Federal Student Loans

Federal Direct Student Loans are issued through the Department of Education and are available to US Citizens and US Permanent Residents (green card holders).

The first step is to complete the Department of Education’s 2016-2017 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is available as of January 1 for the coming academic year. Rice University’s FAFSA school code is 003604.

Once you are admitted to the program and your enrollment deposit is submitted, our system begins processing FAFSAs and Federal/State Loan Applications on May 23. Loan application steps will be emailed to your student email account within 5-7 business days.

The Department of Education offers two types of Federal Student Loans.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan
The maximum academic year (Fall + Spring semesters) amount is $20,500.

  • Interest Rate: 5.31% fixed
  • Origination Fee: 1.068%
  • Loan Disbursement: 50% in Fall and 50% in Spring
  • Interest Accrual: begins to accrue on the amount disbursed from the point of disbursement
  • Minimum Enrollment: a minimum of half-time (4.5 credits/semester)
  • Approval: completion of the FAFSA

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan (a.k.a.: Grad PLUS)
There is no particular academic year maximum, however, the amount borrowed may not exceed the cost of attendance.

  • Interest Rate: 6.31% fixed
  • Origination Fee: 4.272%¬†
  • Loan Disbursement: 50% in Fall and 50% in Spring
  • Interest Accrual: begins to accrue on the amount disbursed from the point of disbursement
  • Minimum Enrollment: a minimum of half-time (4.5 credits/semester)
  • Approval: completion of the FAFSA and a review of your credit history

The above interest rates are for the 2016-2017 academic year. The origination fees are based on the 2015-2016 academic year and any changes will be announced by the Department of Education in June 2016. Please visit Federal Student Aid for more information.

Loan Repayment
Prior to entering repayment, the Department of Education assigns a borrower's student loan(s) to a third-party Loan Servicer. The following are important elements of loan repayment. 

  • Repayment is deferred while you are enrolled at least Half Time (4.5 credit hours per semester)
  • There is a 6-Month Repayment Grace Period following graduation, withdrawal, or the point at which you drop below Half Time enrollment
  • The Standard Repayment Plan is 10 years, but repayment can span up to 30 years depending on eligibility
  • There is no early repayment penalty

State Student Loans

The College Access Loan (CAL) is a credit based program administered by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). You may borrow up to the Cost of Attendance less other funding.

  • Eligibility: US Citizens or Permanent Residents (green card holders) and must also be a Texas state resident
  • Interest Rate: 4.5% fixed
  • Origination Fee: 0%, 3% or 5% depending on credit score
  • Loan Disbursement: 50% in Fall and 50% in Spring
  • Interest Accrual: begins to accrue on the amount disbursed from the point of disbursement
  • Minimum Enrollment: a minimum of half-time enrollment (4.5 credits/semester)
  • Approval: completion of the FAFSA and a credit review (minimum Experian VantageScore of 591)

Loan Repayment
Loan repayment is made directly to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB).

  • Repayment is deferred while you are enrolled at least Half Time (4.5 credit hours per semester)
  • There is a 6-Month Repayment Grace Period following graduation, withdrawal, or the point at which you drop below Half Time enrollment
  • Principal balances under $30,000 have up to a 10 year repayment period
  • Principal balances of $30,000 or more have a repayment period up to 20 years

For more information, please visit the THECB website.

Private Student Loans

Private Student Loans are an additional funding option to be used in combination with, or as an alternative to, Federal and State Student Loans.

The application process is student-initiated and directly with the lender of your choice. Approval and loan terms are based on the applicant's (and co-signer's, if applicable) credit history as determined by the lender. The Office of Financial Aid Private Loans section contains a sample list of private lenders*; this may assist you in your research. Due to the loan processing timeline, we recommend you begin the application process no earlier than May 15 for the coming academic year.

Please note that you are not limited to the sample list of private lenders and, if you do not see your desired lender, please contact them directly.

* Rice University does not promote, nor has affiliation with, any student loan lending institution. It is your responsibility to choose the lender that is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the FAFSA?
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is an online application provided by the Department of Education. It consists of (a) personal/household information and (b) the previous tax year's information and must be completed each academic year. 

Why is the FAFSA needed?
The FAFSA is a supporting document and is the first step when applying for both Federal and State Student Loans. It is not required for Private Student Loans. 

Am I eligible for student loans?
Domestic students (US citizens and Permanent Residents) are eligible to apply for Federal, State, and Private Student Loans. If you are an International Student, please reference the International Student section.

When do I start applying for student loans?
The loan application process begins after (a) you are admitted to the program and (b) you submit your enrollment deposit. (c) If applying for Federal and/or State Student Loans, the first step is to complete your 2016-2017 FAFSA. Our system begins processing FAFSAs and certifying loan applications on May 23 for the coming academic year. Application instructions for Federal and State Student Loans will be provided to you from the Jones School financial aid representative within 5-7 business days of the above date.

If applying for Private Student Loans, we recommend you apply no earlier than May 15. Processing begins around June 1.

What is the Cost of Attendance (COA) Budget?
Each academic year we develop a budget that consists of direct costs (tuition & fees) and estimated allowances for indirect costs (room & board, transportation, etc.). You may borrow up to the COA minus other funding resources such as scholarship, etc. 

How much should I borrow?
We always encourage you to borrow conservatively. In deciding how much to borrow, a basic principle is to borrow sufficient funding to cover the costs for the academic year (Fall + Spring).