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Impact x2 Qais

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How can we work together to promote better cultural understanding worldwide?

Qais Akbar Omar (GRS’16), a graduate student in the Creative Writing Program, has published a much-praised memoir, A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story. He recalls how the violence and tumult of civil war jolted his family, who, despite losing relatives, their home, and possessions, continued to nurture his wish to attend a university.

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With your help, students like Qais gain the skills they need to tell their story and give us a broader understanding of the world.

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Federal Stafford Loans

The Federal Direct Stafford Loan is a low-interest loan available to students for post secondary educational expenses. Most matriculated students are eligible for an Unsubsidized Direct Stafford Loan each academic year. The loan is made to the student who is responsible for repayment. The interest rate for all Stafford Loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2016 and prior to July 1, 2017 is a fixed rate of 5.31%.

Subsidized Direct Loan: As of July 1, 2012 Subsidized Loans are no longer available for graduate students.

Unsubsidized Direct Loan: The government will not pay interest while a student is in school. Interest accrues as soon as the loan is disbursed, and must be paid or capitalized, during periods of in-school enrollment and/or deferment.

You are eligible to participate in the Federal Direct Loan Program if you are: (1) a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; (2) enrolled in a degree program on at least a half-time basis and credits count towards the degree; and (3) making satisfactory academic progress. This requires that you have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 (grades of I and C+ or lower are interpreted as failures).

Graduate and professional students are eligible to borrow up to $20,500 in an Unsubsidized Direct Loan. The cumulative maximum for the Federal Direct Stafford/Ford Loan Program is $23,000 for undergraduates, and $138,500 for graduate and professional students, including any amount borrowed for undergraduate study.

  • Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The form is available online at Our Title IV code is 002130.
  • Complete a Stafford Loan Request Form and return it to the Graduate School Financial Aid Office at 705 Commonwealth Avenue, Room 112.
  • Complete a Direct Loan Master Promissory Note if this is you are a first time borrower or if you have not borrowed a Stafford Loan within the last five years. Go to and select Promissory Note under Loan Resources.
  • Since the Master Promissory Note does not list loan amounts and since a previous borrower may not receive a Master Promissory Note, the Graduate School will send all students a notification letter, which will list their approved loan amounts. This notification will be mailed to students once the FAFSA and Loan Request Form are complete, usually in early July. Students can also check on the status of loan funds by accessing the Student Link.
  • If you are a first-time borrower, federal regulations require you to complete entrance counseling prior to crediting your loan funds to your student account. You must fulfill this requirement online by accessing, under Loan Resources. Students who have borrowed a Federal Stafford Loan previously at another institution can have this requirement waived by submitting documentation of previous Federal Stafford Loan borrowing. Note that federal loan funds will not be disbursed until this requirement is completed; therefore it is advised that entrance counseling be completed as early as possible.

Once the loan servicer has approved your loan, the loan amount minus the origination fee will be electronically credited to your student account within five to ten business days.  Effective for loans whose first disbursement will occur on or after 10/1/15 and before 10/1/16, the origination fee will be 1.068%.  For loans whose first disbursement will occur on or after 10/1/16 and before 10/1/17, the origination fee will be 1.069%.  This fee is determined by the U.S. Department of Education.  Funds cannot be disbursed until the ENTRANCE COUNSELING requirement has been fulfilled, until you have signed a Master Promissory Note, and until you are registered for the semester.

If there is a credit on your student account after loan funds have disbursed (this does not include pending credits since this means the loan funds have not yet arrived), you may request a refund by completing an online request for electronic refund to your bank account by logging into the Student Link, select the Money Matters tab, then Student Account Inquiry. Click Request a Refund in the upper right hand corner.

Federal legislation requires that all Federal Direct Stafford Loans be disbursed in two equal installments. The second disbursement cannot be made available until halfway through the loan period. This means that for students who are attending both semesters of the academic year, half the loan amount is available in the fall and the other half is available in the spring. For students borrowing for one semester only (January graduates or students beginning their studies in January), the loan is disbursed in one lump sum.