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General Overview

Federal Perkins Loans

Federal Direct Subsidized Loans

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Federal Direct Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)

Private Student Loans

General Overview of Loans

Student loans, unlike grants and work-study, are borrowed money that must be repaid, with interest. Only borrow what you need! You do not have to accept a loan or you may accept a lower amount than what is offered. And, you have the right to cancel all or a portion of the loan later.

You must be enrolled in a minimum of six credit hours to be eligible for loan assistance. All loan disbursements are made based on your enrollment. For example, if you will be attending fall and spring terms, you would receive one disbursement in the fall and one in the spring. If you only plan to attend the fall term due to anticipated graduation in December, you would receive one disbursement.

All first time borrowers must complete Entrance Counseling, as well as, a Master Promissory Note prior to disbursement of funds. You will need your Personal Identification Number (PIN) to complete both requirements. Entrance counseling ensures that you are aware of your rights and responsibilities as a borrower. After a brief tutorial, you are required to pass a quiz which will be forwarded to Shepherd University. You can also meet with a financial aid counselor to satisfy this requirement.

When a student gets ready to graduate, drops below half time, or leaves school, the Department of Education requires you to complete Exit Counseling to ensure, once again, that you are aware of your rights and responsibilities as a borrower. By using your PIN, you can determine which repayment plan is best for you. You can also meet with a financial aid counselor to satisfy this requirement.

Federal Perkins Loans

Funds for this program are extremely limited. Students must have financial need as demonstrated by completion of the FAFSA by March 1. Students must be enrolled in at least 6 credit hours. Shepherd University is the holder of this loan; therefore, repayment will be made to the institution. The interest rate is 5%.  Borrowers have to complete a master promissory note. Repayment begins 9 months after you graduate, drop below 6 credit hours, or leave school.

Federal Direct Subsidized Loans

If you have a subsidized loan, the federal government does not charge you interest while you're in school at least half time (6 hours). You must show financial need by completing the FAFSA to receive this type of loan. Many regulatory changes have been initiated by Congress over the last couple of years that impact interest rates, grace period, length of subsidy, etc. on this type of loan. Changes are based on the disbursement of the loans. Please see below for details:

  • Subsidized loans disbursed between 7/1/2014 - 6/30/2015: 4.66% fixed interest begins accruing after grace period

  • Subsidized loans disbursed between 7/1/2013 - 6/30/2014: 3.86% fixed interest begins accruing during grace period

  • Subsidized loans disbursed between 7/1/2012 - 6/30/2013: 3.4% fixed interest begins accruing during grace period

  • Subsidized loans disbursed between 7/1/2011 - 6/30/2012: 3.4% fixed interest begins accruing after grace period

If you are a first time borrower after July 1, 2013, the interest subsidy will expire if you exceed 150% of the length of your program. This new rule means students in a four-year program will be eligible for subsidized student loans for the equivalent of six years. Once a borrower has reached the 150% limit, his or her eligibility for an interest subsidy ends for all outstanding subsidized loans that were disbursed on or after July 1, 2013. At that point, interest on those previously borrowed loans would begin to accrue and would be payable in the same manner as interest on unsubsidized loans.

*Subject to Congressional changes

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans

The federal government charges you interest on these loans while you're in school, in your grace period, or in deferment. You can get this type of loan regardless of financial need; however, you must still complete the FAFSA.

  • Unsubsidized loans disbursed between 7/1/2014 - 6/30/2015: 4.66% fixed interest begins accruing upon disbursement

  • Unsubsidized loans disbursed between 7/1/2013 - 6/30/2014: 3.86% fixed interest begins accruing upon disbursement

  • Unsubsidized loans disbursed between 7/1/2011 - 6/30/2013: 3.4% fixed interest begins accruing upon disbursement

Annual Stafford Loan Limits

Dependent Students

Independent Students

Stafford Loan Eligibility Limits

Maximum Subsidized Stafford

Maximum Subsidized +


Maximum Subsidized Stafford

Maximum Subsidized + Stafford

First Year (0-29 credits)





Second Year (30-59 credits)





Third/Fourth Year (60+ credits)







