Student loans are administered by the Office of Student Financial Services and are included in your financial aid award if you have completed the necessary requirements. Loans are a form of financial aid that must be repaid with interest.
Students at Smith must use NetPartner to accept, decline, or reduce loans offered as part of a financial aid award.
Federal Loan Deadline
Applicants interested in federal loans should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by February 15 or as soon as possible after applying for admission.
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Student Loans
Federal Direct Student Loans are used by many students to help finance their education. Federal Direct Student loans are available to U.S. citizens only.
Annual Borrowing Limits
The annual maximum loan amount for graduate students is $20,500 or the difference between Cost of Attendance and all other aid, whichever is less. Students must maintain satisfactory academic progress in order to maintain their eligibility to borrow.
Aggregate (Lifetime) Borrowing Limits
Graduate students have a lifetime limit of $138,500 in Stafford Loans. This includes both undergraduate and graduate borrowing.
The interest rate for Direct Student Loans borrowed between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 is 4.3%. The interest rate is fixed for the life of the loan.
The interest rate for Direct Student Loans borrowed between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 is 5.28%. The interest rate is fixed for the life of the loan.
From the Federal Student Aid Announcement:
Note: In response to the COVID-19 emergency relief period, the interest rate on all Direct Loans has been temporarily set at 0% until at least September 30, 2021. Once the COVID-19 emergency relief period ends, the rates as described in this announcement will be in effect for loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2021.
The Department of Education charges origination fees on Direct Loans. Fees are deducted from (versus added to) Direct Loan amounts; therefore, net disbursements to tuition accounts are less than the loan amounts being borrowed (and which appear on award letters). Note that it is the gross loan amount that must be repaid. The fee rates for subsidized (not available to grad students) and unsubsidized Direct Loans are as follows:
First disbursed Oct. 1, 2020 through Sept. 30, 2021: 1.057%
First disbursed Oct. 1, 2021 through Sept. 30, 2022: 1.057%
On or after you receive your finalized award letter beginning May 1, go to https://studentloans.gov and complete:
- Entrance Counseling (this provides information about your rights and responsibilities as a borrower) and
- Master Promissory Note (not required if previously completed under the Direct Loan Program)
Smith will be notified electronically after you have completed these requirements.
Loan proceeds are applied to the student's account in two disbursements, one each semester.
- Credit balances are automatically refunded to graduate students. Refunds are processed on a weekly basis beginning one week before the start of classes in the fall and spring semesters.
- We recommend setting up direct deposit with the Payroll Office for faster, easier access to refunds.
- Refunds should be expended with caution, as they are meant to cover expenses over an extended period.
- If financial aid or charges are revised due to course changes or withdrawal, all or part of a refund may be due back.
Refund warning: A loan will not pay out if any requirements are owed. And it can take up to three weeks from the time they are satisfied for them to be received and coded to accounts for the loan to disburse and, if the loan overpays an account, for the surplus to be refunded, as these are all weekly processes. Therefore, if you are relying on a refund from this loan, be sure to satisfy any owed requirements three weeks before funds are needed.
Loan repayment begins after separation from school (graduation, withdrawal, leave of absence) or dropping below half-time enrollment and a grace period.
The grace period is a period in which payments are not due and which lasts for six months unless reduced or depleted due to a previous separation from enrollment.
Subsidized loans disbursed prior to July 1, 2012 and after July 1, 2014 do not accrue interest during the grace period. Unsubsidized loans and subsidized loans disbursed between July 1, 2012 and July 1, 2014 do accrue interest during the grace period.
The monthly payment amount is based on the amount borrowed and the payment plan that you select. If a payment is not selected, the default plan is the standard plan with a 10-year repayment period. Payments may not be less than $50 per month; therefore, the standard plan could be less than 10 years depending on the amount borrowed.
Graduate Federal Direct PLUS Loan
A Graduate PLUS Loan is an option for students who require additional funding for graduate school after maximizing grants, scholarships and Direct Stafford Loans. Eligibility for the Graduate PLUS Loan is based on the student's credit history; you cannot have an adverse credit history. Available to U.S. citizens only.
The interest rate for Graduate PLUS Loans borrowed between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 is 5.3%. The interest rate is fixed for the life of the loan.
The interest rate for Graduate PLUS Loans borrowed between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 is 6.28%. The interest rate is fixed for the life of the loan.
The Department of Education charges origination fees on Direct Loans. Fees are deducted from (versus added to) Direct Loan amounts; therefore, net disbursements to tuition accounts are less than the loan amounts being borrowed (and which appear on award letters). Note that it is the gross loan amount that must be repaid. The fee rates for Grad PLUS Loans are as follows:
First disbursed Oct. 1, 2020 through Sept. 30, 2021: 4.228%
First disbursed Oct. 1, 2021 through Sept. 30, 2022: 4.228%
The maximum loan amount is the Cost of Attendance minus any other financial aid the student receives.
Loan proceeds pay directly to the student's tuition account.
- PLUS Loan requests are transmitted to Smith
- Credit-approved loans are reviewed for Smith approval
- Approved loans are originated (created in our system and transmitted to the Department of Education). The Department of Education then sends disclosures about the newly created loans directly to borrowers.
- Originated loans linked to valid MPNs disburse on a weekly basis, but not earlier than 10 days before the start of each term.
- The department assigns disbursed loans to servicers (companies that will manage the loans). Servicing includes, but is not limited to, billing, payment processing, deferment requests, etc.
Repayment of the loan begins six months after the student leaves Smith College, graduates or ceases to be enrolled at least half time. The six-month time frame is considered the grace period.
You can estimate your monthly loan repayments using the Federal Loan Calculator.
Students who have borrowed through the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan program are required to complete exit counseling if they are no longer enrolled at least half-time. Smith College will be notified electronically when this requirement has been completed.