There are many financial aid programs offered by the federal Department of Education that can help students and families in financial need. One of those that is often overlooked is the Perkins loan program.

This program provides low interest loans (5% rate) both for college and graduate school to students with “exceptional financial need.” It is administered by the school as the “lender” and that is who is repaid after graduation. Not all schools participate in this program, so you should check with your school’s financial aid office to see if they do.

How Do I Know If I Am Eligible?

You are eligible for this program if you are

  • an undergraduate, graduate, or professional student with exceptional financial need;
  • enrolled in school full or part time; and
  • attending a school that participates in the program

How Much Can I Borrow?

The amount you can borrow in this program depends on several factors, including

  • your financial need
  • the amount of other aid you receive
  • the availability of Perkins funds at your school

This last one is very important, and because of it, you should apply for this loan as early as possible because once the funds run out, you will not get any of it, even if you qualify.

As to the amount you would receive, undergraduates can receive up to $5,500 per year, with a total cap of $27,500. Graduate or professional students (e.g. law or medical school), they can receive up to $8,000 per year, with a total cap of $60,000 (which includes the amount you received as an undergraduate).

More Information

If you are looking for more information about federal financial aid for college, then download my free book, Applying for Federal Financial Aid: The Definitive Guide for Students and Parents.

For more information about what happens after you graduate, get my free book, I Graduated; Now What? A Guide to Dealing with Your Student Loans.

You can also access the latest news on student loans, get answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and read articles in my Library. Continue to educate yourself as you go through the process of making smart decisions about college financing!

Steven J. Richardson
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Bankruptcy, Collections, Student Loan, DUI and Traffic Court attorney in Woodbury, NJ.