Borrow Smart

When you file your FAFSA or Dream Act Application, you may be offered federal, UC and/or UCR student loans as part of your financial aid package. You have the option of accepting or declining them. You may also seek out private loans. Loan terms vary, but in general, federal, UC and UCR loan terms are better than private loan terms. UCR students who borrow federal loans graduate with an average student loan debt of $21,500. UCR's repayment rate is excellent, with just over 97% of students repaying their federal loans on time. All loans accrue interest and require repayment after graduation. Select loans carefully!

Types of Loans

Federal loans are available to you regardless of your income and provide you with flexible repayment options (which other types of loans are not required to provide). Federal loans are available through UCR with interest rates ranging from 4.29% to 6.84%. The federal government will pay the interest on your subsidized loans while you are enrolled at least half-time (6 units per quarter). The interest on unsubsidized loans will accrue while you are enrolled.

Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loans
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans
Federal Perkins Loans
Federal Direct PLUS (Parent) Loan
Federal Direct PLUS (Graduate Student) Loan


A limited number of UCR loans are available to undergraduate students for up to $5,000 annually. There are loan programs available to all students regardless of income. Undergraduate students, graduate students, and parents of dependent undergraduate students may obtain UCR loans. Interest is 5% per year (fixed) on the unpaid principal balance and begins six months after graduation/withdrawal.

The DREAM Loan Program, funded by the state and UC, provides eligible students with the opportunity to borrow student loans to help pay for their education.

If you're an undocumented AB 540 undergraduate, here's what you need to know

  • A loan is borrowed money that you have to pay back with interest.
  • Our office will determine the amount you can borrow based on available funding and number of eligible students attending UC Riverside each year.
  •  You can borrow every year you're an eligible student until you receive a maximum of $20,000 in DREAM loans.

The DREAM Loan interest rate is 4.29% in 2015-16 (matches the Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan). If you borrow through the DREAM loan program in 2015-16, the interest rate will not change for that loan. However, the interest rate for future loans may be different.

Interest will not accrue on the loan as long as you're a student enrolled at least half- time. Once you graduate (or you cease being at least a half-time student), there is a six-month grace period before you have to start paying back the loan.

Who is Eligible?
Undocumented AB 540 undergraduates who:

  • Have financial need
  • Are enrolled at least half-time

What You Need to Do

  • Make sure you apply for financial aid by filing a California Dream Act application. There are no separate forms required to apply for the California DREAM Loan Program, but you'll need to apply for financial aid every year to be considered for the DREAM Loan Program.
  • You may see a DREAM Loan offered as part of your financial aid award letter. You do not need to accept the loan if you don't want to — it's optional.
  • Make sure to check your email and your Growl account on a regular basis in case we contact you with instructions. 

Contact us if you need help.


Private loans are funded through banks and other private lending institutions. We recommend you only consider private loans if you need more money after taking the federal student loans for which you already qualify. In general, federal loan terms are better than private loan terms. Unlike federal Stafford and Perkins loans, private loans usually require a credit-worthy co-signer. Since the Department of Education does not regulate private student loans, their terms and conditions can vary widely.

Federal Loans   Private Loans
  • Required to offer flexible repayment options
  • Not required to provide flexible payment options
  • Have fixed interest rates
  • May have variable interest rates
  • Available to most students regardless of income/credit score
  • May depend on the student's and/or co-signer's credit score

See a list of UC preferred lendersUC maintains a non-exhaustive list of preferred lenders. You are not required to use lenders listed; we will process loans from any eligible lender you choose.

Use the Loan Discount Analyzer before choosing a private loan. It will help you evaluate the total cost of a loan program offering up-front discounts and deals.

Be patient and respond quickly to all requests from your lender
to ensure prompt receipt of your funds. After your loan is approved, the lender will contact us to certify the loan. Once we confirm your eligibility, we will certify the amount of your loan and return an electronic response to your lender. After final loan approval, your lender will send funds to us for disbursement to your student account.

We attempt to process private loans as quickly as possible, but we must allow for the "right to cancel" period to expire. In accordance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act, you have three days to cancel your loan after you receive your final disclosure. Please allow for those three days, plus up to seven additional days for processing and mail time.

In keeping with the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008 and our Program Participation Agreement we abide by the University of California Code of Conduct in Regard to Preferred Lender Arrangements.



You can borrow up to $1000 with no interest with the Henry Ramsey Jr. Emergency Loan. Fees must be current and repayment is due within 30 days or at the end of the quarter (whichever comes first). Learn more or call  (951) 827-2586 for details.

You can get a $500 interest-free emergency loan three times per year. Fees must be current and repayment is due in 30 day or at the end of the quarter (whichever comes first). Contact us for details.

Faculty and staff are also eligible for emergency loans. Learn more.

Learn about other types of emergency funds.



How to Complete Mandatory Loan Counseling

If this is the first time you’ve ever had a loan at UCR, or if you have a Perkins loan, you must complete pre-loan counseling before you can get your money.

Learn how to complete pre-loan counseling.

You must also complete exit counseling (when you leave UCR or drop below half-time status).

Learn how to complete exit counseling.


What Happens After You Graduate

You must start paying back your loans about six months after you graduate or withdraw.

Monitor your loans at

Choose a repayment plan that fits your financial circumstances, and modify your plan if circumstances change. For example, you can choose an income-based repayment plan so that you pay more when you make more, or you might even qualify for loan forgiveness.

Learn more about repayment options.

Use the Repayment Estimator.


How to Defer Your Loans

Loan deferment means postponing your loan payments.

You can defer your loan under various circumstances; for example, while you are enrolled as a half-time student (including graduate students) or while you are unemployed.

Rules for loan deferment or cancellation can also be found on the loan promissory note you submit, and are provided to you online.

Learn more about loan deferment.







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