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Types of Student Loans

 

Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, the U.S. Department of Education is your lender. There are two types of these loans available to students at California Western.  

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Direct Graduate PLUS Loans 

Current interest rates and loan fees are published on StudentAid.gov.

Some benefits of Direct Loans include, low fxed interest rates; fexible repayment plans based on income; cancellation, discharge, and forgiveness of loans under certain circumstances; and postponement options, including deferment and forbearance of loan payments if you return to school or experience an economic hardship.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans are not need-based and are available to eligible undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. The Unsubsidized Loan accrues interest from the date of disbursement, whether in repayment, deferment, forbearance, or while the student is in school at least half-time. (Direct Subsidized Loans are need-based loans available to undergraduate students only.)

Current interest rates and loan fees are published on StudentAid.gov.

Direct Graduate PLUS Loans are loans made to graduate or professional students to help pay for educational expenses not covered by other financial aid. Eligibility is not based on financial need. A credit check is required. Borrowers who have adverse credit histories must meet additional requirements to qualify.

The rates for Direct PLUS loans are higher than Unsubsidized loans but are typically lower than private alternative loans. Direct PLUS loans are eligible for federal loan repayment options such as Income-Based Repayment or Public Service Loan Forgiveness. 


As with other federal loans, a student must file a FAFSA to establish eligibility, even though the PLUS is not a need-based loan.


The PLUS requires a separate Master Promissory Note which must be completed by the student in either an electronic or paper form.

  • Students may borrow Graduate PLUS loans up to the school’s cost of attendance minus other aid.
  • There is no lifetime limit.

Current interest rates and loan fees are published on StudentAid.gov. 

Graduate PLUS loan borrowers cannot have a negative credit history.

  • PLUS lenders check a borrower’s credit prior to approving a PLUS loan.
  • A borrower cannot have a current delinquency of 90 days or more, and cannot have a Default, Bankruptcy, Discharge, Foreclosure, Repossession, Tax Lien, Wage Garnishment, Write-off of a Title IV Debt, or Open Collection in the last five years.

Students wishing to receive Federal Direct Loans must complete the following steps:

  • Submit a FASFA to establish eligibility for federal student aid.
  • Students must also complete a CWSL Online Aid Application and indicate they want to receive federal student loans.
  • Once the Financial Aid Office assembles the student's aid package, and the student has accepted one or more loans, the loan certification will then be electronically transmitted to the Department of Education. A Master Promissory Note will be sent to the student for completion if one is not already on file. Promissory notes may also be completed at StudentLoans.gov.
  • Once disbursed, the school will apply your loan proceeds directly to your student account.

First-time borrowers must complete entrance counseling.

Be sure to read your promissory note carefully, as it is your responsibility to understand the terms of the loans you are applying for. Make sure to keep copies of all loan documents for your records.

The application process for the Federal Graduate PLUS Loan is similar to the one for Direct Unsubsidized Loans. Although the Direct PLUS loan isn’t need-based, it does require a student to file a FASFA.  A student must complete and sign, electronically or on paper, a Master Promissory Note.

Before you receive your loan funds, first time borrowers will be required to:

  • Complete entrance counseling for graduate or professional students, a tool to ensure you understand your obligation to repay the loan.
  • Sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN), agreeing to the terms of the loan. Note, there are separate MPNs for Direct Unsubsidized and Graduate PLUS Loans.

In the typical case where the loan period covers two trimesters, half of the loan amount is disbursed at the beginning of each term.

  • PLUS loans have a standard ten-year repayment period and a minimum monthly payment of $50.
  • Repayment begins within 60 days, but payments can be deferred while a student is attending school at least half-time.
  • Borrowers may select other repayment options, such as income-driven payment plans, once they are no longer in school.

Student loans can also come from private sources, such as banks or fnancial institutions. These are often called private student loans. These loans are not an enhancement above a student's financail aid eligibility; the amount a student is allowed to borrow is limited by the school designated cost of attendance. 

California Western School of Law Financial Aid Office advise students to first consider federal loans before private student loans. Direct Loans have many benefts that private loans do not typically offer, such as: low fixed interest rates; flexible repayment plans based on income; cancellation, discharge, and forgiveness of loans under certain circumstances; and postponement options, including deferment and forbearance of loan payments if you return to school or experience economic hardship.

Bar study loans are private loans that can help cover your bar study and bar exam expenses. The Financial Aid Office does not provide recommendations on lenders. You may choose to research available lenders as you make your decision. Below are links to bar loan lenders for three lenders (in alphbetical order) we are aware of that offer bar study loans as of April 2023:

Discover

PNC Bank

Sallie Mae

A Direct Consolidation Loan allows you to consolidate (combine) multiple federal education loans into one loan with a fixed interest rate based on the average of the interest rates on the loans being consolidated. Explore your options before you consolidate, consider an income-driven repayment plan. Depending on your situation, this may be a better option to lower your student loan payments.

Learn more about loan consolidation and income-driven repayment plans on StudentAid.gov.