University of South Carolina

Financial Aid & Scholarships


Applying for Educational Loans (Student and Parent)

The University of South Carolina presents several loan options for students and their parents that may assist in meeting educationally related expenses. These loan programs are funded by the federal government, the state of South Carolina, and lenders of private educational loans. Some of these programs are available to all students or the parents of undergraduate students who are enrolled at least half-time. Other programs have limited funding and will only be available as long as that funding is available.

Review Your Options: We do not encourage borrowing. While we will automatically notify students with complete applications of their Federal Direct Loan eligibility, you should pursue scholarships, grants, and student employment opportunities before accepting this or any loan. If borrowing still remains a necessity, we strongly encourage researching all of the loan programs available in order to determine the best choice (considering cost of borrowing, interest expense, repayment provisions, and potential loan servicing fees) for you.

Required Loan Counseling: Prior to receiving any federally funded student loan, you must complete web-based entrance counseling that will help you better understand your rights and responsibilities as a borrower. You will learn about loan terms, tips for developing a personal budget, and helpful advice on how to manage your educational expenses.

In order to sign in to complete your entrance counseling, you may need the PIN used to complete your FAFSA. Please allow yourself approximately 30 minutes to complete the required loan counseling.

Available Loan Options:


The Federal Direct Student Loan program offers low-interest subsidized loans to undergraduate students and unsubsidized loans to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Eligibility is determined by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The interest rate is a fixed rate and loan repayment begins 6 months after graduation or when a student drops below half-time enrollment.

Subsidized vs. Unsubsidized

Subsidized Federal Direct Student Loans are awarded to undergraduate students who have demonstrated financial need as determined by the U.S. Department of Education through the FAFSA. Interest is paid by the federal government until the student borrower must begin repayment.

Unsubsidized Federal Direct Student Loans are available to all students regardless of need. Interest begins to accrue from the date which the funds are disbursed. Repayment begins six months after the student graduates or ceases half-time enrollment.

How to Apply for Federal Direct Student Loans

If you wish to receive a Federal Direct Student Loan, please complete the following steps:

  1. Complete your FAFSA and any additional follow-up paperwork required by our office. If you have completed the FAFSA, check your eligibility through SSC.
  2. Accept or decline your Federal Direct Student Loan under Financial Aid, Awards, and then Award for Aid Year on SSC. Once on the Accept Award Offer tab you have several options. The first is to Accept all of your awards by selecting Accept Full Amount All Awards. The next option allows you to accept or decline awards individually in the drop-down boxes. The last option allows you to accept a Partial Amount of Direct Loans. To do this you may enter the new YEARLY amount you desire in the provided blank and select Accept in the appropriate drop down box.
  3. Sign your Master Promissory Note with the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program, if SSC indicates the necessity to do so.
  4. All new borrowers must also read and complete Entrance Loan Counseling.

Click here to review Federal Direct Loan Frequently Asked Questions.

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The Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) allows parents of dependent students to borrow a fixed interest, federally insured loan to pay educational expenses up to their student's cost of attendance that are not already covered by the student's aid package. Eligibility for PLUS loans is determined by the U.S. Department of Education based on the credit-worthiness of the applicant. If a parent is denied a PLUS loan due to adverse credit history, their dependent student may be eligible for an additional unsubsidized Direct Student Loan.

The Parent PLUS loan has a fixed interest rate of 7.9%. Repayment begins 60 days after the funds are fully disbursed. The repayment term is up to 10 years. Parents can request to have payments deferred while the student is in school; however, interest will accrue and be capitalized into the principle when repayment begins.

Parent PLUS loans are the responsibility of the parent borrower, not the student. The University of South Carolina encourages families to investigate all options prior to applying for a Parent PLUS Loan to determine if borrowing with more favorable interest rates and repayment terms is available.

How to Apply for a Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan

  1. Complete the FAFSA.
  2. Sign your Master Promissory Note with the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program.
  3. Complete the PLUS Request Process, through which you will receive a credit check and apply for the PLUS loan program.

Click here to review Federal Direct PLUS Loan Frequently Asked Questions.

