A grouping of one or more Direct Loans disbursed by the U.S. Department of Education. Borrowers can have one or more accounts. Each account has a unique number assigned to identify it. The format of an account number is your Social Security Number (SSN) plus a one-digit identifier added to the end (e.g., 123-45-6789-1). If you receive a notice that affects all of your possible accounts, the account number on the notice may be abbreviated to the Social Security Number only.
The process whereby interest accumulates on your loan. When we speak of
"interest accruing on your loan," we mean that the interest due on your loan
- Alternative Documentation of Income (ADOI)
A form that is used to accurately identify the income level of borrowers on, or requesting to be on, the
Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) or Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan. The Alternative Documentation form
is used in situations when obtaining income information from the IRS is inappropriate such as the first year
or two of repayment on your loan(s) or when we are unable to obtain income information from the
Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Individual who signed and agreed to the terms in the promissory note and is
responsible for repaying a loan.
Some student loan programs allow for all or part of the total loan principal and
accrued interest to be canceled in certain circumstances. A canceled loan may also
be referred to as a "discharged loan."
Adding unpaid accrued interest to the principal balance. Capitalizing interest increases
the principal amount of the loan and the total cost of the loan. This occurs at the end
of a deferment, forbearance, or
grace period on Unsubsidized Loans, and at the end of a
forbearance period on a Subsidized Loan.
Note: If you are repaying under the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan and have a
partial financial hardship when a deferment or forbearance ends, accrued interest (1) will
capitalize only after your partial financial hardship ends or you leave the IBR Plan and (2)
will not capitalize after your deferment and/or forbearance ends.
- Collection Costs
When a defaulted Direct Loan or FFEL is included in a Direct Consolidation Loan,
collection costs of up to 18.5 percent of the outstanding principal and interest are
added to the outstanding balance. When defaulted Perkins Loans and Health and Human
Service (HHS) loans are consolidated, collection costs are also added. However,
collection costs on these loans may exceed 18.5 percent of the outstanding principal
The process of combining one or more eligible educational loans into a single new loan.
The Direct Loan Program offers a Direct Consolidation Loan for those borrowers who are
interested in consolidating their eligible educational loans.
- Consolidation Hold
Delays the processing of your Direct Consolidation Loan until closer to the end of your
grace period if any of
the loans you want to consolidate are in a grace period.
Normally, when you consolidate your existing loan(s) into a new Direct Consolidation Loan, you will be required to
start repayment of your new loan immediately. However, if any loan you want to consolidate is still in a grace
period, you can delay entering repayment on your new Direct Consolidation Loan until closer to your
grace period end date by entering your expected grace period end date (month and year) in the space provided on the
application. We will start processing your application about 45 days before the expected grace period end date
that you provide. If you leave the expected grace period end date blank on your consolidation application, your
Direct Consolidation Loan will enter repayment immediately.
You can select a date up to nine (9) months into the future. If your grace end date is more than 9 months
away, wait to submit your application.
Failure to repay a loan according to the terms agreed to when borrowers signed their
promissory notes. Default occurs when a Direct Loan
borrower becomes 270 days delinquent in making payments
on their loan(s). The consequences of default can be severe.
- Default Aversion
The activities of a guaranty agency that are designed to prevent a default by a borrower who
is at least 60 days delinquent and that are directly related to providing collection assistance
to the lender.
A deferment is a temporary suspension of a borrower's monthly loan payment. There
are many different types of deferments available.
During deferment of subsidized loans, principal payments are postponed and interest does not accrue.
During deferment of unsubsidized loans, principal payments are postponed but interest
continues to accrue. Accrued unpaid interest will be added to the principal balance (capitalized)
of the loan(s) at the end of the deferment period. This will increase the amounts borrowers owe.
Note: If you are repaying under the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan and have a partial financial hardship
when a deferment ends, interest accrued during deferment will not be capitalized until after your partial financial
hardship ends or you leave the IBR Plan.
Delinquency status indicates that borrowers’ accounts have become past due on payment. This occurs when
borrowers’ loan payments are not received by the due dates. Accounts remain delinquent until borrowers
bring their accounts current with payments, deferments, or forbearances. If borrowers’ accounts have
become delinquent and the borrowers are unable to make payments, deferments or forbearances should be considered.
