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Federal Undergraduate Loans

Learn about federal loans for undergraduate students.


Please note:

  • Remember that borrowing money is a serious responsibility; you must repay loans with interest.
  • Before you borrow, pursue outside agency scholarships.
  • File your FAFSA by March 2 each year to be considered for the best types of financial aid awards.
  • Submit any additional documents requested by the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office before the May 21 deadline.
  • Review undergraduate eligibility requirements to make sure you're eligible to receive loans (or any other types of financial aid).
  • If you've already exhausted federal loan possibilities, you might wish to consider private loan programs, although these loans may have higher interest rates, and you may have to meet additional requirements such as an approved co-signer.
  • Read more about loans and about the Federal Direct Loan Program.

Learn more about these federal undergraduate loans:

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Federal Perkins Loan

Effective October 1, 2017, the Federal Perkins Loan Program expired. This loan program was not renewed by Congress.

If you have ever had a Federal Perkins Loan and need information about your loan, please contact your servicer, Heartland ECSI:

Heartland ECSI Contact Information:

Website https://heartland.ecsi.net

Phone Support: 1-888-549-3274

You may conact Student Business Services by phone at (858) 822-4727 or by email at studentbusiness@ucsd.edu. Additional information can be located on their website https://students.ucsd.edu/finances/financial-aid/types/loans/repaying.html.

Federal Direct Loan (Subsidized and Unsubsidized)

Annual maximum amounts for dependent undergraduates:

Undergraduate dependent students Base loan (100% subsidized or a subsidized/ unsubsidized mix, depending on your need) Additional unsubsidized-only loan for all dependent undergraduate students Additional unsubsidized-only loan for dependent undergraduate students whose parents have been denied a PLUS loan
1st year $3,500 $2,000 $4,000
2nd year $4,500 $2,000 $4,000
3rd year and beyond $5,500 $2,000 $5,000

Annual maximum amounts for independent undergraduates:

Undergraduate independent students Base loan (100% subsidized or a subsidized/ unsubsidized mix, depending on your need) Additional unsubsidized-only loan
1st year $3,500 $6,000
2nd year $4,500 $6,000
3rd year and beyond $5,500 $7,000

Is the Federal Direct Subsidized Loan need-based? Yes. You must demonstrate financial need to qualify for a Subsidized Loan. The federal government pays (subsidizes) the interest on your behalf during in-school and authorized deferment periods. You begin accruing and paying interest after you leave school, or when your deferment period ends.

Depending on your financial need, you may not receive the maximum loan amount in a Subsidized Loan. However, you might still be able to borrow unsubsidized funds up to the total maximum annual loan amounts.

Is there a time limit on how long I can receive Direct Subsidized Loans? Yes.

Is the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan need-based? No. You may borrow an Unsubsidized Loan regardless of your financial need. However, the federal government does not pay the interest. While you may defer the principal during in-school, grace, and authorized deferment periods, you're responsible for the interest upon disbursement. You may make voluntary interest and/or principal payments to your Repayment Servicer at any time prior to going into official repayment or you may allow the interest to accrue and be capitalized to your principal at the time of official repayment.

Funded and Disbursed by: The U.S. Department of Education through UC San Diego

Interest rates effective July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019:

Interest rate: 5.05% fixed for loans first disbursed July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.

Loan fees: For loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 2017 and by September 30, 2018, the loan origination fee will be 1.066%.

Repayment of principal begins 6 months after you are no longer enrolled at least half-time.

Interest begins to accrue, for the unsubsidized loan, after the loan is disbursed. For subsidized loan, interest accrues after you are no longer enrolled at least half-time.

To borrow a Federal Direct Loan:

  1. File your FAFSA and provide any requested documents.
  2. UC San Diego offers you a Direct Loan.
  3. Accept the award online using the Financial Aid tool.
  4. Sign the electronic Master Promissory Note (eMPN). This document confirms your agreement to repay the loan.
  5. Complete online entrance loan counseling (first-time UC San Diego borrowers only) on TritonLink (and not the Department of Education website).
  6. Loan funds will be credited to your UC San Diego student account (read more about how you get your money).

Federal Direct PLUS Loan


Amount: The annual maximum equals the cost of attendance minus any need-based and non-need-based aid.

Need-based/ subsidized? No.

Funded and Disbursed by: The U.S. Department of Education through UC San Diego. 

Interest rates effective July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019:

Interest rate: 7.60% fixed for loans first disbursed July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.

Repayment of principal and interest begins 60 days after the final disbursement of the academic year. Parents may request in-school deferments if at least one of these conditions apply:

  • The student is enrolled at least half-time
  • The student is in a grace period (6 months after the student is no longer atttending at least half-time)
  • The parent is enrolled at least half-time

For parents borrowing the Parent PLUS Loan:

  1. Parents should register for their FSA ID from the Department of Education.
    The Parent FSA ID acts as the electronic signature for the FAFSA and the Electronic Master Promissory Note.  You may obtain your FSA ID at https://fsaid.ed.gov.
  2. Complete a Direct Parent PLUS Master Promissory Note (MPN) if you are a first time Federal Direct Parent PLUS loan borrower. The MPN is a legal document in which you promise to repay your loan(s) and any accrued interest and fees to the Department of Education. It also provides you with detailed explanation of the terms and conditions of your loan(s). If borrowing for more than one student, you’ll need to complete a separate MPN for each. To complete the MPN:
    1. Go to http://StudentLoans.gov.
    2. Click on the green "Sign In" box in the "Manage My Direct Loan" box in the upper left-hand corner.
    3. Enter the parent’s Social Security number, first two characters of the parent’s last name, parent’s date of birth, and Dept. of Ed. Parent FSA ID (see #1 above).
    4. Click on "Complete MPN."
    5. Click on "Parent PLUS" and continue with all instructions until you receive the “Thank you for submitting the MPN” message.
  3. If the student and parent completed a FAFSA, submit the Direct PLUS Loan Request Form (see above) to our office by mail or fax.
    Important Note: To avoid processing delays, ensure both the borrower and student information you provide on the request form is an exact match to the information submitted on your Direct Parent PLUS Master Promissory Note. To ensure that the Parent PLUS loan funds are available by the registration fee deadline, we encourage you to submit your application at least 3 weeks prior to the deadline date.  Please refer to your student’s TritonLink Award Notification to determine how much you may be eligible to borrow.

Other information:

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