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, including lower interest rates. 

Federal Loan Return Policy

Our office can process requests for cancellations if the loan has not yet been disbursed or it has been 14 days or less from the date of the quarterly notification of the right to cancel the loan. This notification is provided on your billing statement. This means that the loan disbursement(s) is(are) cancelled and returned to the lender, reducing loan debt. The loan servicer will then send an updated discloser statement showing the cancellation and/or reduction. The returned loan funds will be reflected on the Federal Student Aid website as well as the National Student Loan Data System. It may take up to 90 days for the returned funds to be reflected.
If it has been more than 14 days from the date of the quarterly notification of the right to cancel the loan, you will need to contact your loan servicer regarding loan repayment. To obtain loan servicer information, contact 1-800-4-FED-AID or log into your Federal Student Aid account.


Types of Loans

  • Federal Direct Loans

    Federal Direct Loans

    Federal Direct Loans are available to you regardless of your income and provide you with flexible repayment options, something other types of loans are not required to provide. Federal Direct Loans are available through UCR with interest rates ranging from 6.53% to 9.08% (interest rates change every July 1st).  The federal government will pay the interest on your Federal Direct Subsidized Loans while you are enrolled at least half-time (6 units per quarter). The interest on Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans will accrue while you are in school, but you don’t go into repayment for 6 months after your graduate or drop below half-time enrollment (interest only payments are recommended). 

  • University Student Loans

    UC Riverside University Loan

    The University Loan is a need-based and subsidized loan. No interest accrues on the amount of loan a student has borrowed during in-school, grace, and authorized periods. The repayment of principal and interest begins 9 months after you leave school, or when your grace/deferment period ends. The interest rate on the University Loan is fixed at 5% until the loan is paid in full. This loan does not have any origination or other fees.

    There are limits on the maximum UC Riverside University Loan amounts that a student may receive each academic year (annual loan limits). There are also limits on a student's maximum outstanding total UC Riverside University Loan debt. These are called aggregate loan limits. The aggregate limits for this loan are $11,000 for a student who has not completed two academic years of undergraduate work and $27,000 for an undergraduate student who has completed two academic years and is pursuing a bachelor's degree. 

    A borrower who has reached the aggregate borrowing limit for the UC Riverside University Loan may not receive additional loans. Once the loans are repaid, in full or in part, the borrower may apply for additional loans. 

  • CA Dream Loan

    CA Dream Loan

    Funded by the state and UC, may provide eligible students with the opportunity to borrow student loans to help pay for their education.
    If you are an undocumented AB 540 undergraduate student, here's what you need to know:

    • A loan is borrowed money that you must 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 may be eligible to borrow every year you are an eligible student until you receive a maximum of $20,000 in CA Dream Loans.

    The CA DREAM Loan interest rate is 6.53% and changes every July 1st (matches the Federal Direct Subsidized Loan). If you borrow through the CA DREAM Loan program in 2023-2024, 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 while you are a student enrolled at least half-time (6 units per quarter). You will begin repayment 6 months after you graduate or drop below half-time enrollment.

    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 CA DREAM LOAN, but you'll need to apply for financial aid every year to be considered for the CA DREAM LOAN.
    • You may see a CA DREAM LOAN offered as part of your financial aid award. You are not required to accept the CA DREAM LOAN offered if you do not wish to borrow — it is optional.
    • Make sure to check your email and your R’Web account on a regular basis in case we contact you with further instructions. 

    Contact us if you need help.

  • Private Alternative Loans

    Private Alternative Loans

    Private alternative loans are funded through banks and other private lending institutions. The Department of Education does not regulate private alternative loan terms so conditions can vary widely. In general, Federal Direct Loan terms are better than private alternative loan terms and eligibility is credit-based so you may be required to apply with a credit-worthy cosigner. We recommend you consider a private alternative loan only if you need additional funds after accepting the Federal Direct Loan(s) for which you qualify as the interest rates offered by banks and private lending institutions will likely be higher.

    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 lenders. UCOP 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. You may also refer to our UC Preferred Lenders At-A-Glance resource to quickly find a lender that processes loans specific to your needs. 
    Use the Loan Discount Analyzer before choosing a private alternative 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. Once a private alternative loan application has been approved by the lender, they will submit to us a certification request indicating the payment period(s), or term(s), for which you have requested funds to be disbursed (also known as the loan period) and the maximum amount the lender has approved you to borrow.

    Before Your Certification Request Can Be Processed:

    • Your financial aid file must be complete (FAFSA and CA Dream Act Applicants only).
    • You must have received, reviewed and accepted your Financial Aid Award (FAFSA and CA Dream Act Applicants only).
    • You must be enrolled in the minimum units required by your chosen lender.
    • Your expected graduation date must be equal to, or greater than, your requested loan period end date. If not, you will need to contact your Academic Advisor/College Office directly to request an extension.
    • You must be maintaining satisfactory academic progress or have an approved Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal approval on file with the Financial Aid Office. This applies only to lenders that require borrowers be making satisfactory academic progress towards completion of their degree.