- Dependent student(dependent undergraduate student)
A student who does not meet any of the criteria for an independent student. An independent student is at least 24 years old,
married, a graduate or professional student, a veteran, a member of the armed forces, an orphan, a ward of the court, or
someone with legal dependents other than a spouse.
- Direct Loan Servicing Center
The U.S. Department of Education's agent contracted to collect Direct Loans
and handle deferments, forbearances, and repayment options
- Direct PLUS Loan (PLUS Loan)
Direct PLUS Loans are unsubsidized loans available to parents of dependent students, and to students
enrolled in graduate or professional programs. These loans are available regardless of financial need and the amount of
eligibility depends on the total cost of education.
Payment of loan proceeds by the lender. During consolidation, this term refers to sending payoffs to the loan holders of the underlying loans being consolidated.
- Disclosure Statement
A statement showing a borrower's loan term, payment schedules and monthly payment amount for
- Eligible Loans
The following federal education loans are eligible for consolidation into a Direct
- Direct Loan Types
- Direct Subsidized Loans
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans
- Direct PLUS Loans (for parents or graduate and professional students)
- Direct Subsidized Consolidation Loans
- Direct PLUS Consolidation Loans
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Including Direct Unsubsidized Loans (TEACH) (converted from TEACH Grants)
- Non Direct Loan Types
- Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans
- Guaranteed Student Loans (GSL)
- Federal Insured Student Loans (FISL)
- Federal Perkins Loans
- Unsubsidized and Nonsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans
- Federal Supplemental Loans for Students (SLS)
- Unsubsidized Federal Consolidation Loans
- National Direct Student Loans (NDSL)
- National Defense Student Loans (NDSL)
- Subsidized Federal Consolidation Loans
- Auxiliary Loans to Assist Students (ALAS)
- Health Professions Student Loans (HPSL)
- Health Education Assistance Loans (HEAL)
- Federal PLUS Loans (for parents or for graduate and professional students)
- Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)
- Nursing Student Loans (NSL)
- Loans for Disadvantaged Students (LDS)
- Family Size
This number includes you and your spouse and is used to help determine your monthly payment amount for
the ICR and IBR Plans. Family size includes your children if they receive more than half their support
from you. For the IBR Plan, this includes children who will be born during the year you certify your
family size if for the IBR Plan. For the ICR Plan, family size can also include other people only if:
(1) they now live with you, and (2) they now get more than half their support from you
and they will
continue to get this support from you. For the IBR Plan, family size can include other individuals
if, at the time you certify your family size, these other individuals (1) live with you and
(2) receive more than half of their support from you and will continue to receive this support for
the year you certify your family size. For both ICR and IBR Plans, support includes money, gifts,
loans, housing, food, clothes, car, medical and dental care, and payment of college costs.
- Federal Family Education Loan Program(FFEL Program)
A Federal program authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act that provides loans
to eligible student and parent borrowers. The program consists of Subsidized and Unsubsidized
Federal Stafford Loans, Federal PLUS Loans, and Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Consolidation
Loans. Funds are provided by private lenders such as banks, credit unions, and other private financial
institutions. The loans are backed by the Federal government.
A period during which your monthly loan payments are temporarily suspended or reduced. You may
qualify for forbearance if you are willing but unable to make loan payments due to certain types
of financial hardships.
During forbearance, principal payments are postponed but interest continues to accrue. Accrued
unpaid interest will be added to the principal balance (capitalized) of the loan(s) at the end of
the forbearance period. This will increase the amounts borrowers owe.
Note: If you are repaying under the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan and have a partial financial
hardship when a forbearance ends, interest accrued during forbearance will not be capitalized until
after your partial financial hardship ends or you leave the IBR Plan.
- Grace Period
After borrowers graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment, loans that were made for
that period of study have several months before payments are due. This period is called the
Grace periods extend from 6 to 12 months after borrowers leave school:
- Most FFEL and Direct Loans have 6-month grace periods.
- Perkins Loans have grace periods of either 6 or 9 months, depending on when the loan was first disbursed.
- Health professions loans have grace periods of 9-12 months.
During the grace period, no interest accrues on Subsidized loans. Interest accrues on
Unsubsidized loans during grace periods, and this interest is capitalized when borrowers’
loans enter repayment.
