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Student Loans

UNC is committed to making every attempt to keep the cost of attendance manageable for all students. However, even with this commitment to reasonable educational costs, many UNC students must take out student loans to meet their educational expenses. UNC has several loan options available. These are all interest bearing loans, which must be repaid. An educational loan is an investment in your education; it is also a tremendous financial responsibility since a loan must be repaid to the lender with interest. It is always best to borrow only what you need to meet your educational expenses. 

Loan Counseling Requirements

In an effort to increase understanding and reduce the default rate for student loans, the Federal Government requires that all first time borrowers complete an online entrance counseling session.

If you have previously received a loan at UNC and have completed entrance counseling, for Stafford Loans you are NOT required to complete another session. You WILL be required to complete an online session if you received a loan while attending a different school even though you completed an entrance counseling session for that institution.

Loan Entrance Counseling

An e-mail message will be sent to UNC when you have completed this requirement.

Once a session is completed, loan proceeds may be available in three working days, provided that all other disbursement requirements have been met.

In addition, student borrowers who are graduating must complete exit counseling online during the last semester of attendance. Failure to complete exit counseling may result in a hold on all University services and materials including transcripts, diplomas and registration.

Loan Exit Counseling

Federal Loan Requirements

  • Applicants must have a current year FAFSA on file and eligibility determined by the UNC Office of Financial Aid.
  • Students must not be in default of a federal loan, owe a payment on a federal grant, or have reached the lifetime borrowing limit.
  • All full academic year (loans for Fall and Spring) Stafford and PLUS Loans must be disbursed in two installments during the term of the loan.
  • First-time Direct Stafford Loan borrowers must complete an entrance counseling requirement prior to receiving loan funds.
  • First-time Graduate PLUS borrowers must complete Grad PLUS Entrance Counseling prior to receiving loan funds.
  • Direct Stafford Loan borrowers not returning to UNC must complete an online exit counseling prior to leaving campus.
  • Borrowers must keep their lenders informed of any changes in enrollment status, name changes and/or address changes.
  • NSLDS (National Student Loan Data System) Federal Loan (Title IV), information will be submitted to NSLDS, and will be made accessible by guarantee agencies, lenders, schools determined to be authorized users of the data system.
  • Half-time status is required for Direct Stafford Loan consideration (6 credits for undergraduate, 5 for graduate).

Borrowing Strategies

Many of our students will be borrowing for the first time in their lives. Students should attempt to borrow the minimum amount possible to insure that after graduation they can comfortably accommodate student loan payments.

Whom can I contact if I have questions about processing?

If you have questions pertaining to processing your student loans please contact us at (970) 351-4862.    
View information for the DL Federal Student loans in PDF format
Ver información de préstamos federales estudiantiles DL en formato de PDF.  

  • Federal Direct Stafford Loan

    The Federal Direct Stafford Loan is an interest bearing government loan to help you meet the cost of your education. If the loan appears as a Subsidized Stafford Loan on your award offer, this means that the loan is one on which the government is paying the interest on your behalf. If the loan is labeled Unsubsidized this means that the loan is not based on need and you should pay the interest on that loan while you are enrolled in school. You can defer the interest on an Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, but be aware that when you go into repayment you will need to pay the past interest as well as the current principal and interest on the loan. Graduate students are only eligible for Unsubsidized Stafford Loans.

    The Federal Direct Stafford Loan (sub or unsub) has a 6-month grace period which means you do not have to start repayment of the loan until 6 months after you graduate, leave school or attend less than half time. The current interest rate on these loans can be found on the studentaid.gov

    When you are offered a Stafford Loan you may reduce the amount you wish to borrow. Currently, Federal Direct Stafford Loans charge fees that are deducted from your loan disbursements. The current origination fee schedule can be found on the studentaid.gov site. Consequently, your loan disbursement may be less than the gross amount by the amount of those fees.

    There are both annual and aggregate loan limits for the Direct Federal Stafford Loan Program. The limits for dependent students are $5,500 as a freshman of which no more than $3,500 may be subsidized; $6,500 as a sophomore of which no more than $4,500 may be subsidized; $7,500 as a junior & senior of which no more than $5,500 may be subsidized. Students who qualify to be independent can borrow additional unsubsidized loans up to $4,000 for freshmen and sophomores and $5,000 as juniors or seniors. Graduate students can borrow up to $20,500 in an unsubsidized loan, not to exceed the cost of attendance. Dependent students whose parents are denied the PLUS loan by the department of education may also borrow additional Unsubsidized Stafford Loans according to their year in school: Freshman/Sophomore $4,000 or Junior/Senior $5,000. All funds may not exceed the student's budget. Seniors graduating at the end of fall semester may have loan funds prorated based on hours enrolled.

    Students cannot borrow more than $31,000 aggregate in Stafford Loans as an undergraduate. Independent undergraduates may borrow up to $57,500, but only $23,000 can be subsidized. Graduate students may borrow a total of $138,500 including all undergraduate loans.

    The Federal Direct Stafford Loan requires you to sign a Master Promissory Note before any funds will be disbursed. Your promissory note is in electronic format and you will need to go tostudentaid.gov to complete. That note is good up to 10 years so long as you continue to borrow. Students may also prepay on these loans without penalty. 

    Be sure to review the Loan Borrower Rights and Responsibilities for additional information.

