Student Loans

Student loans allow you to spread the cost of education over time. Loans are available from the federal and state governments, as well as private lenders.

When you take out a student loan, you must pay it back--even if you do not complete your education.

You should explore scholarships, grants and part-time work to pay for college before you turn to student loans.

If you do need student loans, that’s ok too. Student loans don’t have to be an overwhelming burden if you borrow only what you need and follow a plan to pay them back.

Your financial aid award letter will list the federal loans that you are eligible for. You may also see an “optional loan program limit” on your award letter. If you need additional loan funds beyond your federal amounts, you may apply for an optional loan up to this stated limit.

It is your choice to accept any or all of the federal loans you are offered. You also choose whether you want to take out the full loan amount or just part of the money you could borrow.

Learn more about using financial aid and managing money in college.

Subsidized and unsubsidized loans are federal student loans for eligible students to help cover the cost of higher education. These are the most common loans WSU students receive.


Direct Subsidized Loan

  • Available to undergraduate students
  • Must show financial need. Financial need is calculated by taking the projected cost of education and subtracting the estimated family contribution amount from your FAFSA.
  • Must be enrolled at least half-time
  • The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest while you are in school at least half-time, for the six month “grace period” after you leave school, if you defer loan payments
  • You do not need to make payments while you are in school, during grace periods or during deferment or forbearance periods

Direct Unsubsidized Loan

  • Available to undergraduate and graduate students
  • No requirement to demonstrate financial need
  • Winona State University determines the amount you can borrow by considering the cost of attendance and other financial aid you receive.
  • You are responsible for paying the interest.
  • You do not need to make payments while you are in school, during grace periods or during deferment or forbearance periods. But interest will accrue and be added to the principal amount of your loan.

Learn more about the Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loan program and get answers to FAQS about student loans.

For a complete list of the terms and conditions governing the Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Loans please refer to the Federal Direct Loans Master Promissory Note (MPN) (PDF).


How do I apply for a Federal Direct Loan?

Before you apply for a student loan, you first need to complete the FAFSA Application.

Once your Financial Aid Application is complete, the Financial Aid Office will provide you with an Official Award Letter in Student e-Services.

Through this online tool, you choose whether to accept your federal loans and how much money you wish to borrow. You do not have to accept the full amount offered if you don’t need it.

Before your loans are processed, all first-time borrowers must complete the Master Promissory Note and entrance counseling. Your loans cannot be processed if you do not complete these required documents.

Make sure that you accept your loans before the semester begins so that your money is disbursed to pay your tuition bill in time.

Direct loan funds can only be held for 3 days so let the Financial Aid Office know if you will be late registering for classes. This will make sure your loan funds are not returned and your loan isn’t cancelled.

The Perkins Loan Program ended Sept. 30, 2017. No new loans can be awarded after that date.

Federal Perkins Loans will not be available for the 2019-2020 award year and beyond.


Current Perkins Loan Borrowers

If you already have a Federal Perkins Loan, contact WSU Financial Aid if you have any questions.

Once you graduate or drop below half-time enrollment, you have 9 months before you must begin making loan payments. Educational Computer Systems Incorporated (ECSI) is the loan servicer for Federal Perkins Loans for WSU students.

Perkins loan borrowers will receive an e-mail from ECSI with instructions on how to complete exit counseling online.

Graduate students can borrow the unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan and the Federal PLUS Loan.

You will need to complete the FAFSA application to apply for these loans.

You will also need to meet the following criteria:

  1. Be admitted as a regular graduate student seeking a degree. Graduate special students are not eligible for federal loans and will be referred to alternative private loans.
  2. Be enrolled in at least 3 graduate credits for disbursement at a half time status and 6 graduate credits for full time status
  3. Complete the loan processing steps
  4. Complete the entrance counseling and MPN requirements
  5.  Successfully set up direct deposit
  6. Meet satisfactory academic progress standards

Federal PLUS Loan

PLUS loans are federal loans that parents take out to help pay for the education of their dependent undergraduate students.

Your student will need to have a current FAFSA on file in the WSU Financial Aid Office. They also must be enrolled at least half-time (6 undergraduate credits).

You will need to have a Master Promissory Note on file for each student you are borrowing for. You will also complete a new PLUS Loan application every time you want to borrow. 

Learn more about the Federal PLUS Loan program and get answers to FAQS about student loans.

For a complete list of the terms and conditions governing the Federal PLUS Loans, please refer to the Federal PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN) (PDF).

If you are denied the PLUS loan, please contact the Financial Aid Office as they may have other ways to help you.

WSU does not endorse specific lenders or loan products. Please contact the lender directly for the terms and conditions of the loans.

MN SELF Loan

The MN SELF Loan is an optional private loan through the state of Minnesota.

To borrow a MN SELF loan, you must:

  • Complete a FAFSA application
  • Be enrolled in an eligible school in Minnesota or be a Minnesota resident enrolled in an eligible out-of-state school
  • Be enrolled at least half-time in a certificate, associate, bachelor's or graduate degree program
  • Be making satisfactory academic progress
  • Up to date on student loan payments

Learn more about how to apply for a SELF loan and other frequently asked questions.

Private Educational Loans

If you have exhausted free money (grants and scholarships), and federal and state financial aid (loans and work study), it may be time to consider a private educational loan.

Private Educational Loans are student loans offered through private lenders, usually a bank or credit union.

Students typically need a credit worthy co-signer. As with any type of private loan, the co-signer will take on the debt if the student does not make payments.

Private student loans are not eligible for any federal loan repayment options. The private lender sets the terms and schedule for repayment.

Learn more about applying for a private education loan and compare loan options at FASTChoice.