Loans: Frequently Asked Questions

Federal Loans for Students

Generally, students are eligible if they:

  • Are a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen.
  • Have a valid Social Security number.
  • Are registered with Selective Service.
  • Are enrolled or accepted for enrolment in a degree or certificate program.
  • Are enrolled at least half-time in your program of study.
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress.
  • Have filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the academic year.
  • Are not in default on a federal student loan or owe money on a federal student grant.

Read more about federal loan eligibility criteria.

Log in to Murphy Online using your username and password and do the following:

  1. Select "Financial Aid"
  2. Select "Award"
  3. Select "Accept/Decline Award Offer"
  4. Choose the applicable aid year from the drop-down menu (i.e. 2018-2019)
  5. Select the "Accept Award Offer" tab
  6. Accept or decline offered aid and click "Submit"
  7. Report your anticipated enrollment (enter 16 credits if you plan to be full-time)

Please review the disbursement schedule for the appropriate term of enrollment.

A promissory note is a binding legal document that lists the conditions of your loan and the terms of repayment. Instead of completing a promissory note every year, a Master Promissory Note (MPN) is a multi-year promissory note that only has to be completed once while attending St. Thomas. The MPN will simplify the processing of your loan(s).


The student borrower must complete the MPN for a Federal Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan online at https://studentloans.gov. Log in using your FSA ID username and password and select “Complete Loan Agreement (Master Promissory Note)” from the menu provided.

 

Entrance counseling provides an overview of the Direct Loan Program, including information needed to successfully repay the loans that you’ll be receiving to help pay the cost of college. Topics include:

  • Understand your loans
  • Manage your spending
  • Plan to repay
  • Avoid default
  • Make finances a priority

First-time borrowers are required to complete entrance counseling prior to receiving a loan to ensure that you understand your responsibilities and obligations.  

To complete entrance counseling, log in to https://studentloans.gov and select “Complete Loan Counseling (Entrance, Financial Awareness, Exit)” from the menu provided.

Exit counseling provides important information needed to repay your federal student loans successfully. Topics include:

  • Understand your loans
  • Plan to repay
  • Avoid default
  • Make finances a priority

To complete exit counseling, log in to https://studentloans.gov using your FSA ID username and password and select “Complete Loan Counseling (Entrance, Financial Awareness, Exit)” from the menu provided.

The FSA ID consists of a username (or verified email address) and password that gives you access to Federal Student Aid’s online systems and serves as your legal signature when completing electronic documents.

Visit Federal Student Aid to learn how to apply for an FSA ID and get answers to other frequently asked questions.

PLUS Loan for Parents

Generally, parents are eligible if:

  • They are a natural parent, adoptive parent, or stepparent (if stepparent’s income and assets are considered on the FAFSA) of a dependent student.
  • They are a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen.
  • They have a valid Social Security number.
  • Their student is enrolled at least half-time in a degree program.
  • Their student has filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the academic year.
  • They are not in default on a federal student loan or owe money on a federal student grant.

The parent borrower must complete the MPN for a Federal Direct PLUS Loan for Parents online at https://studentloans.gov. Log in using your FSA ID username and password and select “Complete Loan Agreement (Master Promissory Note)” from the menu provided.

A promissory note is a binding legal document that lists the conditions of your loan and the terms of repayment. Instead of completing a promissory note every year, a Master Promissory Note (MPN) is a multi-year promissory note that only has to be completed once while the student is attending St. Thomas. The MPN will simplify the processing of your loan(s).


You have met the requirements for an MPN if you had an approved PLUS loan and signed an MPN for a previous academic year and all of the following are true:

  • The MPN is designated for the same student*
  • The MPN is signed by the same parent*
  • The MPN does not have an endorser*

*If one of the above statements is not true, you will be required to complete a new promissory note.

A signed and completed Federal Direct PLUS Loan Application must be submitted online as confirmation that you wish to borrow a loan for this academic year. A Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be submitted each academic year before a PLUS loan application can be processed.


Repayment will begin within 60 days after disbursement of the full amount borrowed for an academic year. Interest accrues as soon as the first disbursement is made. There is no grace period for this loan; the parent borrower repays both principal and interest while their student is in school. The repayment term will be 10 to 30 years depending upon the repayment plan selected. Parents have the option to defer payments for PLUS loans originated after July 1, 2008 provided the designated student is enrolled at least half-time each semester (six or more credits), plus a six-month post-deferment period. Parents may request a deferment during the application process or contact the federal loan servicer of their PLUS loan.

In accordance with federal loan regulations and the St. Thomas disbursement schedule, the loan will be applied to your student’s account once all requirements are met. There is a loan fee of 4.264% deducted from each disbursement. If enrolled in both fall and spring semesters, one-half of the loan will be disbursed at the beginning of the fall semester and the remaining half will be disbursed at the beginning of spring semester. If enrolled in one semester only, the total amount of your loan will disburse at the beginning of the semester.

If your student receives additional financial aid and you wish to reduce or cancel your Federal Direct PLUS loan, it is important that you notify the Financial Aid Office in writing as soon as possible. You may cancel all or a portion of your loan after funds have been credited to your student’s account by notifying us in writing within 30 days after the date of your loan disbursement notice. Canceling your Federal Direct PLUS loan will not make your student eligible for additional unsubsidized loan amounts.

If the additional financial aid received by your student results in aid that is in excess of your student’s cost of attendance, our office will automatically reduce the appropriate loan fund. These loan funds will be returned to the U.S. Department of Education. The amount returned will appear as a charge on the student’s monthly account statement.

You may apply for additional PLUS loan funds by completing another PLUS loan application. The total amount of a PLUS loan may not exceed the cost of attendance minus all other financial aid. You must list the additional amount you wish to borrow on the new application. Please note that your credit history may be reviewed again to determine your eligibility.

If your application is denied due to credit, you will receive notification from the Direct Loan Applicant Services. You may choose from the following options:

  • You may try to have a credit status override completed by the servicer. Please contact the Direct Loan Applicant Services at 1-800-557-7394.
  • You may provide documentation to the Direct Loan Applicant Services if you have extenuating circumstances. Your request for a PLUS loan will be reviewed again by the servicer.
  • You may have a third party endorser co-sign the PLUS loan application with you. Any PLUS loans with an endorser added will require a new and separate MPN be completed by the parent borrower.
  • As of March 29, 2015, a PLUS borrower with an adverse credit decision who pursues an extenuating circumstance appeal or adds a credit-worthy endorser is required to complete an online PLUS counseling module at https://studentloans.gov. The completion of this counseling is required before the loan can be disbursed. Direct Loans will notify the borrower if this online counseling is required.

You may choose not to pursue any of the options listed above, and your student may borrow additional funds for the current academic year through the Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan Program. Please contact the Financial Aid Office to discuss this option.

The FSA ID consists of a username (or verified email address) and password that gives you access to Federal Student Aid’s online systems and serves as your legal signature when completing electronic documents.

Visit Federal Student Aid to learn how to apply for an FSA ID and get answers to other frequently asked questions.