College of Idaho, you do not need to complete a new MPN.  Your existing MPN covers your Direct Loan borrowing for up to ten years.

  1. Go to the Direct Loan website at
  2. Click on the green "Sign In" button.
  3. Log in with your Social Security number and FAFSA PIN number.
  4. Click on "Complete Master Promissory Note."
  5. Click on "Subsidized/Unsubsidized."
  6. Complete all required fields (indicated by red asterisk) in the Personal Information section.
  7. Continue with Steps 2, 3 and 4, including the electronic signature.  You will have the opportunity to print a copy of your completed, signed MPN.  The College of Idaho Financial Aid Office will be notified when you have completed and signed your MPN.               

If you have questions about completing your MPN, you can call Direct Loan Applicant Services at (800) 557-7394.               

Note: If you have not already done so, please complete your Direct Loan Entrance Counseling requirement on this same website.

3) Receiving Your Loan Funds

Loans are generally divided evenly over the 2 semesters (Fall/Spring) of the academic year. If your promissory note is complete and you have enrolled for courses, your loan funds will be applied to your student account at the beginning of each semester.

Federal Direct PLUS Loans

The federal Direct PLUS program is a popular financing option for graduate students, and parents of undergraduate students.

  • Borrow any loan amount up to the total student budget determined by The College of Idaho, less any other resources.
  • 7.21% interest rate beginning when the loan disburses (2014-2015 academic year)
  • 4.288% origination fee will be deducted from each disbursement (4.292% if the first disbursement date is on or after 10/1/2014)
  • A credit check is conducted when you begin the loan application process. For more information about the credit check please visit the FAQ section of
  • Undergraduate students are required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid ( in order for their parents to use the Direct PLUS loan program.
  • Undergraduates whose parents do not qualify for a Direct PLUS loan can borrow additional federal Direct loan funds.

Other Loans

There are several other educational loan programs that can provide supplementary funding for students.

Private/Alternative Student Loans

Private Loans vs. Federal Loans

Many banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions offer private (non-federal) student loans, sometimes called alternative loans. Private loan programs may offer interest rates and terms that are competitive with those of federal loans. However, as you consider your borrowing options, you should keep in mind that federal student loans are required by law to provide a range of flexible repayment options, including income-based repayment plans, and loan forgiveness benefits, which private loans are not required to provide. Also, federal Direct loans are available to students regardless of income.

Loan Repayment

Learn more about loan consolidation, loan forgiveness, and defaulting on student loans. It is important for student borrowers to know loan balance amounts and repayment options both before and after graduation. We encourage students to work with their loan servicers and the U.S. Department of Education to stay informed about their loans. Students should make regular monthly payments on loans in order to maintain a good credit rating. Complete loan repayment information through the U.S. Department of Education is available at Repay Your Loans (

Exit Counseling

Upon ceasing enrollment and prior to beginning repayment, you will be required to complete exit counseling if you have received any of the following:

  • Subsidized/Unsubsidized Stafford or Graduate PLUS loan through the Direct Loan (DL) and/or Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) programs
  • Federal TEACH Grant
  • Federal Perkins loan
  • University Loan

Exit counseling ( will provide information about borrower rights, responsibilities regarding loan repayment, and review the TEACH Grant service requirements. To determine how much you have received in federal loans and/or TEACH Grants, you can use the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to track your funds.

Exit Counseling Sessions for may Graduates

The Financial Aid Office is offering an in-person exit counseling sessions for students who are graduating in May, please watch for an invitation via email. The session will cover information about Direct loans and Perkins loans. The session will last about an hour, and you will have ample opportunity to ask questions.

You do not need to notify the Financial Aid Office upon completion of your exit counseling requirement. However, you are welcome to contact our office with any follow-up questions.

For questions about your individual student loans, you should contact your lender or the current holder of your loan.  To determine the holder of your loan, you should consult NSLDS. Please note that private (non-federal) education loans are not included in NSLDS.

If you encounter difficulties with your lender, you may wish to contact the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Ombudsman. The Ombudsman provides borrowers with information and guidance to resolve concerns about their student loans. As an advocate, the Ombudsman can research problems and determine if you have been treated fairly. Here is the contact information for the Ombudsman’s office:

U.S. Department of Education

FSA Ombudsman Group

830 First Street, N.E., Mail Stop 5144

Washington, D.C.  20202-5144 

(877) 577-2575