Perkins Loans FAQ for Undergraduate and Graduate Students

Perkins Loan Qualification Requirements

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A Federal Perkins loan is a low interest (5 percent) loan for undergraduate and graduate students with exceptional financial need.

These loans are made directly by the school to the student, using government funds.

The U.S. Department of Education provides a programmed amount of funding to the school. In turn, the school determines which students have the greatest need. The school combines federal funds with some of its own funds for loans to qualifying students. You repay this loan to the school.

According to the Student Loan Network, you must meet the following requirements to receive a Perkins loan:

  • Enrolled in an eligible school program at least half-time
  • U.S. citizenship, permanent residency, or eligible non-citizen status
  • Satisfactory academic progress
  • No unresolved defaults or overpayments owed on Title IV education loans and grants
  • Satisfaction of all Selective Service requirements

How Much Can I Borrow with a Perkins Loan?

Undergraduate Students: Depending on when you apply, your level of need, and the school's funding level, you can borrow up to $5,500 for each year of undergraduate study. The total amount you can borrow as an undergraduate is $27,500.

Graduate Students: You can borrow $8,000 for each year of graduate or professional study. The total amount you can borrow as a graduate/professional student is $60,000, including any Federal Perkins loans you borrowed as an undergraduate.

Your school will either pay you directly (usually by check) or apply your loan to your school charges. You'll receive the loan in at least two payments during the academic year.

When Do I Pay Back a Perkins Loan?

If you're attending school at least half time, you have nine months after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time status before you must begin repayment of your Perkins loan. This is called a "grace period." If you're attending less than half-time, check with your college or career school to find out how long your grace period will be. Things to note:

  • You may be allowed up to 10 years to repay the loan in full.
  • Periods of deferment and forbearance do not count as part of this 10-year period.
  • Your monthly payment amount will depend on the size of your debt and the length of your repayment period.