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Frequently Asked Questions for Perkins Loans

What is a Perkins Loan?
How do I apply for a Perkins Loan?
How much can I borrow?
What is the interest rate?
Who is my lender?
How and where do I sign my promissory note?
Can I view my account on the web?
How do I do my exit interview?
Do I have a grace period?
When will I start repayment?
How much will my payments be?
Where do I send my payments? Forms? Questions? Correspondence? Name, address, and phone number changes?
May I pay my loan off early? Or at a higher rate than the minimum payment? Is there a penalty for paying it off early?
What kind of deferments are available?
What kinds of cancellations (loan forgiveness) are available?
What if I can't make my payment when it's due?
What is loan consolidation? How do I apply for consolidation?

What is a Perkins Loan?

Perkins Loans are a federally funded loan much like the Stafford Loans. However, the Perkins fund is much smaller, and is held by each school that participates in the program. As money is repaid by borrowers who have left school, the fund grows and is able to loan to new borrowers.

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How do I apply for a Perkins Loan?

You do not make an actual application for this loan. Perkins Loans are based on need, like some other financial aid that is offered. The Financial Aid Office uses the information you provide in your FAFSA to decide what your need is for that year. Based on that information, Financial Aid decides whether or not you are eligible for a Perkins Loan that year. Once need is established, the Perkins fund is awarded on a first come, first served basis. Keep in mind the fund has a limited amount to lend each year and once the money has been awarded for a particular year, no more can be awarded until it has either been turned down by a prospective borrower or a prospective borrower is not eligible for the loan. The Financial Aid Office makes the awarding decisions. This office handles your loan once you have accepted it.

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How much can I borrow?

Lending limits are set by both the year and a cumulative amount. Each year an undergrad can borrow up to $4,000 and a graduate student up to $6,000. The total cumulative limits are $20,000 for an undergrad who has completed two academic years towards a BA and $40,000 for a graduate student.

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What is the interest rate?

The interest rate is 5% and is a fixed rate – it will not change over the life of your loan like a variable rate does.

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Who is my Lender?

The University of Northern Iowa is your Lender. Our contact information is:

UNI Perkins Loans
Office of Business Operations
Gilchrist Hall 103
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0008

(319)273-6441 or 273-3539
fax: (319)273-3009
e-mail: penny.becker@uni.edu or joyce.willms@uni.edu

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How and where do I sign my promissory note?

When you are awarded a Perkins Loan by the Financial Aid Office, your award letter will give you a link to sign your promissory note. To complete your promissory note, be prepared to provide the following: your Social Security Number (sometimes referred to as your National ID), your parent's names, addresses, phones, the names any adult siblings who are living on their own, and the names of two other relatives or friends that you plan to stay in touch with after leaving UNI. These references do not have any responsibility for the repayment of your loan. Your references will only be contacted in the event we are unable to reach you regarding your Perkins Loan.

Please contact our office with any questions.

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Can I view my account on the web?

Yes. Access to your Perkins Loan account is available online via www.ecsi.net. We update your loan information nightly and post the information to the website. You will be able to view your account balance, update your address, request an automatic draw from your bank account,, locate any Perkins Loan forms, pay by credit card, view your 1098-E (interest paid for a particular year), Complete your exit, or link to additional education web sites.

You will need a pin number to access your account. Your 4-digit pin number is printed on your Final Truth in Lending document which is provided at the completion of your exit. It is also available on your monthly billing statement, coupons, or grace notice that is sent to you after you leave UNI. Our Perkins Loan department can also assist with providing your 4-digit pin number.

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How do I do my Exit interview?

Once you have applied for graduation, you will be invited to attend a group exit interview session where you will complete the paperwork we are required to gather from you at graduation. During this session we will go over pertinent information as it relates to the repayment of your loan; explain your benefits and rights, as well as your responsibilities.

If you fail to attend an exit interview, or you do not graduate from UNI, you will be sent a letter telling you how to complete your exit interview on-line at www.ecsi.net.

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Do I have a grace period?

The grace period of nine months starting when you graduate, drop below half time hours, or leave UNI for some other reason. During your grace period, interest does not accrue and no payments are due.

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When will I start repayment?

No payments are due while you remain in school. Your nine-month grace period begins when you graduate, drop below half time status, or leave UNI for any other reason.

During your grace period, no interest accrues and no payments are due. Interest will start to accrue the first day of the ninth month with your first payment due the first day of the tenth month.

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How much will my payments be?

Payments are set up at a minimum of $40 per month. There is a ten-year maximum length of time to repay the loan, so if you borrow an amount that cannot be repaid within the ten years with a payment of $40 per month, your monthly amount will be raised accordingly.

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Where do I send my payments? Forms? Questions? Correspondence? Name, address, and phone number changes?

The Office of Business Operations at UNI is in charge of all Perkins Loans. All payments, forms, questions, concerns, and correspondence of any kind should be sent to this address:

UNI Perkins Loans
Office of Business Operations
Gilchrist 103
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0008

(319)273-3539 or 273-6441
Fax: (319)273-3009
Email: penny.becker@uni.edu or joyce.willms@uni.edu

Be sure to include your University ID on all payments and correspondence.

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May I pay my loan off early? Or at a higher rate than the minimum payment? Is there a penalty for paying it off early?

There is no penalty if you pay your loan off early. This can be done by making a lump sum payment or by making larger payments than are required on your schedule. The advantage is that you will pay less interest and your loan will be paid in full more quickly. We figure interest once a month on the remaining balance so by paying even $5 more per month can make a good difference in the amount of interest you pay and the length of time you have to pay.

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What kind of deferments are available?

Deferments put off your payment, and in all but one case, stop interest from accruing. The most common deferment is a student deferment. As long as you are at least a half-time student, and our office is informed of your attendance, you can defer the repayment of your loan until you are out of school. We belong to a national database called NSLC that automatically notifies us when our borrowers are attending school at least half time. However, not all schools participate. If the school you are attending does not participate, you will need to provide us with enrollment verification from the Registrar at your new school verifying you are there at least half time.

Financial hardship deferments are available for those borrowers who are either unemployed or working only part time but who are actively looking for full-time work, or who are working full time but are unable to make their payment, receiving some kind of state or federal aid like food stamps or WIC. They all have a six-month grace period following the deferment. There is a three-year limit on these deferments.

If you are unable to make your payment but you don't meet the requirements for the deferments above, we have a forbearance we can apply to your account. There is no grace period following this kind of deferment. Interest continues to accrue during the deferment and must be repaid before a new deferment will be applied.

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What kinds of cancellations (loan forgiveness) are available?

Cancellations are available for a variety of employment.  The common thread is that you must be full time and work a full year to be eligible.  The employment areas that are eligible are teaching – in a low-income school, in special education, in a bi-lingual room, in a foreign language, in a teacher shortage area as determined by the state you teach in, in math or science; child and family service working exclusively with high-risk children; law enforcement and corrections in the enforcement of criminal laws; nurse or medical technician -- must be licensed, registered or certified; Peace Corps; Head Start; or specific early intervention professionals thatwork with infants and toddlers that fall under the definitions in the Disability Act.  Employees in a pre-kindergarten or child care program, attorneys employed in a defender organization, firefighters, faculty of a tribal college or university, librarians, speech language pathologists, military service in an area of hostility, and total and permanent disability cancellation.

Contact this office for more specific information or go to the cancellation section on this web page. 

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What if I can't make my payment when it's due?

Contact this office before the due date if possible. The worst thing you can do is ignore notices, billings, and phone calls from this office. We have many options available to us to assist you but we cannot help you if we don't know what you need. There are hardship deferment options we have available, we can make arrangements for a temporarily smaller monthly payment or, after discussing your situation, we may come up with some other option. We are very willing to work with you in any way we can to keep your account current.

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What is loan consolidation? How do I apply for consolidation?

A loan consolidation is when you have one lender buy your other federal student loans, making them all one loan. For federal student loan purposes, this means that you may combine any or all of your federally funded loans into one loan. Perkins Loans are eligible for this as well as Direct Loans and Health Professional loans to name just three.

To start the paperwork, you need to contact your Federal Direct loan servicer. Consolidating your Perkins Loan with y our other federal loans will give you just one lender to deal with every month. So, if you are having trouble keeping track of all your loans, or having trouble making the minimum payments on them, you may be better off including all your loans into a consolidation. Keeping a good credit history on all your loans is very important.

Disadvantages to consolidation are 1 -- The interest rate may be higher, and 2 -- Because you can stretch the payments out over a longer period of time, you may pay quite a bit more in interest.

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