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Federal Direct Loans are the most common source of college financial aid loan funds. Students must be matriculated and at least half-time (six credits at Salem State) to be eligible to receive these loans. There are two types of Federal Direct Loans:

  • Subsidized Direct Loans are need-based, and the government pays the interest on these loans while you are in school in at least half-time credits, during a six-month grace period immediately preceding repayment, and during any authorized deferment.
  • Unsubsidized Direct Loans are not need-based, and you are responsible for all of the interest that accrues on the loan, including while you are in school. You may make arrangements with your lender to make "interest only" payments while you are enrolled in school.

Direct Loan amounts offered depend on your grade level and dependency status.

Graduate students are awarded Direct Loans up to the total cost of attendance. The amount of Subsidized versus Unsubsidized is dependent on your financial need. Eligible graduate students may receive up to $8,500 of their total Direct Loan award in Subsidized Loan with the remainder offered in Unsubsidized Loans.

Dependent undergrads may receive the following*:

(*Remember: subsidized loans are need-based, if you are not eligible for full subsidized loan you will be awarded unsubsidized up to the maximum for your grade level)


Year Subsidized Unsubsidized Subsidized and Unsubsidized Combined


Up to $3,500 Subsidized

$2,000 Minimum Unsubsidized

$5,500 Total Maximum - Sub & Unsubsidized combined


Up to $4,500 Subsidized

$2,000 Minimum Unsubsidized

$6,500 Total Maximum - Sub & Unsubsidized combined


Up to $5,500 Subsidized

$2,000 Minimum Unsubsidized

$7,500 Total Maximum - Sub & Unsubsidized combined


Up to $5,500 Subsidized

$2,000 Minimum Unsubsidized

$7,500 Total Maximum - Sub & Unsubsidized combined


Independent undergraduate students are eligible for additional unsubsidized amounts depending on their grade level:


Year Additional Unsubsidized Amount

Independent Freshman and Sophomores

Up to $4,000

Independent Juniors and Seniors

Up to $5,000


The Federal Government has determined for financial aid purposes that a student may be considered INDEPENDENT if they can answer "YES" to any of the following questions:

  • Were you born before January 1, 1993? 
  • Are you married? 
  • Will you be working on a master’s doctorate program (such as an MA, MBA, MD, JD, or PhD, etc.)? 
  • Do you have any children who get more than half of their support from you? 
  • Do you have any legal dependents that get more than half of their support from you? 
  • Are you on active duty or a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces? 
  • At any time since you turned 13, were both your parents deceased?
  • Since you turned 13, were you in state-appointed foster care or were you a ward of the court?
  • Are you or were you an emancipated minor determined by a court?
  • Was someone other than a biological parent appointed as your guardian by the court?
  • Were you determined by a state or federal agency to be either an unaccompanied youth or homeless or both?

If a student is estranged from his/her parents due to legal or for safety reasons they may be eligible for a dependency override. They will be required to produce a number of items to document the situation. Please contact the Student Navigation Center for details.

Please note that we do not grant dependency overrides on the basis of "financial independence"; a student living financially independently from his/her parents by choice, circumstance, student's employment or geography does not constitute independence by federal guidelines.

Other Federal and State Loans

It's simple to get help

Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduates (PLUS) is a fixed 7.9 percent interest rate loan taken out by the parent on behalf of a dependent student. It is based on creditworthiness. Families may borrow up to the cost of education minus other aid. Payment begins immediately.** If a dependent student's parent is denied based on creditworthiness, the student may borrow additional amounts under the Unsubsidized Direct Loan program. The Parent Plus Loan MUST be applied for online.

Apply for a direct Parent PLUS Loan

The Federal Perkins Loan Program provides low-interest loans (fixed at 5 percent) to help needy students finance the costs of post-secondary education. Funding of the Perkins Loan program is limited at Salem State University. Eligibility is determined by the financial aid office and funding is limited.

The Federal Nursing Student Loan is a low-interest (fixed at 5 percent) federal loan. It is for both undergraduate and graduate students admitted to the College of Health and Human Services and who are enrolled at least half time. Funding of the Federal Nursing Loan program is limited at Salem State University. Eligibility is determined by the financial aid office and funding is limited.

All students accepting any of the above mentioned loans MUST sign a promissory note. Depending on the loan offered, signing may be required each year the award is offered.

Loan Promissory Note Requirement Delivery and Process Method
Direct  Loans Your first loan at Salem State Online - Link will be in your to-do list
Perkins Each year the award is offered Online - Link will be in your to-do list
(additional documentation MAY be required to be signed in office)
Federal Nursing Each year the award is offered Paper form, must be completed at The Navigation Center


*Incomplete promissory notes Failure to do so results in loan cancellation. If funds are awarded after the start of school, come to Financial Aid to sign notes and for entrance loan counseling. For incoming students, loan counseling is also done at Orientation.

Learn more about Mass No Interest Loan Exit Counseling

Please note that if you receive a revised award during the year, a promissory note must be signed for any additional funds awarded. When you terminate your studies at Salem State, you must have an exit interview. Your loan obligations and repayment conditions are explained again at that time.

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