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The Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan allows graduate and professional students to borrow a fixed interest, federally insured loan to meet University budgeted educational expenses not already covered by the student's aid package. Eligibility is determined by the U.S. Department of Education based on the credit-worthiness of the applicant. Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans have a fixed interest rate of 7.9%. Repayment is deferred until 6 months after the student ceases to be enrolled at least half-time.

The University of South Carolina encourages students to pursue their Federal Direct Student Loan eligibility prior to applying for a Graduate PLUS Loan due to more favorable interest and repayment terms.

How to Apply for a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan

  1. Complete your FAFSA. You are strongly encouraged to use your Direct Stafford Loan prior to applying for the Graduate PLUS loan.
  2. Sign your Master Promissory Note with the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program.
  3. Complete the PLUS Request Process, through which you will receive a credit check and apply for the PLUS loan program.
  4. Complete your Entrance Loan Counseling.

If you are considering a Graduate PLUS Loan, please click here for frequently asked questions.

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USC does not encourage borrowing private educational loans. Unlike federal student loan programs, private education loans are unregulated educational loans made by a private lender. Eligibility for these loans will generally be determined by your credit history and income or that of a required co-signer. Because these loans carry no federal guarantee, they should only be considered after your eligibility for scholarships, grants, and other gift aid has been determined and your federal loan eligibility carefully considered.

You are advised to thoroughly compare private loan programs before choosing a lender. Interest rates, fees, and other provisions of these programs may be subject to change; be sure you have all of the facts. Contact lenders directly to obtain detailed information regarding their loan products.

How to apply for a Private Educational Loan

  1. Do research to determine the lender that will offer you the best terms and conditions.
  2. Apply directly with the lender of your choice.
  3. Complete all documentation required by your lender and the federal government. (Please see Private Educational Loan-Self Certification Form)

Please note that due to recent changes in legislation, private loan applicants will be required to read, sign, and return additional disclosures, including a self-certification disclosure, in addition to signing the master promissory note. Most lenders will require the school also certify your eligibility for a private educational loan. This certification request may come after you have returned all required documentation to your lender, so you are encouraged to follow your lender's instructions carefully.

Lenders will typically provide a credit decision within a couple of hours. In most cases, if you and/or your co-signer have been approved for a private educational loan, a request for loan certification will be sent to us. Once we have received the certification request, we will determine the maximum amount of funds which you are eligible to receive. It will take approximately 48 hours for the awarded amount to appear on SSC once a certification request has been received.

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The State of South Carolina established the South Carolina Teacher's and Career Changer's Loan Programs to help encourage talented and qualified students to enter the teaching profession, or encourage individuals who are currently employed in another field to return to school and become certified teachers. These are loans which can be forgiven after completion of a service commitment to either a critical need subject or geographical area.

First and second year students may borrow up to $2,500 per year through the SC Teacher's Loan. Third year students and above are eligible to borrow up to $5,000 per year. The maximum loan amount a student can receive through the SC Teachers Loan is $20,000.

Career Changer's are eligible for up to $15,000 per year and up to an aggregate maximum of $30,000.

Funds are available to South Carolina residents who are either undergraduate or graduate students who express intent to teach after graduation. Applications are generally available in February each year; the application deadline for both loans is June 1st. Due to limited funding, early applicants have a better chance to receive a loan. All awards for these loans are subject to availability of funding.

These loans are administered by the South Carolina Student Loan Corporation.

How to apply for a South Carolina Teacher's or Career Changer's Loan

  1. Print a copy of the loan application from SC Student Loan Corporation or obtain a copy from the University's College of Education.
  2. Complete the application and submit it to the College of Education at Wardlaw College (room 113).
  3. The College of Education will complete their portion and send it to us.
  4. We will certify the loan and send it to the SC Student Loan Corporation.

Once SC Student Loan Corporation approves your application, we will be notified and add your loan to SSC.

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These three programs are administered by the University and require no application other than the completion of a FAFSA. All are awarded based on demonstrated financial need and as a part of the process previously noted in "How We Award Federal and State Funds". Funding in each program is limited and will be awarded to eligible students according to federal regulations.

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