Bucknell students who apply for financial aid may borrow under several separate loan programs, as determined by the Office of Financial Aid. Since a student loan must be repaid after graduation or withdrawal from the University, it represents a serious commitment on the part of the student. We suggest careful borrowing, so do not borrow more than you need.

Federal Direct Loan Program

Basic Information

  • The 2019-20 academic year fixed interest rates for undergraduate students are 4.53% for subsidized Federal Direct Loans and 4.53% for unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans. These rates are for loans for which the first disbursement is on or after July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. (For graduate students, there is no subsidized version, and the 2019-20 interest rate for unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans is 6.08%.) Please be aware that interest rates are federally regulated and are subject to change.
  • Subsidized is need-based; the government subsidizes the interest while you are enrolled at least half-time.
  • Unsubsidized is not need-based; you will be charged interest until the loan is paid in full. If you allow interest to accumulate, it will be capitalized and added to the principal.
  • Annual combined subsidized and unsubsidized maximums are $5,500, $6,500, $7,500 and $7,500 in years one, two, three, and four of college, respectively. (Subsidized maximums are $3,500, $4,500, $5,500 and $5,500 each year respectively, and unsubsidized maximums are up to $2,000 each year.)
  • 0.25% interest rate reduction for automatically debiting your payment from your checking account when you begin repayment.
  • Federal regulations require two equal disbursements, so you will receive by electronic funds transfer half in the fall and half in the spring. For example, if you borrow $3,500 for the academic year, this is actually $1,750 per semester, and the disbursements will be $1,732 for fall and $1,732 for spring since the federal government currently deducts a loan fee of 1.062% from each disbursement. These fees are federally regulated and subject to change.
  • Federal funds are not disbursed until after the first day of class each semester.
  • First-time borrowers must complete Entrance Counseling before the first disbursement at https://studentloans.gov.  This session takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.  Your results will be sent to Bucknell University electronically.
  • First-time borrowers must complete the Master Promissory Note (MPN) before the first disbursement at https://studentloans.gov.  This session takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.  Your results will be sent to Bucknell University electronically.

    NOTE: If you are a returning student and previously borrowed a Federal Direct Loan within the last year, you DO NOT need to complete a new MPN.
  • You may also wish to review the section on Financial Awareness Counseling which can be found at https://studentloans.gov.
  • We suggest that you consider making interest-only payments while you are enrolled. Even a small amount per month will reduce total repayments later.
  • At 1.1%, Bucknell University's average U.S. Department of Education Official FY 2014 Three-Year Cohort Default Rate on federal student loans is extremely low. This means that 98.9% of Bucknell's students repay these student loans on time. Our rate reflects Bucknell's commitment to encourage students to limit their student loan debt and our graduates' abilities to meet their financial responsibilities. (The cohort default rate is the percentage of borrowers who enter repayment in a fiscal year and default by the end of the next fiscal year. The Department issues default rates according to the fiscal year that borrowers entered repayment.)
  • We strongly suggest that you consider specific factors to limit your student loan debt. Your major, your expected first job out of college and your expected beginning salary must be considered for you to make responsible decisions about what you can afford to repay after you graduate. In addition, if you plan to attend graduate or professional school, it is possible you will have to borrow to assist with those educational expenses.


  • Upon graduation or ceasing to be enrolled at least half-time, students who have borrowed federal loans are required to complete the exit interview process.
  • Repayment begins six months after graduation, dropping below half-time, or withdrawal.
  • Interest may be tax-deductible.
  • Some students choose to begin repaying while they are still enrolled, as even $25 per month can save a lot of money later on.
  • The Department of Education has various repayment options and repayment calculators on their website: http://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/understand/plans.
  • A student who enters into public service employment can have any remaining balance on Federal Direct Loans forgiven after 10 years of repayment while in public service work.
  • Students and parents who have borrowed federal loans can access their loan information through the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) website at www.nslds.ed.gov.

Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan Program

This is a non-need-based, credit-worthy loan that a parent may borrow in his or her name to assist with the student's educational costs. If you wish to borrow, we suggest that you wait until May 15 to apply, as the federal government will have to check your credit a second time if you apply too early. To ensure timely disbursement, please make sure you have completed all of the steps by August 1. (You may apply later if you wish, but this does not give enough time for the fall funds to disburse when classes begin.)

For a parent to borrow PLUS, here is the three-step process that needs to be completed:

  1. Student must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is required every year.
  2. Department of Education PLUS application -- the parent borrower must sign in at https://studentloans.gov.  This needs to be completed each year you wish to borrow.
  3. PLUS Master Promissory Note (MPN) -- the parent borrower must complete at https://studentloans.gov.  Please note: If you have previously borrowed a PLUS loan at Bucknell for the same student within the last year, it is not necessary to complete a new PLUS MPN.
  • The 2019-20 academic year fixed interest rate for Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loans is 7.08%. This rate is for loans for which the first disbursement is on or after July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. Please be aware that interest rates are federally regulated and are subject to change.
  • Maximum loan amount for which a parent may apply is financial aid cost of attendance minus any previously awarded financial aid. If you select "maximum," we will process the maximum loan amount for which you are eligible.
  • Flexible repayment terms with up to 10 years to repay, which includes interest-only payments or deferring principal and interest payment while the student is enrolled.
  • Interest may be tax-deductible.
  • No penalty for early repayment or payoff.
  • Provides a built-in insurance for death and disability that applies to both the borrower and the student at no additional cost.
  • Federal regulations require two equal disbursements, so PLUS funds will be applied to your student's Bucknell account by electronic funds transfer, half in the fall and half in the spring.
  • Due to loan fees charged by the federal government, the PLUS disbursement each semester will be 4.248% less than the amounts actually borrowed. This is federally regulated and subject to change.
  • Even though the parent is technically the PLUS borrower, some of our parents have made arrangements with their students to share in the repayment.
  • We recommend that you apply for the entire 2019-20 academic year at one time (rather than a semester at a time) so that a credit check will only be performed once, as that makes for easier processing.
  • If the parent is denied a PLUS loan due to credit reasons, then there will be three options:
          1. review of credit
          2. the parent may obtain an endorser for the amount requested
              (which requires a new PLUS MPN), or
          3. the student would be eligible for additional unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan
             (up to $4,000 for freshmen and sophomores and up to $5,000 for juniors and seniors).