A Perkins Loan is an educational loan that features a low interest rate, and it is available to undergraduate, graduate and professional students who demonstrate exceptional financial need, according to the United States Department of Education. Unlike other student loan types, the educational institution that the student attends is the lender; however, not all schools participate in the Perkins Loan Program.
Perkins Loan amounts are based on financial needs, the amount of funds that are available at the school and any other aid the student receives. To be considered for Perkins Loan funds, students should apply for federal student aid as soon as possible each school year. Funds are limited, so not everyone who qualifies to receive a loan under the Perkins Loan Program will receive one.
Eligible students can receive up to $5,500 in Perkins Loan funds per year, with a loan maximum of $27,500 over the course of their undergraduate studies, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Graduate and professional students can borrow up to $8,000 per year, or as much as $60,000 over the course of their undergraduate, graduate or professional studies.
Students taking Perkins Loan disbursements have the option to defer payment while they are still in school. However, payments on any Perkins Loans received will be expected to commence 9 months after graduation, after leaving school or dropping below half-time status.