Student Loans

Northern's Financial Aid Office can show you a variety of student loan options available to full- and part-time students, and work with you to determine the best loan option(s) for you and your family. Please note that all borrowed federal loans are submitted to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), and the information will be accessible by guaranty agencies, lenders, and schools.
Learn more below about Direct and Federal Plus loans and alternative loan options.

Federal Direct Loan

The Direct Loan is available through the federal government to undergraduate or graduate students who complete the FAFSA.

If you are borrowing with a Direct Loan:

All students must complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN). The MPN is the application and promissory note for all Direct Loans - subsidized and unsubsidized. You will complete the MPN only the first time you borrow a Direct Loan. For all subsequent years, you only need to submit a FAFSA and accept your loans via your award letter. Your MPN is good for 10 years from the date the note was signed and can be used for any loan period that begins within the 10-year time frame.
Once you have accepted your Direct Loan as listed on your award letter, complete the Direct Loan MPN at Use your FSA ID to sign in to the website.
If you are a first-time Direct Loan borrower, you need to complete entrance loan counseling at You are required to complete entrance counseling before funds can be disbursed to your student account.

The Direct Loan comes in two forms:

  • Subsidized Direct Loan—This loan is need-based. Payment of the principal is deferred while you are enrolled at least half-time and for six months after your enrollment drops below half-time status. The interest rate is a fixed rate of 2.75 percent. This loan is only available to undergraduate students.
  • Unsubsidized Direct Loan—This loan is not need-based; payment of the principal is deferred while you are enrolled at least half-time and for six months after your enrollment period drops below half-time status. Interest on this loan begins accruing at the time of disbursement. The interest rate is fixed at 2.75 percent for undergraduate students and 4.3 percent for graduate students. You have the option of making quarterly interest payments while in school or allowing the interest to be capitalized (added to the principal).
A 1.057 percent net origination fee is deducted from the loans prior to disbursement.
Loan Limits: The maximum (combined subsidized and unsubsidized) annual limits for these loans are as follows:
Grade Level 
Additional Unsub. for Dependents
(1 – 29 credits)        
(30 – 59 credits)      
(60 – 89 credits)      
(90 or more credits)      


Federal PLUS Loan

Parents of dependent students may qualify for a Direct PLUS Loan. Parents may borrow up to the cost of attendance, less other financial aid awarded. Interest is a fixed rate of 5.3 percent with loan fees up to 4.228 percent. Repayment generally begins 60 days after disbursement, although payments may be deferred as long as the student is enrolled at least half-time. Borrowers must receive credit approval for a Direct PLUS Loan. To borrow a PLUS loan, the parent borrower must complete a master promissory note along with an annual PLUS loan application form.
About the Direct PLUS MPN
The Direct PLUS Master Promissory Note (PLUS MPN) and Parent PLUS Loan Application Form are required for all PLUS Loans a parent borrows for the student. The parent borrower will complete the Direct PLUS MPN only the first time Direct PLUS Loan is borrowed on behalf of your student. The PLUS MPN is good for 10 years from the date the note was signed. For subsequent borrowing, the parent must only complete the Parent PLUS Loan Application Form, indicating the amount requested.
If a parent has more than one student in college and would like to arrange a PLUS loan for each, a PLUS MPN must be completed for each student. The Parent PLUS Loan Application Form must be completed each year for each student.
How to Apply for a Direct PLUS Loan for Parents
  1. Submit a Parent PLUS Loan Application Form to the Financial Aid Office, indicating the dollar amount you wish to borrow on behalf of your student.
  2. First-time PLUS Loan borrowers must complete a PLUS Master Promissory Note. From the website, highlight Complete Aid Process and select Parent PLUS MPN under Complete Master Promissory Note. Log in using your FSA ID.
  3. We'll transmit your loan request to the U.S. Department of Education, which will approve or deny your loan. The U.S. Department of Education will contact you with the results.
  4. If you're denied a PLUS Loan due to adverse credit, you can appeal the denial or add a creditworthy co-signer. Or, we may award your student an Unsubsidized Direct Loan.
For more information about the Direct PLUS Loan program, visit Federal Student Aid.

Alternative Loan Options

In addition to federal student loan programs, as a Northern student you and/or your parents may take out alternative loans for educational expenses. Eligibility criteria, loan limits, interest rates, and repayment terms will vary from one program and lender to the next.

Because the interest rates don't have a maximum limit, and the federal government doesn't guarantee the loans, we recommend that you consider these loans only after exhausting eligibility for the federal loan programs.

A list of all alternative-loan lenders used by Northern students in the past three years is available at the Alternative Lender List link below. There, you'll also find information about interest rates, fees, repayment terms, and application instructions.

We don't endorse specific lender(s), and you're free to borrow from any participating lender, not just those identified. Be sure to compare benefits, and select the program that best fits your borrowing needs.

Federal regulations now require lenders to send three disclosure notices to borrowers and co-signers to ensure borrowers are properly informed regarding the terms and conditions of the loan. This process will lengthen the time it takes from applying for a loan until the funds are received, so please allow 3-4 weeks for processing time.

Alternative Lender List


If you take out an alternative loan, you're required to fill out a Self-Certification of Private Loans form. Most lenders will provide this; however, you also may use the online form:

Self-Certification Form