University of South Carolina

Financial Aid & Scholarships


Loans FAQ


Federal Direct Student Loans

Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students are eligible to receive funds from the Federal Direct Student Loan Program if they meet the general eligibility requirements as determined by the FAFSA. Eligibility requirements include the following:

  1. Students must be enrolled at least half-time as a degree seeking student
  2. Students must meet satisfactory academic progress
  3. Students must NOT currently be in default on any previously disbursed federal loans or owe a refund to a federal student aid program

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To qualify for a Federal Direct Subsidized Student Loan, an undergraduate student must have unmet financial need after all other gift aid is awarded. Financial need is determined by the estimated Cost of Attendance for the award period minus your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) for the same period.

Gift aid is normally considered to be any assistance program a student may receive as payment towards educational expenses that does not require future repayment, such as scholarships and grants. A student who has no remaining financial need may qualify for a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Student Loan to replace all or a portion of his or her expected family contribution.

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Yes. The U.S. Department of Education charges a loan fee (also known as an origination fee) on all direct loans. The loan fee is a percentage of the amount of each loan the borrower receives and is subtracted from each loan disbursement.

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Federal Direct Student Loan Limits (Effective July 1, 2008)
Freshman (0-29 credit hours) Sophomore (30-59 credit hours) Junior/Senior (60+ credit hours) Aggregate Limit
Dependent Undergraduate $5,500, no more than $3,500 of which can be subsidized $6,500, no more than $4,500 of which can be subsidized $7,500, no more than $5,500 of which can be subsidized $31,000, no more than $23,000 of which can be subsidized
Independent Undergraduate (and Dependents with PLUS Denials) $9,500, no more than $3,500 of which can be subsidized $10,500, no more than $4,500 of which can be subsidized $12,500, no more than $5,500 of which can be subsidized $57,500, no more than $23,000 of which can be subsidized

Graduate students may borrow $20,500 annually. The graduate aggregate loan limit is $138,500, no more than $65,500 of which can be subsidized.

Please note that we encourage students to borrow responsibly. Visit this loan repayment calculator to learn what you may expect your payments to be based on the payment plan you select.

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The Master Promissory Note (MPN) is a legal document in which you promise to repay your loans and any accrued interest and fees to the U.S. Department of Education. It also explains the terms and conditions of your loans. To learn more, click here.

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Entrance Loan Counseling will explain what a Direct Loan is and how the loan process works, how to manage your education expenses, what other financial resources to consider to help pay for your education, and your rights and responsibilities as a borrower. If this is your first time receiving a direct loan, then you may click here to complete entrance loan counseling.

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We will award you the maximum amount of Federal Direct Loan based on your eligibility. You may accept the loan amount you wish to receive by logging onto to SSC, choosing Financial Aid, Award, and Award for Aid Year. Then select Accept Award Offer and follow the instructions. You may also send your request via e-mail to our office at uscfaid@mailbox.sc.edu.

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Yes. An option to combine your separate federal student loans under one repayment exists with the federal loan consolidation program. There are pros and cons associated with loan consolidation.

For more information regarding loan consolidation, please visit the Federal Student Aid page on Loan Consolidation.

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Federal Parent PLUS Loan

To receive a PLUS Loan, an applicant must be the parent (biological, adoptive, or in some cases, stepparent) of a dependent undergraduate student enrolled at least half-time at a participating school; and meet the general eligibility requirements for federal student aid.

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Yes. Students are required to complete the FAFSA prior to being considered for a PLUS loan.

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The maximum PLUS Loan a parent may borrow is the student's cost of education as determined by the school, less any other aid the student may receive (including grants, loans, and scholarships).

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We will award the maximum PLUS Loan for which you are eligible, or the amount you requested during the PLUS Request Process, whichever is lowest. If you choose to decline your loan or wish to reduce the amount you wish to accept once it is awarded, please contact our office.

If you wish to increase the PLUS Loan, your parent may reapply through studentloans.gov.

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The PLUS Loan enters repayment once the loan is fully disbursed. A parent borrower may contact their loan servicer to request a deferment while the student or the borrower is enrolled at least half-time and for an additional six months after the student ceases to be enrolled at least half-time. If the loan is deferred, interest will continue to accrue during the deferment.

The loan servicer will notify your parent when the first payment is due.

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The parent borrower may want to appeal the decision or reapply with an endorser who is willing to cosign. If the appeal is denied or the parent does not have a cosigner, the student may be considered for additional unsubsidized loan funds.

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Federal Graduate PLUS Loan

To receive a Direct PLUS Loan, you must be a graduate or professional degree student enrolled at least half-time in a degree seeing program as well as meet the general eligibility requirements for federal student aid.

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Yes. Students must complete the FAFSA and have their eligibility for a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Student Loan determined before a Federal Graduate PLUS Loan can be certified.

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Yes. Loan counseling will provide information regarding your rights and responsibilities as a borrower and it is required before you may receive the first disbursement of your Federal Graduate PLUS Loan. You may complete this requirement at the same time you complete your Federal Direct Loan Entrance Counseling.

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Students may borrow an amount up to their cost of education as determined by the school, less any other aid the student may receive (including grants, loans, and scholarships).