    If you do not have a social security number and you applied for a private alternative loan using a name other than the name associated with your UCR student record you must contact the Financial Aid Office to self-identify for the certification request to be processed.
    What You Need to Know

    • Certification requests are processed using the loan period requested by the student when applying with the lender.
    • Students who wish to obtain private alternative loan funds to cover a past due balance must apply for the loan period that includes the payment period(s), or term(s), for which the balance is owed.
    • The number of disbursements is determined based on the number of payment periods, or terms, included in the requested loan period.
    • The maximum amount a student is eligible to receive is determined, industry-wide, by the cost of attendance associated with the requested loan period, minus any other aid received including, but not limited to, the following:
      • Federal, institutional and state grant and/or loans
      • Departmental, institutional, or outside agency grants/scholarships
      • Federal, institutional and state tuition assistance programs (Part-Time Fee Waiver, Veteran’s Dependent Fee Waiver, Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits, etc.)
    • The assumption will be made that any aid that remains in “Offered” status (excluding Federal Direct Parent Plus Loan) will ultimately be “Accepted” and will reduce private alternative loan eligibility.
    • Students who have declined Federal Direct Subsidized, Unsubsidized or Graduate Plus Loan may want to reconsider as the interest rate is very likely to be less than the interest rate offered by the lender (contact your chosen lender directly for interest rate).
    • Certification requests will be processed for the maximum amount a student is eligible to receive for the requested loan period or the amount requested, whichever is less.
    • Certification requests will be rejected by the Financial Aid Office for any student that does not have eligibility for the minimum loan amount as determined by their chosen lender. For most lenders, the minimum loan amount approved is $1,000 (contact your chosen lender directly for details).

    Although we attempt to process certification requests as soon as possible, you must allow a minimum of 10 business days from the date the certification request is received and/or certification readiness. Certification processing does NOT guarantee funds as all certifications processed are subject to review and approval by the lender. Once the certification has been processed, the student can see the Private Alternative Loan award by doing the following:

    • Log into R’Web and click on the Financial Aid icon.
    • Click on Award.
    • Click on Award Overview and choose the applicable Award Year in the drop-down menu to see the Private Alternative Loan award.

    After final lender approval, funds will be sent to UCR electronically and then credited to your student account as indicated on your Financial Aid Award. Your first disbursement will be released no sooner than 10 days after a certification has been processed. This is referred to the “right to cancel” period. Lenders are prohibited by law from making any disbursements prior to the expiration of the “right to cancel” period. You should allow up to 5 business days, in addition to the 10 day “right to cancel” period, for funds to be credited to your student account. Any subsequent disbursements will be released according the estimated schedule posted your “Financial Aid Messages” in R’Web. If you have not already done so, we recommend you sign up for Direct Deposit to avoid unnecessary refund delays.

    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

  • Emergency Loans

    Emergency LoansYou 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.
    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.

Applying for the Direct PLUS Loan for Parents

The Federal Direct (Parent) Plus Loan is a loan available to eligible parent(s) of eligible dependent undergraduate student to help pay for educational expenses. A parent may borrow up to the dependent undergraduate student’s full cost of attendance minus any other financial aid the student is receiving. See the Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan Guide for important information.

Who should complete the process? Eligible parent(s) of eligible dependent undergraduate students who intend to borrow a loan to help pay for college expenses.

How long will it take? The entire Federal Direct PLUS Loan for Parents application process must be completed in a single session and will take approximately 20 minutes to complete.

What does the parent need?

  • Parent must use their verified FSA ID, not their student's FSA ID.
  • School Name: University of California, Riverside
  • Student Information
  • Your Personal Information
  • Employer's Information (if applicable)
What are the steps to receive the Direct PLUS Loan?
  1. Apply for a Federal Direct Parent Plus Loan 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 
  2. Click on “Apply for a PLUS Loan” under “Parent – I want to help my child pay for college".
  3. Log in to complete the Federal Direct Parent Plus Loan Application with your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID. This FSA ID is the same login you used to electronically sign your dependent’s FAFSA. 
  4. Click on the blue “Log In To Start”.
  5. Select the proper “Award Year” and input “Student”, “School” and “Loan” Information. 
  6. Fill out the "Borrower Information" and review for accuracy.
  7. Review “Important Notices” and “Certifications and Authorizations”.
  8. Review and verify all information provided for accuracy. 
  9. If approved, you must complete a Federal Direct Parent Plus Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN) before funds can be disbursed.
  10. If denied, you may choose to obtain an endorser (apply with a co-singer), appeal the credit decision, or accept the denial.  If you choose to accept the denial, your dependent student may be offered additional Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan equal to that which would be offered to an independent undergraduate student (maximum of $4,000 for freshmen/sophomores and $5,000 for juniors/seniors).

Review our useful Federal Direct Parent Plus Loan Guide to learn more about the Federal Direct Parent Plus Loan and the application process.

What Happens After You Graduate

If you have a Federal Direct Loan, once you graduate, drop below half-time enrollment or leave school, you have a six-month grace period before you are required to start making regular payments. You can monitor your loan status online at
When your Federal Direct Loan(s) enter repayment, your loan servicer will automatically place you on the Standard Repayment Plan, but you can request a different repayment plan at any time. Choose a repayment option that fits your financial circumstances and modify your plan if circumstances change.
Use the Loan Simulator to calculate student loan payments and choose the repayment option that best meets your needs and goals.


Federal School Code: 001316


Next Steps
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.

Quick Tips
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.