Perkins Loans are awarded to students with the greatest financial need, up to $5,500 per year and $27,500 total for undergraduate students and up to $8,000 per year and $60,000 total (including amount borrowed as an undergrad) for graduate students. Also, instead of the borrower requesting a certain amount, the institution determines the award amount based on the amount the school has available to distribute and its own financial need criteria, using the EFC number. But need isn't the only requirement. Borrowers must also be enrolled in a degree program at least half-time and maintain satisfactory academic standing.
Once a student has filled out the paperwork and demonstrated adequate need, and the school has selected them to receive aid, he or she may be required to attend a Perkins Loan entrance counseling session before accepting the loan. This can usually be done online and consists of reviewing relevant material and answering a series of questions to ensure the borrower fully understands the terms of the loan, as well as the rights and responsibilities that come with acceptance.
The school will either credit the student's account or issue a check. The institution is required to distribute the award so that the student is paid at least once each term. For example, if a school year is divided into semesters, the student will be paid twice. If trimesters, then there will be three payments, and students attending school on the quarter system will receive four payments.
It's also important to remember, like most federal loan programs, the Perkins Loan must be reapplied for each academic year.
In the next section, we'll take a look at how to repay Perkins Loans.