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We will award the maximum PLUS Loan funds for which you are eligible, or the amount you requested during the PLUS Request Process, whichever is lowest. If you choose to decline your loan or wish to reduce the amount you wish to accept once it is awarded, please contact our office.

If you wish to increase the PLUS loan, you may re-apply through studentloans.gov.

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Your Direct PLUS Loan enters repayment once your loan is fully disbursed; however, if you are a graduate or professional student, your loan will be placed into deferment while you are enrolled at least half-time and for an additional six months after you cease to be enrolled at least half-time.

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Private Educational Student Loans

You may apply for a private educational loan if you are an undergraduate, graduate, or professional student who is enrolled in a degree or certificate program and meeting the university Satisfactory Academic Progress policy.

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Interest rates and fees can vary widely between lenders and even among borrowers of the same lender. Many lenders offer borrower benefits that can reduce the principal or interest on a private educational student loan. Be sure to look carefully at the terms and conditions when applying for this type of loan, ask questions, and be confident in your knowledge of the loan terms before you agree to borrow.

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No; however, we strongly encourage students to complete a FAFSA and accept any federal aid that may be offered as a result. Federal loan programs typically have better loan terms and conditions.

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Private educational loan borrowers are required to complete, sign, and return an Applicant Self-Certification Form to their lender before loan funds can be disbursed. This form is intended to promote informed borrowing and will give you information about financial aid as well as provide your lender with information about your educational expenses and other aid. You should receive this form as part of your application packet when applying for a private educational loan. If you should need a copy of this form, you may contact your lender or our office. Please note that the Applicant Self-Certification Form does not replace school certification of your private educational loan.

The Applicant Self-Certification Form requests personal information from the borrower as well as your cost of attendance for the period of enrollment covered by the loan and estimated financial assistance. The form then requests that you deduct your estimated financial aid from the estimated cost of attendance, which will give you an estimated loan amount.

To help you complete this form, we are providing you with the following information that will serve as a guide.

To Complete Item A of Section 2 - Student's Cost of Attendance for the Period Covered by the Loan

Locate your residency and housing status and use the amount in the appropriate box.

Resident Students
On Campus Off Campus Living With Parents
Undergraduate $25,985 $27,024 $20,959
Graduate $24,762 $24,762 $16,182

Non-Resident Students
On Campus Off Campus
On Campus $44,383 $45,422
Off Campus $31,548 $31,548

These amounts are for the entire year and are updated annually. If you are requesting a loan for one term, divide these numbers in half.

To Complete Item B of Section 2 - Student's Cost of Attendance for the Period Covered by the Loan

To determine your estimated financial assistance, you will need to log onto SSC, choose Financial Aid, Awards, and Award of the Aid Year. Select the Award Overview tab for your University aid the Resources/Additional Information tab to see your non-University aid.

You will then add together all of your financial aid awards, which will give you your estimated financial aid. If you are not receiving any financial assistance for the time period covered by the loan, enter zero in this item.

To Complete Item C of Section 2

Subtract item B from item A and this is an estimation of how much loan assistance you may be eligible to receive. Enter this amount in item C.

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Interest rates on private educational loans vary from student-to-student and lender-to-lender. Please consult your lender to determine the interest rate associated with your loan.

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There may be fees associated with origination, disbursement, or repayment as well as a repayment finance charge. Please contact your lender directly for specific fees.

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Students may borrow an amount up to their cost of education as determined by the school, less any other aid the student may receive (including grants, loans, and scholarships).

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It may take up to seven business days after your lender sends the school certification request until it shows as an award on SSC. The lender or the school may request additional information during the credit, application, or certification process. Make sure that you have completed all the necessary forms with your lender, including the promissory note, all disclosures, and the Applicant Self-Certification Form.

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We will award the maximum private educational loan for which you are eligible, or the amount you requested when you applied, whichever is lowest. If you choose to decline your loan or wish to reduce the amount you wish to accept once it is awarded, please contact our office.

If you wish to increase your private loan, you may reapply by contacting your lender.

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Repayment terms will be determined by your lender. Borrowers may be eligible to defer payments until they graduate or cease half-time enrollment, but are strongly encouraged to make payments on interest while in school since interest will be capitalized (added to your balance) when you begin making loan payments.

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South Carolina Teachers and Career Changers Loans

Once South Carolina Student Loan Corporation approves your application, we will be notified and add your loan to SSC.

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Freshmen and sophomores may borrow up to $2,500 per year with the SC Teacher's Loan. Juniors, seniors, graduate students, and professional students may borrow up to $5,000 per year. The aggregate limit for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students is $20,000.

Career changers may borrow up to $15,000 per year and up to an aggregate maximum of $60,000.

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Yes. We encourage you to apply for both loans when you initially complete your application. You may only receive funding from one program but if funding runs out for the Career Changer's program, you may still be eligible to receive the SC Teacher's Loan.

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We will award the maximum loan amount for which you are eligible for your grade level, or the amount you requested when you applied, whichever is lowest. If you choose to decline your loan or wish to reduce the amount you wish to accept once it is awarded, please contact our office.

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If you decide not to teach, you will have to pay the loan back in full. The interest rate will equal the maximum interest rate on the Federal Direct Loan, plus 2%.

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