Financial Aid: Student Loans

Student loans are borrowed money that must be repaid, with interest. They are legal obligations. All Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized student loans, Graduate PLUS Loans, and Parent PLUS Loans are funded through the U.S. Department of Education, with the exception of Federal Nursing Student Loans, which are funded by the Department of Health and Human Services.

How to Apply for Loans Complete the FAFSA application at

Direct loans are for undergraduate and graduate students. You must be enrolled as at least a half-time student to be eligible for them. There are two types of loans, subsidized and unsubsidized.

Subsidized Loans

  • You must have financial need to receive a subsidized loan.
  • The U.S. Department of Education will pay the interest on subsidized loans while you are enrolled at least as a half-time student and during certain other periods such as in school status, grace periods, and deferments.
  • The lender is the U.S. Department of Education.
  • First time borrowers may not receive this loan for more than 150 percent of the length of their program of study.  The U.S. Department of Education may stop paying interest if a student who receives subsidized direct loans for the maximum eligibility period continues enrollment after the student has been enrolled for the maximum eligibility period.
  • You must be an undergraduate student to receive this loan.

Unsubsidized Loans

  • Financial need is not a requirement to obtain a unsubsidized loan.
  • You will be required to pay interest on these loans from the time of disbursement.
  • Graduate students are eligible for Unsubsidized Direct Loans only.
  • Students must be enrolled at least half time to be eligible for unsubsidized direct loans.
  • The lender is the U.S. Department of Education.
  • These loans are awarded to junior and senior nursing students.
  • These loans are awarded to undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate financial need. Students must be enrolled half-time to qualify.
  • The lender is the University of Mary.
  • These are loans that parents can obtain to help pay the cost of education for their dependent undergraduate student.
  • Students must be enrolled at least half-time for the parents to qualify for this loan.
  • The parent is the borrower of this loan.
  • The parents must qualify for the loan and repayment will begin 60 days after final disbursement.
  • The lender is the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Graduate students may apply for these loans when all other student loan eligibility has been exhausted.
  • The student must be enrolled at least as a half-time student and repayment will begin 60 days after final disbursement.
  • The student must qualify for this type of loan.
  • The lender is the U.S. Department of Education.

As you pursue your educational goals, we understand that meeting the cost of your education can be a major concern. It is important to first consider your lowest cost options which include scholarships, state grants, and federal aid. The terms and conditions of federal loans may be more favorable than the provisions of alternative education loans. We encourage you to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for federal and state aid. 

If federal aid, along with scholarships, state grants, tuition waivers, and personal savings are not enough to cover your educational expenses, you may wish to consider borrowing an alternative loan. Please visit the Department of Educational Federal Aid First web site to learn the differences between federal and private student loans at

Alternative education loans are non-federal loans offered by lending institutions to assist students in meeting their education expenses. They are also referred to as private education loans. Interest rates and fees are generally determined by the credit-worthiness of the borrower and/or co-signer.

Remember, alternative education loans are private student loans that help supplement federal financing. Alternative borrowing sources should be a last resort for students. These are private loans that students must apply for and qualify for based on the lender's requirements. Since these are private loans, they have different terms, conditions, repayment options and fees than federal loans do. Alternative education loans cannot be consolidated with federal loans.

Due to federal regulations, we are not able to recommend a specific alternative education loan for you. We do offer an online comparison tool for you to use called FASTchoice is a comparison tool, customized by the University of Mary Financial Aid Office, designed to assist you in making the alternative education loan choice that is best for you. FASTchoice is not a lender. It Is an independent, web-based, student loan comparison solution. FASTchoice comparison tool contains the alternative education lenders University of Mary students used over the past five years. Know that you may select any lender of your choice, even if they do not appear in FASTchoice.

The University of Mary Financial Aid Office and its staff do not endorse, or accept any incentives, financial or otherwise, from any lender. The University of Mary will process loans from any lender that participates in any educational loan programs.  

Effective February 2010, the Federal Reserve and the Department of Education implemented new rules and regulations that impact students who borrow private educational loans. All lenders must be in compliance with the new regulations and each lender may handle the process differently. We encourage you to contact your lender regarding processing and disbursement time frames. 

Consider the following when selecting a private alternative loan lender:

Value and Benefits

  • What fees does the lender charge?
  • Does the lender offer competitive rates and pricing?
  • Does the lender offer interest rate reductions and rebates?
  • How easy is it for you to earn and keep rate reductions and rebates?

Customer Service

  • Does the lender recommend that students maximize their use of free aid and federal loans prior to considering a private loan? 
  • Can you apply online and do you have 24/7 access?

Repayment Options

  • When will you have to start repaying your loan?
  • Does the lender offer a variety of repayment options & solutions?
  • Does the lender educate borrowers about effective debt management?

Experience and Longevity

Is the lender a steady and responsible lender with a track record that demonstrates its commitment to students?

Before we can apply for your Federal Direct Student Loan (subsidized or unsubsidized) or Federal Nursing Loan, regulations require that you complete an entrance counseling session. The counseling session provides information about how to manage your student loans, both during and after college. Even if you have completed loan entrance counseling at another institution, this step is required as a first time borrower at the University of Mary.

You may need to complete more than one session depending on the type of loan you are awarded.

  • Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans: Complete loan counseling at
  • Graduate PLUS Loans: Complete loan counseling at
  • Nursing Student Loan Entrance Counseling will be completed through ECSI, a loan servicer.
  • Nursing Student Loan disclosure statements will be provided by ECSI.

A promissory note is a binding legal document you sign when you get a student loan. It lists the conditions under which you're borrowing and the terms under which you agree to pay back the loan. You will complete your Direct Loan Master Promissory Note at

If you were awarded a Federal Nursing Loan, your promissory note will be completed through ECSI. Funds cannot be released to your University of Mary student account to pay your tuition and fees until you complete a promissory note.

Learn more about your financial aid options at