Borrower's repayment periods begins the day after the grace period ends. First
payments will be due within 60 days after the repayment period begins.
Each loan has only one grace period. If borrowers return to school after the grace periods has expired, the borrowers’
loans qualify for deferment while borrowers are enrolled but return to repayment after borrowers leave school. There is
no additional grace period.
- Grace Period End Date
The date on which a grace period for a loan is expected to end.
When applying for a Direct Consolidation Loan, a grace period end date must be less than nine (9) months
from the date you apply, or your Consolidation application cannot be accepted.
A student is considered half-time when carrying at least one half the academic workload of
a full-time student as determined by the school.
- Health Professions Loans
Loan programs authorized by the Public Health Services Act and administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
(HHS) rather than the U.S. Department of Education. Although health professions loans can be included in consolidation loans,
borrowers should be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of consolidating these loan types because of the differences between
the programs. See the
chart for details.
HHS loans include:
- Health Professions Student Loans (HPSL)
- Loans for Disadvantaged Students (LDS)
- Health Education Assistance Loans (HEAL)
- Nursing Student Loans (NSL)
- Holder (also holder of loans/loan holder)
A holder (loan holder) is an entity that holds a loan promissory note and has the right to collect from the borrower.
- Income Contingent Repayment(ICR) Plan
A repayment plan that bases your monthly payment on your yearly income, family size, and loan amount. As your income rises
or falls, so do your payments. After 25 years, any remaining balance on the loan will be forgiven, but you may have to pay taxes
on the amount forgiven.
Each year your monthly payment will be based on your family size, annual Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) as reported on your federal
tax return, and the total amount of your Direct Loan(s). To participate in the ICR Plan you must authorize the U.S. Internal Revenue
Service (IRS) to inform the U.S. Department of Education (Department) of the amount of your income. This information will be used to
calculate your repayment amount, which will be adjusted annually to reflect changes in your AGI If you select the ICR Plan, you will
be billed for only the interest amount that accrues on your loan each month until you complete and return the required documentation.
We cannot place you on ICR Plan until we receive your completed forms.
- The Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan
The Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan is designed to cap your required monthly payment at
an amount that is affordable based on your income and family size. You must have a partial
financial hardship to initially select the IBR Plan and to continue to make income-based payments.
After 25 years of qualifying repayment, any remaining loan balance will be forgiven, but you may
have to pay taxes on the amount forgiven.
The IBR Plan is NOT available for repayment of Direct PLUS Loan(s) made to parent borrowers
or Direct Consolidation Loan(s) that repaid Direct PLUS Loans or Federal Family Education Loan
(FFEL) Program PLUS Loans made to parent borrowers. If you consolidate any parent PLUS loans
into a Direct Consolidation Loan, the new Direct Consolidation Loan cannot be repaid under the IBR Plan.
To participate in the IBR Plan, you must provide the U. S. Department of Education (the Department)
with information about your current income and family size each year.
- Independent Student
An independent student is at least 24 years old, married, a graduate or professional student, a veteran, a member of
the armed forces, an orphan, a ward of the court, or someone with legal dependents other than a spouse.
- In-School Status
The status of a loan prior to entering the grace or repayment period.
A loan expense charged by the lender and paid by the borrower for the use of borrowed
money. The expense is calculated as a percentage of the unpaid principal amount (loan
Money borrowed from a lending institution or the U.S. Department of Education that must be repaid.
The National Student Loans Data System
is a centralized database that stores information on all U.S. Department of Education loans and grants.
NSLDS also contains borrowers’ school enrollment information.
Borrowers can access this information online using their Department of Education PIN.
