9 Steps in the Graduate Student Loan Process
For an orientation to the Student Loan process for graduate students at Penn State,click here
1. Submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid
2. Sign up for your semester classes
3. Additional step for Summer Loans
4. Follow loan instructions on eLion and your Penn State email
5. Complete the federal loan requirements
6. Set your Stafford Loan amount each semester before completing your registration
7. Apply for a federal Graduate PLUS Loan if you reach your Stafford max and need more funding
8. Complete your semester registration (pay your bill using your loan)
9. Check your Penn State email frequently
1) Submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid at www.fafsa.ed.gov once each year to apply for a Direct Stafford Graduate Loan. Use PSU School Code 003329. Once your FAFSA is in Penn State’s system, you will receive email notifications from the University with instructions for using your Student Aid Summary online. See www.studentaid.psu.edu for a “Guide to Your Student Aid Summary.”
2) Sign up for your semester classes. This is the first of two steps in the Penn State semester registration process (see #8). PSU graduate students must be enrolled in at least 5 credits per 14-week semester (typically two courses) to generate a loan. Your loan will be requested once your FAFSA is on file and you claim that you are done enrolling for the semester. When enrolling online, do not claim to be done until you have 2 courses on your schedule, or no loan will be generated.
3) Additional step for Summer Loans: Stafford funds not used in the fall and spring semesters must be requested, for a summer loan of up to $10,250.00. Make a Summer Loan Request after April 1 using the Summer Direct Stafford Loan Request on eLion. Watch for email confirmation that your request has been received and approved/denied, then continue to Steps 4, 5 & 6, as appropriate. If you reach your annual Stafford Loan cap before summer, you may request a summer Grad PLUS Loan after April 1 (see #7). Loan refunds for summer sessions are disbursed after the latest class on the summer schedule has begun; students must plan funding for early summer session books and supplies from other resources.
4) Follow the loan instructions provided on eLion and your Penn State email. After you obtain a Penn State Access Account, the Office of Student Aid will communicate important information to your Penn State webmail. If you are eligible for the Federal Direct Stafford Loan, it will appear on both your “Student Aid Summary” and as a credit on your eLion bill. Your Student Aid Summary provides current loan status, a Checklist with your next loan steps, and a Loan Debt Summary. As a student loan recipient, check your Penn State webmail and your eLion Student Aid Summary frequently.
5) Complete the federal loan requirements so Penn State can receive your funds from the government and apply them to your account. For details, see the podcasts at www.studentaid.psu.edu and your Student Aid Summary checklist.
a) Sign the federal Master Promissory Note for the Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan at www.studentloans.gov
b) Complete federal Loan Entrance Counseling for the Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan at www.studentloans.gov
c) Graduate students may be required to supply additional identity verification documents. If you receive a written request from the Office of Student Aid or see a list of requested items in your Student Aid Summary, respond promptly by the due date to avoid a delay in your loan process.
6) Set your Stafford Loan amount each semester before completing your registration.
In order to reserve Stafford funds for summer courses and keep debt as low as possible, students are encouraged to decrease fall and spring semester loans to only the amounts needed to pay for tuition, fees and books. To decrease your loan amount, first verify the amount of your semester loan on eLion, and then:
- Make no changes if you want to borrow the full allotment for the semester. Excess funds will be forwarded to you as a refund after the University drop/add period ends (in summer, after the second session begins).
- Request a Stafford loan decrease on eLion if you want a semester loan for an amount lower than the estimated loan amount shown on your eLion bill page
a) Log onto the eLion Financial menu. Select Student Aid Summary and verify that your loan is in place.
b) Check your eLion Bill page for the amount of your semester bill. You will see your loan amount listed under “Estimated Aid.”
c) Select Loan Decrease on the eLion menu. Follow the prompts to bring your unsubsidized loan total to the amount on your semester bill or to another amount you choose. If you wish to cancel your loan entirely, decrease the shown loan amount to zero. You will receive a confirmation message for your request.
d) Wait 24 hours. Check your Student Aid Summary and your eLion bill to verify that the change you requested is recorded on your student account. Complete your registration (see #8) when your loan decrease shows.
You have 30 days from the date your loan disburses to decrease your loan on eLion (if you have not completed your registration) or request a return of loan funds through the Office of the Bursar (if you have completed your registration).
If you do not decrease your loan within 30 days, the loan amount listed on eLion is awarded that semester.
Other Loan Adjustments: Students may request one loan decrease on eLion each semester. A loan increase or a second decrease may be requested by sending an email from your PSU email account to email@example.com. Write “Loan Increase/Decrease Request” in the subject line, and in the body of the message indicate your name, your 9-digit PSU ID number, the total semester loan amount desired, and the semester/year you are requesting a loan. Watch your Student Aid Summary for a notation that your request has been processed. Spring loan amounts will automatically match fall loan amounts; if you wish to borrow a different amount in spring, email a loan adjustment request for spring.
7) Apply for a federal Graduate PLUS Loan, only if you reach your Stafford Loan maximum and need more funding.
a) Review Direct Graduate PLUS Loan information at www.psu.edu/types-of-aid/loans/graduate-PLUS and www.studentaid.psu.edu/resources/tutorials/how-to-apply. If you need assistance calculating how much to request, visit www.studentaid.psu.edu/resources/tutorials/how-much-to-borrow
b) On the eLion Financial menu, select PLUS Request Form, and enter the amount you are requesting for the semester
c) Wait 48 hours for a response in your eLion Student Aid Summary
d) Sign the Master Promissory Note for the Grad Plus Loan (see your Student Aid Summary Checklist for directions)
e) If approved, a PLUS loan shows on your SAS and appears as a credit in the “Estimated Aid” section of your eLion bill
8) Complete your semester registration (pay your bill using your loan). Loan funds are only disbursed when registration is complete. Verify your loan amount on the “Estimated Aid” section of your eLion bill, confirm your attendance “without a payment”, and wait for a confirmation message. See also www.bursar.psu.edu/instructions.
Complete your registration by your bill due date. Students may request a due date extension on the bill page. Registrations completed late are charged a late fee. Loans are cancelled if registration is not complete. Click “View Transaction History” for a breakdown of payment actions. For information on loan refunds, see “Refunds” at www.bursar.psu.edu.
9) Check your Penn State email frequently. Your Penn State email account is different from your class Angel mail. You can check your email account at webmail.psu.edu or by clicking on “Webmail” at the top of your Angel page.
Contact the Great Valley campus Office of Student Aid at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-648-3311
For more information on graduate and professional student loans at Penn State, see www.studentaid.psu.edu
Contact the University Park Office of Student Aid at 814-863-0322, or submit a question online under “Contact” at www.studentaid.psu.edu.
Contact UsPaula Pierce
Office of Student Aid Director