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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The interest rate for undergraduate subsidized loans disbursed between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013, is fixed at 3.4%. All unsubsidized loans disbursed during this period have a fixed rate of 6.8%. For the most up-to-date information regarding Federal Direct Student Loan interest rates, please visit the U.S. Department of Education.

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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. Federal Direct Subsidized Student Loans and Federal Direct Unsubsidized Student Loans with a first disbursement on or after March 1, 2013, will have a loan fee of 1.05%.

Due to the origination fee, please note that the loan amount listed on your account does not necessarily reflect loan fees deducted prior to disbursement from the lender. For example, if your award is $1,000 and your loan origination fee is 1%, the net disbursement will be $990.

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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. Beginning with the 2012-2013 fiscal year, graduate students are no longer eligible for Federal Direct Subsidized Student Loans.

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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Beginning in Fall 2010, if you receive a Direct Student Loan at USC, your lender is the U.S. Department of Education through the William D. Ford Direct Student Loan Program.

If you are a continuing student who received a loan in the past or if you are a transfer student and received a federal student loan through another institution, you may review your loans by accessing the National Student Loan Data System.

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The Master Promissory Note (MPN) is a binding, legal document which outlines the terms and conditions of a loan. All new borrowers must sign a promissory note with the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program before you may use the funds to pay your university fees or receive a Financial Aid Refund. To learn more, click here.

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Entrance loan counseling is a process that will explain your rights and responsibilities as a new direct loan 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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According to federal regulations, your student loan must be issued in multiple disbursements during the academic year. If you plan to enroll for fall and spring terms, your loan will be issued in two equal disbursements (one disbursement per term). If you plan to enroll for only one term, your student loan will be prorated and issued to you in one disbursement.

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We will award you the maximum amount of Federal Direct Student Loan funds based on your eligibility. You may choose to fully accept or fully decline your loan amount by going to SSC, choosing Financial Aid, Award, and Award for Aid Year. Then select Accept Award Offer and reflect your preference. If you wish to reduce the amount which has been awarded, you may do so on the same tab. You may also send your request via e-mail to our office at uscfaid@mailbox.sc.edu.

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To be eligible for a Federal Direct Loan, both graduate and undergraduate students must be enrolled for at least 6 hours of credit in a degree seeking program.

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For seniors in their final semester, the federal student loan must be prorated based on enrollment and the spring disbursement cancelled.

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If your grade level increases during the academic year, you may be eligible for additional federal student loan funds. If you wish to be considered for additional student loan funds, please contact our office.

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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 be eligible for a PLUS loan, an applicant must be the biological or adoptive parent of a dependent student, as defined by the FAFSA. Stepparents are eligible to borrow PLUS loan funds if the student is a member of the stepparent's household and the stepparent's income and assets would be considered when filing the FAFSA. Legal guardians are not considered eligible borrowers.

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The application process for the Federal Parent PLUS Loan may be completed online at studentloans.gov. For more information on the application process, please visit our PLUS Loan page .

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Federal Parent PLUS Loans are credit based; a credit check will be performed during the application process. Parent borrowers must be U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens as well as not be in default on any federal loan or owe a refund to any federal student aid program.

Students must meet general eligibility requirements to receive federal aid in order to be awarded the PLUS loan.

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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 interest rate for the PLUS loan is currently fixed at 7.9%.

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Yes. For PLUS Loans with first disbursements after March1, 2013, there is a 4.20% origination fee.

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Parents may borrow up to the cost of their student's education, as determined each year by our office, minus any other aid the student may receive (grants, loans, scholarships, etc.).

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If a student plans to enroll for fall and spring terms, the PLUS loan will be issued in two equal disbursements (one per term). If a student plans to enroll for only one term, the PLUS loan will be issued in one disbursement and the amount will be determined based on eligibility.