- Out of School
Borrowers are "out of school" if they are making scheduled payments on their
federal education loans (repayment) or they are in a period of grace, deferment, or
- Partial Financial Hardship
- For an unmarried borrower or a married borrower who files an individual federal tax return, a
circumstance in which the annual amount due on all of the borrower's eligible loans, as calculated
under a Standard Repayment Plan based on a 10-year repayment period, using the greater of the
amount due at the time the borrower initially entered repayment or at the time the borrower elects
the IBR Plan, exceeds 15 percent of the difference between the borrower's Adjusted Gross Income
(AGI) and 150 percent of the poverty guideline for the borrower's family size; or,
- For a married borrower who files a joint federal tax return with his or her spouse, a circumstance
in which the annual amount due on all of the borrower's eligible loans and, if applicable, the
spouse's eligible loans, as calculated under a Standard Repayment Plan based on a 10-year
repayment period, using the greater of the amount due at the time the loans initially entered
repayment or at the time the borrower or spouse elects the IBR Plan, exceeds 15 percent of the
difference between the borrower's and spouse's AGI and 150 percent of the poverty guideline for
the borrower's family size.
- Payment Amount
The total amount of a borrower's most recent payment.
- Payment Date
The date borrower’s payments are received and applied to their loan accounts.
Your PIN serves as your identifier to allow access to personal information in various U.S. Department of Education systems.
Your PIN also acts as your digital signature with some online forms. Use your PIN to electronically sign your online Loan
Consolidation Application and Promissory Note, Deferment, or Forbearance forms.
If you do not already have a PIN, you can request one online by selecting the Request a
PIN button link located on the left menu bar. The PIN you will receive will be your universal U.S. Department of Education PIN.
- PLUS Loan
PLUS Loans are available to parents of dependent graduate students and to students enrolled in graduate
and professional programs. PLUS loans are unsubsidized loans that accrue interest from the date of disbursement.
is an amount in excess of the amount due on a loan. If borrowers have more than one Direct Loan, they must specify which loan they are
prepaying. Like all other Direct Loan payments, a prepayment first will be applied to any outstanding fees and charges, next to outstanding
interest, and then to the principal balance of the loan(s). There is never a penalty for prepaying principal or interest on Direct Loan
- Principal Loan Balance Outstanding (principal balance)
The total principal amount outstanding on a borrower's Direct Loan(s). Principal balance
will include the original amount(s) disbursed for the loan(s), any adjustments made to the
loan disbursement amount, and any interest capitalized on the account(s).
- Promissory Note
The binding legal document that borrowers sign when they obtain loans. Promissory notes define
the conditions under which funds are provided and the terms under which borrowers agree to pay
back the loan. Promissory notes include information about the interest rate and about deferment
and cancellation provisions.
- Reasonable and Affordable Payments
Rehabilitating a defaulted loan or making satisfactory payment arrangements requires borrowers to make
"reasonable and affordable" payments. The holder of a Direct Loan or FFEL Program loan determines on a
case-by-case basis what constitutes a reasonable and affordable payment on defaulted loans. Loan holders
consider disposable income and such expenses as housing, utilities, food, medical costs, work related expenses,
dependent care, and other Federal education loan debt. Borrowers are then provided with a written statement of
the payment and an opportunity to object to those terms.
- Rebate (Direct Loan Up-Front Interest Rebate Program)
The amount of the up-front interest rebate given to Direct Subsidized Loan, Direct
Unsubsidized Loan and Direct Plus Loan borrowers beginning with loans made for the 2000 -
2001 program year. The rebate amount is equal to 1.5 percent of the loan amount borrowed.
Borrowers must make their first 12 required monthly payments on time or the rebate amount
will be added back to the principal balance on their loans.
The total amount of funds returned to the Direct Loan Program as unused for the student's
The process of bringing a loan out of default and removing the default notation on a borrower's credit report.
To rehabilitate a Direct or FFEL loan, a borrower must make at least nine (9) full payments of an agreed amount
within twenty (20) days of their monthly due dates over a ten (10) month period. To rehabilitate a Perkins Loan,
a borrower must make twelve (12), on-time, monthly payments of an agreed amount to the Department.
Rehabilitation terms and conditions vary for other loan types and can be obtained directly from loan holders.
- Repayment (also repayment period)
Making payments on a loan. The "repayment period" is the period during which
payments are required to be made.
- Repayment Plan(s)
The Direct Consolidation Loan Program offers multiple repayment plans with various term selections:
- Standard Repayment Plan - Under this plan, you will pay a fixed amount of at least $50 each month for up to 10 to 30 years, based
on your total education indebtedness. This plan may result in lower total interest paid when compared
to repayment under one of the graduated plans.
