Student Loans

Northern's Financial Aid Office can show you a variety of student loan options available to full- and part-time students, and work with you to determine the best loan option(s) for you and your family. Please note that all borrowed federal loans are submitted to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), and the information will be accessible by guaranty agencies, lenders, and schools.

Learn more below about Direct and Federal Plus loans and alternative loan options.

 

Federal Direct Loan

The Direct Loan is available through the federal government to undergraduate or graduate students who complete the FAFSA.

If you are borrowing with a Direct Loan:

All students must complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN). The MPN is the application and promissory note for all Direct Loans - subsidized and unsubsidized. You will complete the MPN only the first time you borrow a Direct Loan. For all subsequent years, you only need to submit a FAFSA and accept your loans via your award letter. Your MPN is good for 10 years from the date the note was signed and can be used for any loan period that begins within the 10-year time frame.

Once you have accepted your Direct Loan as listed on your award letter, complete the Direct Loan MPN at studentaid.gov. Use your FSA ID to sign in to the website.

If you are a first-time Direct Loan borrower, you need to complete entrance loan counseling at studentaid.gov. You are required to complete entrance counseling before funds can be disbursed to your student account.

The Direct Loan comes in two forms:

  • Subsidized Direct Loan—This loan is need-based. Payment of the principal is deferred while you are enrolled at least half-time and for six months after your enrollment drops below half-time status. The interest rate is a fixed rate of 3.73 percent. This loan is only available to undergraduate students.
  • Unsubsidized Direct Loan—This loan is not need-based; payment of the principal is deferred while you are enrolled at least half-time and for six months after your enrollment period drops below half-time status. Interest on this loan begins accruing at the time of disbursement. The interest rate is fixed at 3.73 percent for undergraduate students and 5.28 percent for graduate students. You have the option of making quarterly interest payments while in school or allowing the interest to be capitalized (added to the principal).

A 1.057 percent net origination fee is deducted from the loans prior to disbursement.

Loan Limits: The maximum (combined subsidized and unsubsidized) annual limits for these loans are as follows:

 

Grade Level 
Dependent
Additional Unsub. for Dependents
Independent 
       
Freshman
$3,500
$2,000
$9,500
(1 – 29 credits)        
       
Sophomore
$4,500
$2,000
$10,500
(30 – 59 credits)      
       
Junior
$5,500
$2,000
$12,500
(60 – 89 credits)      
       
Senior
$5,500
$2,000
$12,500
(90 or more credits)      
       
Graduate    
$20,500

 


Federal PLUS Loan

The PLUS Loan, like any loan, must be repaid. Eligible borrowers may include parents of dependent students pursuing an undergraduate degree OR graduate students. A PLUS loan has a fixed interest rate of 6.28 percent with loan fees up to 4.228 percent. Borrowers must receive credit approval and the student must be enrolled at least half-time. The annual loan limit is the estimated cost of education minus any financial aid received by the student (i.e., grants, loans, scholarships, work, etc.). Repayment of the PLUS Loan begins within 60 days of the loan period's final disbursement on the loan (for example, after the spring semester disbursement for an academic year loan). The borrower can elect to defer payments on the principal until six months after the date the student ceases to be enrolled at least half-time; however, interest continues to accrue.

Federal regulations require that the student for whom a PLUS Loan is borrowed must have a valid FAFSA on file at Northern State University for the appropriate academic year. The FAFSA can be completed online at studentaid.gov.

About the PLUS MPN

The PLUS Master Promissory Note (PLUS MPN) is required for all PLUS Loans. The borrower will complete the PLUS MPN only the first time a PLUS Loan is borrowed for the student. The PLUS MPN is good for 10 years from the date the note was signed. If a parent has more than one student in college and would like to arrange a PLUS loan for each, a PLUS MPN must be completed for each student.

PLUS Loan for Parents

  • The responsibility for repaying a Parent PLUS Loan will always remain in the parent borrower's name and can never be transferred to the student.
  • Parents interested in borrowing a federal PLUS Loan must complete the online application process and Master Promissory Note (MPN) through the U.S. Department of Education at studentaid.gov. The parent borrower must log in with his/her own FSA ID.
  • An instant credit check of the applicant's credit history is a part of this application process. The decision is valid for 180 days.
    • If you are denied a PLUS Loan due to adverse credit, you can appeal the denial, add a creditworthy co-signer, or we may award your student an additional Direct Unsubsidized Loan.
    • Parents may continue to borrow each year, but must reapply and complete a new credit check annually.
  • Parents should carefully consider how much they agree to borrow and not borrow more than what is needed for the academic year. PLUS Loan funds will automatically pay any charges on your student’s account. The parent borrower must indicate whether any potential refund is to be issued to the student or to the parent borrower during the PLUS application process.
    • Student – This option authorizes the student to receive the refund.
    • Me – This option allows the parent borrower to receive the refund.

PLUS Loan for Graduate and Professional Students

  • Available only to graduate students enrolled at least half-time who have been awarded their annual maximum for the Direct Unsubsidized Loan program or have exhausted their full $138,500 of eligibility as a graduate student.
  • Graduate students interested in borrowing a federal PLUS Loan must complete the online application process and Master Promissory Note (MPN) through the U.S. Department of Education at studentaid.gov. The borrower must log in with his/her own FSA ID.
  • You must complete entrance counseling at the same website if you have not previously received a Direct Unsubsidized Loan or PLUS Loan.
  • An instant credit check of the applicant's credit history is a part of this application process. The decision is valid for 180 days.
  • Students should carefully consider how much they agree to borrow and not borrow more than what is needed for the academic year. PLUS Loan funds will automatically pay any charges on your account.

For more information about the Direct PLUS Loan program, visit Federal Student Aid.


Alternative Loan Options

In addition to federal student loan programs, as a Northern student you and/or your parents may take out alternative loans for educational expenses. Eligibility criteria, loan limits, interest rates, and repayment terms will vary from one program and lender to the next.

Because the interest rates don't have a maximum limit, and the federal government doesn't guarantee the loans, we recommend that you consider these loans only after exhausting eligibility for the federal loan programs.

A list of all alternative-loan lenders used by Northern students in the past three years is available at the Alternative Lender List link below. There, you'll also find information about interest rates, fees, repayment terms, and application instructions.

We don't endorse specific lender(s), and you're free to borrow from any participating lender, not just those identified. Be sure to compare benefits, and select the program that best fits your borrowing needs.

Federal regulations now require lenders to send three disclosure notices to borrowers and co-signers to ensure borrowers are properly informed regarding the terms and conditions of the loan. This process will lengthen the time it takes from applying for a loan until the funds are received, so please allow 3-4 weeks for processing time.

Alternative Lender List

Self-Certification

If you take out an alternative loan, you're required to fill out a Self-Certification of Private Loans form. Most lenders will provide this; however, you also may use the online form:

Self-Certification Form