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Application Process: Federal Student Loans

Federal Student Loan Application Process

Apply for a Pin:

You, and your parent if you’re a dependent student, can apply for a PIN anytime. If you don’t have one by the time you fill out your FAFSA, you will be prompted to apply for one when you reach the Sign and Submit page of the FAFSA site. However, if you think the Social Security Administration might have the wrong name or date of birth for you in its records, go to www.ssa.gov now to find out how to correct any errors. Your information must be correct before you can get a PIN and your FAFSA can be processed. To apply for a PIN, go to the link PIN  and provide a few pieces of information such as your name, date of birth, Social Security number, and address. You will be given the option of creating your own PIN or having the site create one for you. If the site creates one for you, you can choose to have your PIN displayed immediately on the screen. Otherwise, you can request that your PIN be mailed to you, or you can choose to receive an e-mail that will give you the link to a site where you can access your PIN. We won’t send your PIN to you in the e-mail itself for security reasons. Instead, we’ll ask you for some personal information to identify yourself before we show you your PIN.  

Sign Master Promissory Note (MPN):  

The MPN is a promissory note that can be used to make one or more loans for one or more academic years (up to 10 years). There are two types of MPNs in the Direct Loan Program: one for Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans and one for Direct PLUS Loans.

If you are an undergraduate student borrower or a graduate/professional attending a school that is authorized and chooses to make multiple loans under the same MPN for more than one academic year, you may be required to sign only one MPN for all of your Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans. If you enroll in college as a freshman and borrow under the Direct Loan Program for all years of study, you may be able to borrow under this one MPN for all academic years.

If you are a graduate/professional student borrower attending a school that is authorized and chooses to make multiple loans under the same MPN for more than one academic year you may be required to sign only one MPN for all of your Direct PLUS Loans. You may be able to borrow under this one MPN for all academic years of graduate/professional study.

If you are a parent borrower whose child is attending a school that is authorized and chooses to make multiple loans under the same MPN for more than one academic year, you may be required to sign only one MPN for all of your Direct PLUS Loans. You may be able to borrow under this one MPN for all academic years of that child's undergraduate study. Note: Parents must sign an MPN for each child for whom they are borrowing.

Signing the MPN Electronically:

Click on the link MPN "Sign In" button located in the "Manage My Direct Loan" box. The Sign In page will appear.

Once signed in, click on the "Complete MPN" option located under the "Master Promissory Note" heading on the left menu bar. The Master Promissory Note (MPN) page will appear.

Select the type of loan you would like to receive.

Follow the instructions to complete, sign, and submit your MPN. 

Apply for FAFSA:

To apply for federal student aid, you need to complete the FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Completing and submitting the FAFSA is free and easier than ever, and it gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college or career school.In addition, many states and colleges use your FAFSA data to determine your eligibility for state and school aid, and some private financial aid providers may use your FAFSA information to determine whether you qualify for their aid.

When do I fill out the FAFSA?

The FAFSA becomes available in early January each year, and there are different deadlines for different programs. 

Federal Student Loans:  For the 2012–13 year, you can apply between Jan. 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013. However, there are a few first-come, first-served federal student aid programs, so be sure to apply as soon as you can.

State Student Loans: You can find state deadlines at the following link Deadlines.

College or Career School Aid: Check the school’s website or contact its financial aid office. School deadlines are usually early in the year (often in February or March).

Other Financial Aid: Some programs other than government or school aid require that you file the FAFSA. For instance, you can’t get certain private scholarships unless you’re eligible for a Federal Pell Grant—and you can’t find out whether you’re eligible for a Pell Grant unless you file a FAFSA. If the private scholarship’s application deadline is in early to mid-January, you’ll need to submit your FAFSA before that deadline.

You have to fill out the FAFSA every year you’re in school in order to stay eligible for federal student aid.

How do I fill out the FAFSA?

There are several ways to file:

  • Click on the link FAFSA to apply online.
  • If you need a paper FAFSA, you can download a PDF FAFSA or order a paper FAFSA.
  • Ask the financial aid office at your college or career school if you can file it there. Some schools will use special software to submit your FAFSA for you.