In order to be considered for Federal and State Grant funds, students must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the specified deadlines

A variety of private (nonfederal) alternative educational loans are also available from individual lending institutions. For your convenience, lenders that have provided alternative loans to UMES students within the past three years can be found online by utilizing ELM Select.

Federal Direct Loans

The Direct Loan program allows eligible students to borrow funds directly from the Federal Government with no credit check involved.  Students must be enrolled at least half-time (6 or more credits for undergraduates; 3 credits for graduates) each semester to be eligible.  Direct Loans can be awarded as subsidized, unsubsidized, or both based on financial need and level of study.

  • Direct Subsidized Loans are awarded to undergraduate students based on financial need.  Interest on the loan is subsidized by the Federal Government during the student’s enrollment and grace period. 
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans are non-need-based loans awarded to graduate and undergraduate students.  Accrued interest is the responsibility of the student during enrollment and grace period.

First-time Federal Direct Loan borrowers are required to complete an Entrance Counseling session and a Master Promissory Note (MPN), before loan funds may be disbursed.  Both may be completed online at Federal Student Aid.

Note: Federal regulations required disbursements to 1st-time, 1st-year, Direct Loan borrowers must be delayed 30 days from the first day the semester begins.

Students generally begin repaying principal loan funds six months after graduating, withdrawing, or ceasing half-time enrollment.  While most borrowers repay their loans within the standard ten-year repayment period, various repayment options exist.

Annual Federal Direct Loan Limits

Freshman (0-27 credits)$5,500$9,500
Sophomore (28-55 credits)$6,500$10,500
Junior & Senior (56+ credits)$7,500$12,500

*For undergraduate Direct Loans, the subsidized portion (based on need) cannot exceed: $3,500 for freshmen, $4,500 for sophomores, or $5,500 for juniors and seniors.

*Dependent students whose parents are unable to obtain a PLUS Loan are eligible for Additional Unsubsidized Loans up to the independent student level amount.

Aggregate Federal Direct Loan Limits

Subsidized/Unsubsidized Combo$31,000$57,500
Graduate/Undergraduate Combo$65,500***$138,500

*Dependent students who were awarded Additional Unsubsidized Loans due to parent’s ineligibility for PLUS Loans are limited to independent student aggregate levels.

**This includes graduate-level subsidized loans which were discontinued as of July 1, 2012.

Once a student has reached their annual or Aggregate Direct Loan limits, s/he must explore alternative funding options.

Federal Direct PLUS Loan (Parent and Graduate)

Parents of dependent undergraduate students can borrow a Federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) to help pay for the student’s educational expenses.  Graduate/professional students can also borrow a Graduate PLUS Loan to supplement their financial resources.  While Federal Direct Loans have annual and aggregate limits, creditworthy borrowers may borrow a PLUS for up to the student’s cost of attendance minus estimated financial assistance.  As with Direct Loan borrowers, the student must be enrolled at least half-time in order for the borrower to receive PLUS Loan.  Additionally, the student must file the FAFSA.

Prospective PLUS borrowers must complete the online PLUS Application at Federal Student Aid.  If the applicant is not approved for a PLUS due to adverse credit, s/he can obtain a creditworthy endorser (excluding the student for parent borrowers) to receive the loan.  If approved, the borrower must complete a Direct PLUS Master Promissory Note (MPN), also at

Parent PLUS Borrowers

  • If an endorser is needed, the student cannot be the endorser.
  • If you are approved with an endorser, you must complete PLUS Credit Counseling.
  • If you are denied PLUS and choose not to apply with an endorser, the Office of Financial Aid will offer the student an Additional Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan ($4,000 for freshmen and sophomores; $5,000 for juniors and seniors).
  • On the PLUS application, you will be given the option of delivering any credit balance (refund) to yourself or to the student after the funds are disbursed. 

Graduate PLUS Borrowers

  • Independent students enrolled in an eligible certification program are ineligible for a Graduate PLUS Loan, which is made available to students enrolled in a program leading to a Masters or Doctorate degree.
  • The Direct PLUS MPN is separate from the Subsidized/Unsubsidized MPN that is required for the Direct Unsubsidized Loan.

Interest Rates for Federal Direct and PLUS Loans First Disbursed on or after July 1, and before October 1.

Loan TypeBorrowerInterest Rate
Federal Direct SubsidizedUndergraduate5.50%
Federal Direct UnsubsidizedUndergraduate5.50%
Federal Direct UnsubsidizedGraduate/Professional7.05%
Direct PlusGraduate/Professional or Parent of Undergraduate8.05%

The above interest rates are fixed for the life of the loan. For rates of Direct Loans first disbursed before July 1click here

Most federal student loans have loan fees that are a percentage of the total loan amount. The loan fee is deducted proportionately from each loan disbursement you receive. This means the money you receive will be less than the amount you actually borrow. You’re responsible for repaying the entire amount you borrowed and not just the amount you received.

For loan fees for Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and Direct PLUS Loans first disbursed on or after Oct. 1click here

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