If you have not selected a repayment plan by the time repayment begins, your loan(s) will be placed on the Standard Repayment Plan.
- Graduated Repayment Plan - Under this plan, you will pay a minimum payment amount at least equal to the amount of interest
accrued monthly for up to 10 to 30 years, based on your total education indebtedness. Your payments start out low, and then
increase every two years. Generally, the amount you will repay over the term of your loan will be higher under the
Consolidation Graduated Repayment Plan than under the Consolidation Standard Repayment Plan. This plan may be beneficial
if your income is low now but is likely to steadily increase.
- Extended Repayment Plan - To qualify for this plan, your Direct Loan balance must be greater than $30,000, and you will
have up to 25 years to repay your loan(s). Plan options include:
- Fixed Monthly Payment Option - You will pay a fixed amount of at least $50 each month for up to 25 years. Repayment under this plan will result in lower total interest paid when compared to graduated plans with similar terms.
- Graduated Monthly Payment Option - You will pay a minimum payment amount of at least $50 or the amount of interest accrued monthly, whichever is greater, for up to 25 years. Your payments start out low and then increase every two years. Repayment under this plan may provide lower initial monthly payments, although the total interest paid may be greater when compared to plans with similar terms with fixed payments. This plan may be beneficial if your income is low now but is likely to steadily increase.
**Extended repayment terms are available to Direct Loan borrower with no outstanding principal or interest balances as of October 7, 1998 and with more than $30,000 in Direct Loans.
- Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan - payment amount is based on your income (and your spouse's income, if you are married), loan balance and family size, and can vary year-to-year for up to 25 years.
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan - payment amount is based on your income (and your spouse's income, if you are married and you and your spouse file joint tax returns) and family size, and can vary year-to-year for up to 25 years. You must be experiencing a partial financial hardship to enroll in the IBR Plan.
- Satisfactory Repayment Arrangements
Borrowers in default on Direct Loan and FFEL Program loans who wish to consolidate their loans in a plan other
than the Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) plan must have made satisfactory repayment arrangements with the loan
holder(s). Three consecutive, voluntary, on-time monthly payments on a defaulted Direct Loan or FFEL Program loan
constitute satisfactory repayment arrangements. Borrowers must work with their current loan holders to set up reasonable
and affordable payments. Borrowers who wish to consolidate defaulted Perkins or health professions loans should contact
their loan holders for information on satisfactory repayment arrangements under those programs.
- Separation Date
The actual or anticipated date when the borrowers graduate, leave school, or drop to a less than half-time status. The separation date is used to determine the loan's grace period and the date the first loan payment will be due.
An entity designated to track and collect a loan on behalf of a loan holder.
- Simple Daily Interest
The method used to calculate interest on student loans.
- Status (Loan status)
The present state of your Subsidized, Unsubsidized, PLUS, or Consolidation loan(s).
An account will be either:
- Subsidized Loan
A loan for which a borrower is not responsible for the interest while in an in-school, grace, or
deferment status. Subsidized loans include Direct Subsidized , Direct Subsidized Consolidation
Loans, Federal Subsidized Stafford Loans and Federal Subsidized Consolidation Loans.
- Total Education Indebtedness
Total Education Indebtedness is the sum of a Direct Consolidation Loan, and other eligible education indebtedness,
up to an amount equal to the Direct Consolidation Loan. Total Education Indebtedness is used to calculate the
number of payments under the Standard and Graduated Repayment Plans (for examples, click here).
- Unsubsidized Loan
A loan for which a borrower is fully responsible for paying the interest regardless of the loan
status. Interest on unsubsidized loans accrues from the date of disbursement and continues throughout
the life of the loan. Unsubsidized loans include: Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, Direct
Unsubsidized Consolidation Loans, and Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, Federal PLUS Loans, and
Federal Unsubsidized Consolidation Loans.
- Variable Interest
The rate of interest charged on a loan that changes annually and fluctuates with a stated index.
- Verification Certification
The process by which a consolidation lender requests that a loan holder certify a loan's payoff balance.
- William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program (Direct Loan Program)
The Federal program that provides loans to eligible student and parent borrowers under Title IV of the Higher Education Act.
The loan programs include Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, and Direct Consolidation Loans.
Funds are provided directly by the federal government to eligible borrowers through participating schools.