Office of Financial Aid
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Undergraduate Direct Loans

What are Direct Loans?
The Federal Direct Loan is available through the Federal Direct Loan Program to help both undergraduate and graduate students pay for their education.
There are two types of Federal Direct Loans for students: Subsidized and Unsubsidized

The Federal Direct Subsidized Loan
Eligibility for subsidized loans is based on financial need as determined by federal guidelines. A loan is called subsidized because the government pays interest for the student during:

  • At least half-time enrollment in school
  • The six month grace period after the student ceases attendance on at least a half-time basis.

The Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan
This loan is available to students regardless of income or need. With an unsubsidized loan, the student is responsible for all interest that accrues during in school and during grace and deferment periods. The student may choose to pay the interest portion while in school. If the student chooses to defer such payments, the interest will be capitalized, resulting in an increase in both total debt and the amount of monthly payments.

Advantages of the Direct Loan 

  • The interest rate is fixed at 6.8% for unsubsidized and 3.4% for subsidized Federal Direct Loans. Subsidized loans disbursed between July 1, 2010 and July 1, 2011 have a fixed rate of 4.5%.
  • The loan has a low origination fee. Many other loans have significantly higher fees.  
  • Repayment of the loan does not begin until the student graduates or drops below half-time status.  
  • In cases of economic hardship, payments may be deferred, extended, or reduced.  
  • The loan is forgiven in case of permanent disability or death.  

Loans are usually issued for a single academic year, and both eligibility and amount are calculated annually throughout the student’s academic career.

Eligibility for Direct Loans
Your Direct Loan eligibility is determined by the Office of Financial Aid and is based on information you provided in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 

Federal criteria include: 

  • Enrollment in an eligible school at least half time in a degree program  
  • U.S. citizenship, permanent residency, or eligible noncitizen status  
  • Satisfactory academic progress (as determined by the Office of Financial Aid)  
  • No unresolved defaults or overpayments owed on Title IV educational loans and grants
  • Satisfaction of all Selective Service Act requirements

How Much Can I Borrow?
Borrowing limits are based on your dependency status and year in school. You are considered independent if you:

  • Were born before January 1, 1990; or
  • Will be working on a degree beyond a bachelor’s degree during the school year, or
  • You are married when the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is filed;
  • Have children who receive more than half of their support from you; or
  • Have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2014; or
  • Are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces; or
  • You are on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces; or
  • Were in foster care at any time since your turned age 13, or were a ward or dependent of the court or your parents are deceased; or
  • You are or were an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence; or
  • You are or were in legal guardianship as determined by  a court in your state of legal residence; or
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2012, your high school or school district homeless liaison determined that your were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless; or
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2012 the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determined that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless; or
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2012, the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determined that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.

If you do not meet any of the above criteria, you are considered a dependent student for financial aid purposes. You can never borrow more than the cost of education, less other financial aid received (special rules apply for recipients of Montgomery Chapter 30 VA benefits and AmeriCorps benefits). Below are the maximum amounts you may borrow.

Federal Direct Loan Limits for 2013-14 are as follows:
If dependent, your combined subsidized and unsubsidized Direct Loan annual eligibility is as follows:

  Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior

Maximum Subsidized

$3,500 $4,500 $5,000 $5,500
Unsubsidized $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $2,000
Total $5,500 $6,500 $7,500 $7,500

If independent, your subsidized and unsubsidized Direct Loan annual eligibility is as follows:

  Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior Graduate

Maximum Subsidized

$3,500 $4,500 $5,000 $5,500 $0
Unsubsidized $6,000 $6,000 $7,000 $7,000 $20,500
Total $9,500 $10,500 $12,500 $12,500 $20,500

The cumulative maximum amount that may be borrowed as a dependent undergraduate is $31,000 ($23,000 maximum subsidized) and for an independent is $57,500 ($23,000 maximum subsidized).

Interest Rate & Loan Fees 

For information regarding these, please visit  

The Application Process 

Step-by-step guide to the application process: 

  • Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at
  • Once your FAFSA is processed, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) documenting your financial resources and expected family contribution towards educational costs. An electronic copy will be sent to the Office of Financial Aid of the school(s) listed on your application. The Berry College school code is 001554.
  • Check your SAR for accuracy. If there are errors, follow the correction process indicated on the SAR or as instructed by the Office of Financial Aid.
  • From the information obtained in the SAR and other supporting documents, we will generate an online Financial Aid Award documenting the financial aid available to you including Federal Direct Loan eligibility.
  • The student may accept all or a part of the loan by accepting the Financial Aid Award online in VikingWeb.
  • The student must complete Loan Entrance Counseling at
  • Once the Financial Aid Award has been accepted and submitted and Loan Entrance Counseling has been completed, you will need to e-sign a new Master Promissory Note for the Federal Direct Program at
  • You will receive a Notice of Guarantee and Disclosure Statement. This is your notice of loan approval, and it contains essential information about the terms and conditions of your loan. It also tells you the amount of your loan and an estimated date for the arrival of funds.

Disbursements of Funds
An Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) will be sent directly to our school. The amount of the proceeds will be the loan amount less the school's cost. Funds will credit first to your student accounts bill and any excess funds will be mailed to your permanent address unless you notify the business office of another address or method to obtain these funds.

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