A Perkins Loan is a low-interest (5%) loan for both undergraduate and graduate education that is provided by the U.S. government to students with "exceptional" financial need. Financial need is determined by the information provided in your FAFSA.
Though Perkins Loan funds are provided by the government, your school's financial aid office is the lender and administrator, and you must make repayments of the loan to your school. Approximately 1,800 post-secondary schools offer Perkins loans.
You can borrow up to 5,500 for each year of undergraduate study, and up to 27,500 total as an undergraduate. For graduate studies, you can borrow up to 8,000 per year, or a total of 60,000, which includes amounts borrowed as an undergraduate.
There are no fees for Perkins loans, however if you skip or make a late payment, you may have to pay a late charge.
You must begin to pay back a Perkins loan 9 months after you have stopped attending school at least half time, and you have up to 10 years to repay the loan.
Unlike Pell Grants, which provide funds to every eligible student, Perkins loans and other campus-based programs are directed a set amount of funds each year by the government. Therefore it is important that you apply for these loans as early as you can. School deadlines for applying for Perkins loans are often earlier than the deadline for submitting your FAFSA.