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If your bill has been paid, and you have additional funds available from the PLUS loan, the Financial Aid Refund amount will be mailed from the university to the parent borrower at the address provided on the PLUS loan application. If this address has changed, please contact our office.

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We will award the maximum of PLUS loan funds for which you are eligible, or the amount you requested, whichever is lowest. If you choose to decline your loan or wish to request a lower amount, go to SSC and choose Financial Aid, Awards, and Award for Aid Year. Select Accept Award Offer tab and make your preference known. You may also email your request to us at uscfaid@mailbox.sc.edu.

If you wish to increase the PLUS loan, you may reapply through studentloans.gov. If it has been 90 days since the borrower's last credit check, another will be performed which may have an adverse effect on the borrower's credit rating.

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There is no grace period for PLUS loans. This means that interest begins to accrue at the time of the first disbursement, and payments typically begin within 60 days after the loan has been fully disbursed.

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Yes. Parents may opt to defer repayment until 6 months after the student ceases half-time enrollment. Parents must contact their loan servicer to request this deferment. We strongly encourage parents to make interest payments to avoid the capitalization of accrued interest.

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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

Students who are enrolled or who intend to enroll in graduate or professional programs may apply for this PLUS loan.

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You may complete the application process online at studentloans.gov. For more information on the application process, please visit our PLUS Loan page .

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Borrowers must pass a credit check. If a borrower is denied due to adverse credit history, he or she may appeal the credit decision or reapply with an endorser who is willing to cosign. Additionally, the borrower must meet the general eligibility requirements for federal student aid, such as being a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen as well as not be in default on a federal loan or owe a refund to any federal student aid program.

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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. Students are not required to accept the unsubsidized loan once it has been processed. However, we strongly encourage students to consider the unsubsidized loan before the Federal Graduate PLUS Loan since it has better terms and conditions such as lower interest and fee rates.

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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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The interest rate is currently fixed at 7.9% for the PLUS loan.

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Yes. There is a 4% origination fee associated with all disbursements of the loan.

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Students can borrow an amount up to their cost of education as we determine each year, less any other aid the student may receive (including grants, loans, and scholarships).

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If you plan to enroll for both the fall and spring terms, the PLUS loan will be issued in two equal disbursements (one per term). If you plan to enroll for only one term, your loan will be issued to you in one disbursement.

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We will award the maximum of PLUS loan funds for which you are eligible, or the amount you requested, whichever is lowest. If you choose to decline your loan or wish to request a lower amount, please print a copy of your award letter found on SSC, indicate the changes you would like to make, and return it to our office. You may also email your request to our office at uscfaid@mailbox.sc.edu.

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Repayment for the Graduate PLUS Loan is deferred until 6 months after dropping below half-time enrollment. You are encouraged to make arrangements with your loan servicer to pay the interest while you are in school.

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Private Educational Student Loans

In most cases, the student will be the borrower of a private educational loan. If you decide to apply for a private student loan, please keep in mind that private loans are based on credit, which will affect the interest rate you will be offered and the fees which you will incur. Also, due to instability in the credit market, many students will be required to apply with a cosigner to qualify for credit.

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Direct-to-consumer loans typically do not require school certification, though most lenders do require verification of enrollment. The loans you will find suggested by USC require certification by the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships. We strongly discourage students from obtaining direct-to-consumer loans, as they typically have higher fees and higher interest rates than all other loans.

Students who choose to pursue a direct-to-consumer student loan should protect themselves against predatory lending. Ask questions about fees and interest rates. Ask what will happen once you graduate and think about the affect it will have on your ability to get future credit.

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Interest rates and fees can vary significantly 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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Students will need to apply directly with their lender of choice. The lender will approve or deny credit, generally within a few hours. Once the school receives notice of an approval, it typically takes around 48 hours for the loan to appear on SSC.

Below is a comprehensive list of private student loan lenders our students have used over the past five years. There is no particular order to this list, and there is no significance attached to where a lender falls on the list. Note that some lenders may no longer offer private educational loans. You are not limited to the lenders from this listing. You may want to use a different lender, and you are free to do so. The choice is yours.

