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Loan Information

Most graduate students who require loans to help bridge the gap in meeting their education costs apply for one of the following federal student loans:

Federal Direct Student Loan

First Disbursed Interest Rate
July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013 6.8% (fixed)
July 1, 2013-June 30, 2014 5.41% (fixed)

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan

First Disbursed Interest Rate
July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013 7.9% (fixed)
July 1, 2013-June 30, 2014 6.41% (fixed)

Applications for both of these loans can be found at www.studentloans.gov. There is no deadline for applying for loans; you may apply at any time during the academic year. In order to apply, however, you must complete the FAFSA at www.fafsa.ed.gov.

Additional private educational loans, while a last resort, are available to credit-worthy students through a number of private lending institutions. For more information on these loans, contact Student Financial Services.

Borrowing Limit

The borrowing limit for student loans is the student’s total cost of attendance minus any grant, scholarship, outside aid, or other aid received during the academic year. Loan origination fees are also added to the cost of attendance as a student borrows.

Please note that the personal expense amounts set by the School are estimates. Your actual expenses may be less and will vary based on living and travel arrangements, field placement location and other personal choices. Plan your budget carefully and borrow conservatively to reflect your own personal expenses. Please keep in mind that loan funds borrowed will need to be repaid.

The Federal Student Aid website has extensive information for loan planning, including budgeting and repayment calculators:

Budget Adjustments

Cost of attendance budgets are set annually by the College, and are reflective of the unique costs associated with the SSW programs. However, we understand that special circumstances sometimes warrant an increase to the standard budget based on actual expenses.

A student may submit a Cost of Attendance (COA) Appeal Form for review by Student Financial Services (SFS) in order to determine if we are able increase your eligibility to borrow additional federal loans. Our review is based primarily upon two factors:

  1. your actual educational-related personal expenses for the enrollment period are greater than the standard budget originally used to determine your loan eligibility, and
  2. the amount of expense approved is deemed reasonable and “modest but adequate” in accordance with Department of Education regulations.

Students should save all receipts associated with non-standard educational expenses (i.e. unreimbursed medical and/or dental) in the event a budget appeal is required during the academic year.

Please note that student loans and other financial aid awarded during the current enrollment period can only be used to support tuition and other educational-related personal expenses incurred during the enrollment period. Funds cannot be used to pay for prior academic year expenses or for consumer debt expenses, such as credit card payments or car loan payments.

Please email SFS at sswfa@smith.edu to request a Cost of Attendance (COA) Appeal Form.

Important Information for Specific Allowances:

Cost of a Computer
Entering SSW students may include the cost of a computer that will be used to support their academic work during the program. Approval requires a receipt for a recently purchased computer or a completed Application for Computer Purchase through the Smith College Computer Store including invoice.

Dependent Care
A dependent care allowance in the COA is specifically intended to cover costs incurred when care is required for dependent children in order for the student to attend school. This covers care during periods that include but are not limited to class time, study time, field work, internships, and commuting time for the student. The amount of the allowance is based on the number and age of such dependents and should not exceed reasonable cost in the community for the type of care provided.

Dependent Maintenance

An allowance for the basic maintenance expenses of dependents (e.g., costs for food and shelter) may be allowed when a family’s income is insufficient to cover those basic maintenance costs.

The only measure of this is determined by Federal Methodology (FM) as set by the Department of Education.
If the total family income is determined to be lower than the FM Income Protection Allowance (IPA), a budget adjustment is possible. The maximum amount allowed to be added to a student’s Cost of Attendance is the difference between the lower income and the IPA.

Smith College School for Social Work standard policy will allow for 40% of this difference as part of the original COA determination. Students who qualify under the measure (defined above) may submit a COA Appeal Form for up to the remainder 60% allowance based upon a review of their actual expenses.

Loan Forgiveness

Federal student loans may qualify for loan forgiveness under certain forgiveness programs. Through the Department of Education, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program was created to encourage individuals to enter and continue to work full-time in public service jobs. Under this program, you may qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance due on your eligible federal student loans after you have made 120 payments on loans under certain repayment plans while employed full time by certain public service employers.

Additionally, the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-MA) maintains information about loan forgiveness and repayment programs, including advice on applying and web links. This information can be found here.