Financial Aid

Direct Loans

Students and parents who previously received loans through the Federal Family Education Loan (STAFFORD LOAN) Program will now borrow through the Direct Loan Program. The Direct Loan Program offers the same types of loans as the STAFFORD LOAN Program and Direct Loans generally have the same terms and conditions as STAFFORD LOAN Program loans, but instead of a bank lending the money, the U.S. Department of Education lends the money directly to students and parents. There are also some differences in the names of the loans. The Federal Stafford Loans (subsidized and unsubsidized) are called Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans in the Direct Loan Program. Federal PLUS Loans are called Direct PLUS Loans.

How to Apply

To apply for a Direct Student Loan, students must meet basic eligibility criteria:

  • Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid or Renewal Application. You can submit the form online or pick up a paper copy in the Financial Aid Office.
  • Be a United States citizen or an eligible non-citizen.
  • Be admitted to or enrolled in an eligible degree or certificate program at the College.
  • Be making Satisfactory Academic Progress as defined by the College.
  • Not owe a refund on a federal student grant or be in default on a federal student loan.

Students must complete the following steps:

  1. Complete Direct Student Loan Entrance Counseling.
    If you are a first-time borrower, you must also review this document about subsidized loan limits from the US Department of Education: Direct Subsidized Loan Eligibility for First-Time Borrowers. (PDF)
  2. Complete a Direct Student Loan Master Promissory Note
  3. Complete and submit a Loan Request Form to the Financial Aid Office via mail, fax or in-person.

How to Apply for a Direct Parent Loan

To apply for a Direct Parent Student Loan, students must meet the basic eligibility criteria listed above and parents must complete the following steps:

  1. Complete the Direct Parent Loan Promissory Note.
  2. Complete and submit a Direct Parent PLUS Loan Request Form to the Financial Aid Office via mail, fax or in-person.

Benefits of the Direct Loan Program

Direct Loans have the same annual and aggregate loan limits, the same deferment and cancellation provisions, the same interest rates; and most of the same repayment plans (Standard, Graduated, Extended, Income-Based) as the Stafford Loan program. Direct Loans also have some benefits that are available only in the Direct Loan Program

  • Lower interest rate on Direct PLUS Loans (7.9% vs. 8.5% for Federal PLUS Loans)
  • Up-Front Interest Rebate
  • Income Contingent Repayment Plan (in addition to the Income-Based Repayment Plan)
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
  • No interest charged (for up to 60 months) during qualifying periods of active duty military service (for loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 2008

First-Time Direct Student Loan Borrowers: Master Promissory Note

If you have not previously received a Direct Loan, you must complete a Direct Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN). A Stafford Loan MPN cannot be used to make Direct Loans.

The MPN is the legal document through which you promise to repay your Direct Loans and any accrued interest and fees to the Department. It also explains the terms and conditions of your loans. A Direct Loan MPN can be used to make loans for up to ten (10) years. You may complete a Direct Loan MPN electronically via the Web site at You also have the option of completing a paper Direct Loan MPN.

First-Time Direct Student Loan Borrowers: Loan Entrance Counseling

In some cases, you may need to complete Direct Loan Entrance Counseling.

  • If you are an undergraduate or graduate/professional student and have not previously received a STAFFORD LOAN or Direct Loan program loan, you must complete Direct Loan Entrance Counseling before you can receive a Direct Loan.

You may complete Direct Loan Entrance Counseling electronically at

Consolidating STAFFORD LOAN Program Loans into the Direct Loan Program

If you already have STAFFORD LOAN Program loans and will now be receiving Direct Loans, consolidating your STAFFORD LOAN and Direct Loan program loans together into a Direct Consolidation loan may make loan repayment easier. If you consolidate, you will have just a single monthly payment. Consolidating your STAFFORD LOAN Program loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan may also allow you to take advantage of certain benefits that are offered only in the Direct Loan Program, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness and the Income Contingent Repayment Plan.

To learn more about when you may consolidate; the pros and cons of doing so, and the application process, visit or call 800/557-7392 (TDD/TTY: 800/557-7395).

Additional Information

For additional information about Direct Loans, visit or the Financial Aid office for more information.

All Direct Loan Borrowers: Exit Counseling

Students are required to complete Exit Counseling after one of the following events:

  • The student drops or withdraws classes to less than half time or begins to attend as a less than half time student.
  • The student fully withdraw from the college.
  • The student does not begin classes in a subsequent semester.
  • The student completes and graduates from a program.

The college notifies the student via email to the student Virginia Western email account, or if the student is no longer attending, via a mailed letter to the address on file. The information provided directs the student to the federal government website to begin the exit counseling process. The student must ‘sign in’ and select the exit counseling option to meet the requirement.


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