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No, however, we strongly encourage students to complete a FAFSA. Federal loan programs typically have better loan terms and conditions.

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As part of new federal regulations, 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 $25,113 $26,316 $20,341
Graduate $24,353 $24,353 $15,901

Non-Resident Students
On Campus Off Campus
On Campus $42,852 $44,055
Off Campus $30,939 $30,939

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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Private student loans can be used for education-related expenses including tuition, books, transportation, and room and board.

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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 up to the cost of their education, as determined each year by our office, minus any other aid the student may receive such as 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 amount of funds for which a student is eligible or your requested amount, whichever is less. If you choose to decline your loan or wish to request a lower amount, go to SSC, choose Financial Aid, Awards, and Award for the Aid Year. Select the Aid Year. Select the Accept Award Offer tab and make your preference known. You may also email your request to us at uscfaid@mailbox.sc.edu.

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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

The South Carolina Teachers Loan Programs were established by the State of South Carolina to help talented and qualified students become teachers. These are loans that may be forgiven after the borrower completes a service commitment in either a critical need subject or geographic area. Funding for the SC Teacher's Loan Program and SC Career Changer's Loan Programs are limited, so apply early. You may only receive funding from one of the programs per year.

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To be eligible for the SC Teacher's Loan:

  • You must be a resident of South Carolina
  • You must be a citizen or permanent resident alien of the United States
  • You must complete an application and sign a promissory note
  • You must be enrolled in a program of teacher education or have expressed intent to enroll in such a program
  • Entering freshmen must have been ranked in the top 40% of their high school graduating class and have an SAT or ACT score equal to or greater than the South Carolina average for the year of high school graduation
  • Enrolled undergraduate students, including freshmen (2nd term of freshman year), must have a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.75 on a 4.0 scale and must have taken and passed the Praxis I Exam. Students with an SAT score of 1100 or greater (1650 or greater for exams taken on or after March 1, 2005) or an ACT score of 24 or greater are exempt from the Praxis I requirement
  • Entering graduate students must have at least a 2.75 grade point average on a 4.0 scale
  • Graduate students who have completed at least one term must have a grade point average of 3.5 or better on a 4.0 scale
  • You must be seeking initial certification in a critical subject area if previously certified to teach

To be eligible for the SC Career Changer's Loan:

  • You must meet the above requirements except the academic requirements which will be waived for the first year
  • You must have possessed a baccalaureate degree for at least three years. This requirement is waived for individuals who are instructional assistants in the South Carolina public school system.
  • You must have been employed full-time for at least three years

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  1. Print a copy of the loan application from SC Student Loan Corporation or obtain a copy from the University's College of Education.
  2. Complete the application and submit it to the College of Education at Wardlaw College (room 113).
  3. The College of Education will complete their portion and send it to the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships.
  4. The Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships will then certify the loan and send it to the SC Student Loan Corporation.

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Once SC 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 (by checking both the SC Teacher's Loan box and the Career Changer's Loan on the same application). You may only receive funding from one program and Career Changer's loan funds usually run out first, so apply early. Applications are available early February. If there is no Career Changer money left, you may still receive the SC Teacher's Loan if funding remains.

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The loan is forgiven at the rate of 20% or $3,000, whichever is greater, for each full year of teaching in a South Carolina public school in a critical subject or geographic area. For a list of these, please refer to SC Student Loan Corporation's website. If you teach in a public South Carolina school in both a critical subject and critical geographic area, your loan will be forgiven at the rate of 33% or $5,000, whichever is greater, for each year of full time teaching.

The subject areas which are critical at the time you apply, or later, will be honored for forgiveness when you begin teaching. A critical geographic area must be officially critical at the time of your employment.

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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 Stafford Loan, plus 2% (currently 8.8%).

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