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Almost all students qualify for loans, no matter how high their family income may be. The U.S. Department of Education provides the low-interest loans, which are called federal Direct Loans.
You usually qualify for a loan if you enroll for at least six credit hours in a program that’s eligible for financial aid. Almost all WCC programs are eligible.
Taking out a loan is a serious commitment. You’ll be required to sign a legal contract, called the Master Promissory Note, that gives you certain rights and responsibilities as a borrower. By signing this contract, you’re agreeing to pay back the money you borrowed—with interest—after you leave school. If you don’t, your credit can be ruined and the federal government can withhold your income tax refund and take part of your wages until the debt is repaid.
Types of Federal Direct Loans
There are two types of Direct Loans:
- Direct Loans for students to help pay for their education
- Direct PLUS Loans for parents to help pay for their dependent children’s education
What You Can Use the Money For
If you receive a federal loan, you can only use it to pay for educational expenses at WCC. These include:
- Tuition and fees
- Books, supplies, and equipment
- The rental or purchase of a personal computer
- Room and board
- Dependent child care expenses
- Miscellaneous expenses
Federal Loans vs. Private Loans
Federal loans are a better deal than loans from private lenders. Federal student loans generally have lower interest rates that are fixed, generous repayment plans, no repayment penalties, and no credit checks (except for PLUS Loans).
Track Your Loan
You can track your loan at the National Student Loan Data System. All of your federal loan information is reported to NSLDS, where you, your loan servicer, and other authorized users can access it.
For More Information
The federal government offers lots of detailed information about loans at StudentLoans.gov. Two publications are especially useful: