The Federal Perkins Loan Program is funded by the United States Department of Education (DOE) and offers a 5% fixed rate loan to students with financial need. The loan is allocated bi-annually and can be used towards any and all expenses related to going to college.
The money is distributed directly through your school’s financial aid department, usually in the form of a check. In order to qualify, you must be enrolled at a minimum of 6 credit hours for the semester.
Undergraduate, vocational and graduate students are all eligible. The maximum annual award is $5,500 for undergrads and $8,000 for graduate students.
Interested parties must begin the process by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to the DOE. This form is what the government uses to determine your level of financial need and, thus, the size of Perkins Loan to be awarded.
Upon graduation, there is a 10 month grace period before the student must begin repayment. And since it is a federal loan, interest isn’t charged until the end of this grace period. If the student has an extraordinary situation that keeps them from repaying on time (sickness, unemployment) they can apply for a loan forbearance or deferment with the DOE.
Important note: the Federal Perkins Loan is given on a first-come, first-served basis. It is in your best interest to submit your FAFSA form as early as possible.