  • Federal Direct PLUS Loan (Federal Loan for parents of dependent undergraduate students)

    Federal Direct PLUS Loans are offered to parents of dependent students. UNC requires that parents/students file the FAFSA to determine eligibility for this loan. These loans are equal to the cost of attendance minus other aid that the student accepts. Parents are not obligated to accept a PLUS loan, or can adjust the amount they wish to borrow. 

    The Department of Education performs a credit check on the potential borrower of a PLUS Loan. If the parent has an adverse credit history, the loan can be denied. Parents who are denied can work with the government to have the loan approved. A PLUS credit check does go against the parent credit report, but the debt to income ratio test is not applied for a PLUS loan.

    If the parent has been denied for the PLUS loan, a student can borrow an additional Unsubsidized Direct Stafford Loan. This additional offer will be made automatically once UNC receives this information from the Department of Education. 

    Interest begins to accrue 30 days after the second disbursement is made. Parents must start repayment of both principal and interest on a PLUS loan within 60 days after full disbursement of the loan has been made. This usually means repayment begins during the spring semester, as the loan has two disbursement requirements (one in fall, and one in spring). The parent has the option to defer the PLUS loan payment until the student is out of school. Federal Direct PLUS Loans offer interest-only payments for a limited time while the student is enrolled.


    Like the Stafford Loan, the PLUS loan also has origination fees deducted from the disbursement. 

    Please be aware that the PLUS Loan promissory note is also called a Master Promissory Note. If your parent has signed a PLUS Loan promissory note in the past 10 years with the Department of Education, your parent should not have to sign a new promissory note. If your parent has never borrowed a PLUS loan before, the promissory note must be signed in order for us to request funds. Parents will also need to complete a credit check by clicking on request a plus loan at the Studentloans.gov website. 

    Federal Direct PLUS Loan in PDF format.
    Ver información de préstamos federales para padres DL en formato de PDF.

    Be sure to review the Borrower Rights and Responsibilities for additional information.

  • Federal Direct PLUS Loans for Graduate Students

    The Federal Direct PLUS Loan for graduate students is borrowed by a graduate student. A parent is not able to borrow this loan on behalf of a student. Undergraduate students are not eligible for this loan. UNC graduate students who are Colorado residents will have most of their cost of attendance covered by the current $20,500 allowed under the Federal Direct Stafford Loan Program. Graduate students whose costs are not met by the current Stafford loan levels may want to consider the PLUS loan as a means to make up the difference.

    The amount is limited to the cost of attendance minus other awarded aid. The borrower is subject to a credit check to qualify for the loan. Repayment begins within 60 days after full disbursement of the loan. The borrower will need to e-sign a Master Promissory Note once the loan is processed, if one is not already on file within the past 10 years.

    Please note that PLUS loans do not have the same terms as the Stafford Loans. PLUS loan amounts are based on cost of attendance minus other aid received. The interest rate on these loans can be found on the Studentaid.gov

    You can contact the Office of Financial Aid to speak with a counselor if you need more information.

  • Private (Alternative) Loans

    These are loans available to students and parents of students who may not qualify for need-based financial aid programs to help defer a portion or all of the cost of education at UNC. Alternative loans are private educational loans that are not guaranteed by the federal government. Since these are private funds with different eligibility requirements such as creditworthiness and debt to income ratio, some students will not qualify without a cosigner.

    Before you borrow a private loan, you really should apply for student aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for federal student loans which offer better rates and terms than the private loans. Applying for aid will determine if you have eligibility for grant programs as well. Graduate students are urged to review the information on Graduate PLUS loans before borrowing an alternative loan.

    If you must borrow a private loan, you can apply online or call the lender’s toll free number. UNC will certify the loan if you are eligible, be sure to pay attention to whether or not you must be making satisfactory academic progress to apply. Some alternative loans do not require that the university certify eligibility for the loan. In that case, the Office of Financial Aid would not have knowledge of the loan. If you receive a check directly from the lender and use that check to apply to your university bill, then the Office of Financial Aid will be notified by Accounts Receivable.

    All alternative loans will be counted in your financial aid eligibility whether or not the Office of Financial Aid certified the loan. At that time we will post it as part of your financial aid award, which can affect the other aid you are receiving. Please keep that in mind if you are applying for these loans in addition to other aid. If you have additional education-related expenses, you may want to visit with a financial aid counselor to determine your eligibility for a cost of attendance adjustment.

    UNC does not have a preferred lender list of private loan lenders and will certify any loan from any lender the family chooses. View a comprehensive list of alternative loans, their terms and rates on the Finaid.org website. Additional programs may be available through your personal bank or lending institution. We suggest that you do the research to determine which, if any, of the available programs will best suit your personal needs and situation. To ensure fully-informed borrowing you should refer directly to each lender’s loan application and promissory note for exact information regarding terms, assumptions, conditions, eligibility, definitions and annual percentage rates (APR).

  • Loan Repayment and Consolidation

    The federal government offers are variety of repayment plans to help students manage their debt.

    You may consolidate your Stafford Loans to make it easier for you to repay your loans, either to combine loans under one lender or reduce your payment amount on a monthly basis. You are eligible to consolidate your loans during your grace period or during repayment, but you are advised to review all the benefits and loss of benefits that accompany loan consolidation.

  • Federal Student Loan Forgiveness

    Where can I find out about loan forgiveness?

    Additional Resources for Loan Forgiveness Information

    Perkins Loan Forgiveness Application: (Ask your school where you receive your Perkins Program Loan.)