Aggregate Stafford Loan Limits



Undergraduate Subsidized Limit


Undergraduate Dependent Combined Limit 

Undergraduate Independent Combined Limit



Graduate Subsidized Limit (including all undergraduate loans)


Graduate Combined Limit (including all undergraduate loans)


Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan

This loan is for parents of dependent students. Interest is charged during all periods. An applicant must be the biological or adoptive parent (or, in some cases, the stepparent) of the student for whom he/she is borrowing. Generally, a child is considered dependent if he or she is under 24 years of age, has no dependents, and is not married, a veteran, or a ward of the court. The applicant cannot have an adverse credit history. A credit check will be done by the US Department of Education. Should the application be denied due to the credit check, the student will be eligible to borrow additional unsubsidized loan funds.

Parent loan funds can be used for tuition, supplies, housing, and more. Parents may complete the application and have credit results immediately at The parent must sign in with their federal student aid PIN, and then select "complete PLUS Request Process." The FAFSA and a Direct PLUS Request must be applied for each year.

Private Student Loans

Private loan programs are non-federal educational loans through a private lender that allow students to borrow additional funds for educational expenses. It is recommended that you apply for Federal Student Aid programs first by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at

Each lender is unique. Be sure to review each lender carefully making comparisons of interest rates, eligibility criteria, repayment terms, etc. Choose the lender that best suits your needs, and always only borrow what you need!

You have the right to select the private lender of your choice; however, the following list of lenders has been utilized in the past by Shepherd University students. If you plan to apply for a private loan, contact the lender directly. The loans are listed in alphabetical order and do not indicate a ranking. You may choose a lender not listed below. Upon application, the lender will forward a certification request to the Office of Financial Aid.

Neither Shepherd University nor the Office of Financial Aid intends any specific endorsement, recommendation, or promotion of the products and/or services provided by the lenders on this list. The lenders inclusion on this page is strictly informational. A private loan is an agreement between the borrower and co-signer (if any) and the lender. Shepherd University cannot be held liable if the borrower is dissatisfied with the interest rates, other terms and/or service provided by the lender.

Some helpful tips:

  • Apply with a credit worthy cosigner. Applying with a cosigner may provide you with an increased chance of approval and more competitive interest rate.
  • Borrow only what you need to meet your educational costs!
  • Do your research. Ask questions of lenders and find out which lender/loan will benefit you the most.
  • Do not apply too early (earlier than 90 days before the start of the semester) because lenders have an expiration date on the credit check.
  • Your application will not be certified until after you are registered for classes.
  • Monitor your total indebtedness of your federal and/or private loans.
  • Cosigners are equally responsible for repayment of the loan and their credit is equally affected.
  • Don't wait until the last minute. Your lender will not release the funds to Shepherd University until nine business days after your certification has been processed.

Compare Federal Direct Parent Loans and Private Student Loans

Private Educational Loans and Direct PLUS Loans should be considered as a last resort, but may be necessary to finance a college education. To learn more about these options, please review the comparison chart below. If you have a good credit history, a private loan may cost less than a federal parent loan--be sure to consider all of your options and compare carefully!

Compare Federal Parent (PLUS) loans and Private Student loans:

  Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan Private student loans
Borrower ParentStudent and cosigner (if required); cosigner can be parent, relative, or willing sponsor
EnrollmentAt least half-time and degree seekingFull-time, half-time, less than half-time; degree seeking depending on lender; past due option may be available depending on lender
Credit RequirementsCredit check required; approval determined by federal criteria and is not based on credit score; additional unsubsidized loan may be awarded to dependent undergraduate student based on credit denialCredit check required; approval determined by lender criteria based on credit score, credit history, and income (if credit-worthy applicant or cosigner required) dependent undergraduate students are likely to need a credit-worthy cosigner
Annual loan limitMay borrow up to the cost of education less other aid receivedMay borrow up to the cost of education less other aid received
Aggregate loan limitNoneAmount depends on lender
Interest rates6.21% fixedFixed and/or variable interest rate options available depending on lender
Fees4.288% (beginning July 1, 2013)Fees may or may not apply depending on lender
Borrower benefits0.25% interest rate reduction for electronic debit account repaymentBorrower benefits available to reduce interest rates and overall loan costs; check with lender for availability and types of benefits available; cosigner release option; check with lender for availability and eligibility
ServicerU.S. Department of EducationDetermined by lender contracted services
Repayment terms10 year repayment; May request deferment of payment while in school; 6 month grace periodTypically 15-25 years; determined by lender
Grace periodSee "Repayment terms"6-to-9 month grace period after enrollment ends depending on lender
Loan consolidationCan be consolidated with other federal education loans (i.e., Perkins and Stafford) through the Federal Direct Loan Consolidation ProgramPrivate loan consolidation may be available; check with lender for availability
Loan forgiveness optionsLoan forgiven in the event of permanent disability or death of student; Public Service Loan ForgivenessLoan may be forgiven in the event of permanent disability or death of student; check with lenders for availability
Repayment optionsVarious repayment options available, including graduated, standard, and extended; Deferment and forbearance availableStandard and interest-only options as well as forbearance options may be available; check with lender for specifics

What's the bottom line for students and families?

All consumers should make an informed decision before deciding on a loan. There is no down side to shopping around.

  • Each family's situation is unique.
  • Applying for multiple credit-based student loans (rate shopping) in a 30-day window is treated as one inquiry when determining a credit score.*
  • Applying for a private student loan does not impact ones eligibility for a Direct PLUS Loan.
  • All approved Direct PLUS Loan borrowers receive the same interest rate of 6.21% and origination fees of 4.288%. The interest rate and origination fees for private loans will vary depending on the lender and the credit rating of the borrower or cosigner.


Consolidation Loans

There may be advantages to consolidating (combining) your federal student loans into one loan, starting with the convenience of making a single monthly payment.

Consolidation generally extends the repayment period, resulting in a lower monthly payment. This may make it easier for you to repay your loans.  You may pay more interest if you extend your repayment period through consolidation. Contact the Direct Loan Consolidation Center for more information about loan consolidation at 800-557-7392. TTY for the hearing-impaired: 1-800-557-7395.

Stafford Loan Forgiveness Program for Teachers

The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is intended to encourage individuals to enter and continue in the teaching profession. Under this program, individuals who teach full time for five consecutive, complete academic years in certain elementary and secondary schools that serve low-income families and meet other qualifications may be eligible for forgiveness of up to a combined total of $17,500 in principal and interest on their FFEL and/or Direct Loan program loans. For additional details, go to Stafford Loan Forgiveness Program for Teachers .

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program was created to encourage individuals to enter and continue to work full-time in public service jobs. Under this program, you may qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance due on your eligible federal student loans after you have made 120 payments on loans under certain repayment plans while employed full time by certain public service employers. For additional details, go to

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

Online Enrollment Verifications are available now!

Also available:  check your loan deferment status online!

RAIL offers enrollment verification for loan companies. This free self-service option is based on an agreement between Shepherd University and the National Student Loan Clearinghouse (NSLC), which already provides enrollment and degree verification for Shepherd University as well as for most colleges and universities nationwide.

Log on to RAIL
Click on "Student Services and Financial Aid"
Click on "Student Records"
Click on "Request Enrollment Verification"
Click on "Request Enrollment Verification for (your name)." (This step will send you to another secure website.)
Click on "Obtain an Enrollment Certificate"

View and/or print your enrollment verification certificate.



Electronic Master

Promissory Note

Entrance Counseling

Exit Counseling



Office of Financial Aid
Gardiner Hall | P.O. Box 5000 | Shepherdstown, WV 25443-5000
304-876-5470 | 800-344-5231 | Fax: 304-876-5238 (Include SID and name) | Federal School Code: 003822
Office Hours: Monday 8-4:30; Tuesday 8-4:30; Wednesday 9:30-4:30; Thursday 8-4:30; Friday 8-4:30

Shepherd University | P.O. Box 5000 | Shepherdstown, WV | 25443-5000 | 304-876-5000 | 800-344-5231 | FAX 304-876-3101