Federal Student Loans

The Department of Education offers two loan types to US Citizens and Permanent Residents (green card holders): Federal Unsubsidized Loans and Federal Grad PLUS Loans.

The first step to apply for either/both loan is to complete the 2021-2022 Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The Rice University FAFSA school code is 003604.

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  • The Department of Education offers two types of Federal Student Loans at the following rates for the July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022 academic year. 

    Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan

    • Maximum Annual Loan Amount: $20,500 (FMBA and PMBA-Evening)
    • Maximum Annual Loan Amount: $10,250 (EMBA and PMBA-Weekend)
    • Interest Rate: 5.28% fixed
    • Origination Fee: 1.057% - this gets deducted from the gross amount of your loan
    • 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 (no credit check is required)

    Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan (Grad PLUS)

    • Maximum Annual Loan Amount: Total Cost of Attendance less other funding
    • Interest Rate: 6.28% fixed
    • Origination Fee: 4.228% - this gets deducted from the gross amount of your loan
    • 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
  • Completing the FAFSA is only the first step in the Federal Student Loan application process; there are additional requirements for each loan type. 

    The following steps are needed for the Federal Unsubsidized Loan

    1. Complete the Master Promissory Note (MPN) for Unsubsidized Loans

    2. Complete Loan Entrance Counseling

    3. Complete the Annual Student Loan Acknowledgment

    Once we receive your FAFSA you will automatically be awarded the Unsubsidized Loan. At that point, we will send a notification to your Rice email address to let you know to log-in to ESTHER and accept the award. 


    The following steps are needed for the Graduate PLUS Loan:

    1. Apply for the Grad PLUS Loan

    2. Complete the Master Promissory Note (MPN) for Direct PLUS Loans

    Once we receive notification that you've been approved for the Grad PLUS Loan, we will add the award to your funding plan. At that point, we will send a notification to your Rice email address to let you know to log-in to ESTHER and accept the award. 

     

     

     

  • Disbursement
    Loans are disbursed in 50% increments around the first week of each semester (assuming all loan requirements have been met). 

    Funding is transferred from the lender directly to Rice University and is then applied toward your ESTHER Student Account.

    Refunds
    If you decide to borrow above the cost of tuition/fees, the credit on your account will be refunded to you by the University Cashier's Office. We recommend that you set-up a Refund account in your ESTHER Payment Suite so that funds can be electronically transferred to your bank account.  

    Navigation: ESTHER => Student Services => Payment Suite  => Electronic Refunds

    If you choose not to set-up a Refund account, it can take 2-3 weeks for you to receive a mailed refund check.

  • What is the FAFSA?
    The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an online application and is the first step in the Federal Student Loan application process. It must be completed each academic year you wish to pursue Federal Student Loans. The Rice University school code is 003604.

    Who is eligible to apply for FAFSA/Federal Student Loans?
    US Citizens and Permanent Residents (green card holders).

    What information is required by the FAFSA?
    Household information and the prior-prior year's tax information. 

    Example: when completing the 2021-2022 FAFSA, you will use your 2019 tax information. 

    Why is the FAFSA needed?
    The FAFSA is the first step when applying for both Federal and State Student Loans. It is not required for Private Student Loans. Federal Loans for graduate students are not need-based, which means your income is not a factor when determining your eligibility. 

    How long does it take to process the FAFSA?
    The Department of Education generally processes your FAFSA and sends it to Rice University within 3-7 business days. 

    How much should I borrow?
    Student loans are always for one year at a time (not for the full program). The Cost and Funding Calculator is available to assist you in deciding how much to apply for each year. 

    Are Federal Grants available?
    No. Students attending graduate school are not eligible for need-based aid, which includes federal grants (such as the Pell Grant).

    What are Loan Origination Fees?
    All federal student loans have loan origination fees. These fees vary from year-to-year and are assessed to offset the lender's cost of issuing the loan. The gross amount of your loan will be reduced by the loan origination fee. For example, if you request a $10,000 Grad PLUS Loan, they will actually disburse $9,577.20 to your account. The gross loan is reduced by 4.228% (which is the current loan origination fee for Grad PLUS Loans). The current loan origination fee for the federal Unsubsidized Loan is 1.057%. Private student loans typically do not have loan origination fees (but may be more difficult to qualify for). 

    How do I defer my previous Federal Student Loan payments?
    Federal regulation allows for you to defer your loan repayment while you are enrolled at least half time (4.5 credit hours per semester).

    Contact your current Loan Servicer for a deferment request form. Complete your portion of the form and then forward to Student Financial Services to input the institutional information.

     


    ESTHER Navigation

    How do I check my award status?
    Go to ESTHER => Financial Aid => Award Status => Award for Aid Year (select appropriate academic year).

    You will be able to accept, adjust or decline your award(s) in this same page.

    How can I check if I have incomplete funding requirements?
    Go to ESTHER => Financial Aid => Financial Aid Requirements