The Federal Perkins Loan Program

Author: Rebecca Gardner

The Federal Perkins Loan Program is a unique kind of federal student loan that is made available to both undergraduate, and graduate students who demonstrate an exceptional level of financial need.

It is only made available at roughly 1,800 postsecondary institutions from across the nation, and is overall a very difficult type of federal education loan to qualify for.

Quick Facts About the Perkins Loan

Here are some of the basic fundamentals of the Federal Perkins Loan Program:

  • Low and fixed interest rate of 5%
  • The postsecondary institution acts as the lender
  • Undergraduate students can borrow up to 5,500 dollars per year (27,500 dollar career maximum)
  • Graduate students can borrow up to 8,000 dollars per year (60,000 dollar career maximum)
  • No miscellaneous fees as long as the loan is paid back on time
  • No payments due while enrolled at least on a “half-time” status
  • Nine month grace period

Final Statement About the Perkins Loan Program

The Perkins Loan is of course a great federal education loan to get, with its low costs and substantial loan amount limits. The problem is that very few students qualify with its high emphasis on financial need, and its low level of availability.

I tell students not to expect to qualify unless their expected family contribution is at, or close to zero, and their college participates in the program. The aid can be used in conjunction with other types of federal aid, so if you are given a Perkins Loan for a particular school year you should feel fortunate, and welcome such aid with open arms.

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