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. 60% of UCR students borrow federal loans and graduate with an average student loan debt of $19,770. UCR's repayment rate is excellent, with just over 97% of students repaying their federal loans on time.  UCR's current Cohort Default Rate is at 2.1%, well below the national average of 9.7%.  


Federal Loan Return Policy

Our office will be able to process your request for cancellation if your federal loan has not yet been disbursed or it has been 14 days or less from the date of notification of your right to cancel your loan. This notification is provided on your billing statement. This means that we will take your loan amount back and return funds to the lender for you. This will reduce your debt. The direct loan servicer should send you an updated statement showing the reduction. The return of loan funds will also show on NSLDS (National Student Loan Data System), since the direct loan servicer updates NSLDS, it will take about 90 days for the returned amount to show up there. You can access NSLDS by logging into your account on the Federal Student Aid site.

If it has been more than 14 dates from the date of notification of your right to cancel the loan, you will need to contact your lender/servicer regarding your loan repayment. To learn who your lender/servicer is, contact 1-800-4-FED-AID or login to your account at the Federal Student Aid site.


Types of Loans

  • Federal 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 3.73% to 5.28%. 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 Direct PLUS (Parent) Loan (see application steps below)
    Federal Direct PLUS (Graduate Student) Loan

  • UCR Loans

    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

    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 4.53% in 2019-20 (matches the Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan). If you borrow through the DREAM loan program in 2019-20, 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

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

    See a list of UC preferred lenders. UC 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.

  • Emergency Loans

    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.

    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

Applying for the Direct PLUS Loan for Parents

The Direct PLUS Loans for Parents is a loan available to the parent of a dependent undergraduate student to help pay for educational expenses up to the cost of attendance minus all other financial assistance. Interest is charged during all periods. The lender is the U.S. Department of Education.

Who should complete the process?

Eligible parents of eligible dependent undergraduate students who intend to borrow a loan to help pay for college expenses.

How long will it take?

The entire Direct PLUS Loans for Parents application process must be completed in a single session. It takes approximately 20 minutes to complete the application.

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 PLUS Loan 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at Direct Loans on the Web at: 
  2. Click on “Apply for a PLUS Loan” under the "Apply for Aid."
  3. Log in to complete the Direct PLUS Loan Application with your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID. This FSA ID is the same login you used to electronically sign your FAFSA. 
  4. Click on the blue “Start” button to the right of "Direct PLUS Loan Application for Parents."
  5. Select the proper Award Year and input Student Information and School and Loan Information. 
  6. Fill out the "Borrower Information" page and review for Accuracy.
  7. Click on “Open Important Notices” button and review Disclosures.
  8. Certify the Accuracy of your information and Authorize Credit Check in order to submit application. 
  9. If approved, the parent must complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) for the Parent PLUS Loan before it can be disbursed.
  10. If denied, the parent may choose to complete the endorser process (apply with a co-singer), appeal the credit decision or accept the denial.  If the parent chooses to accept the denial, their Dependent student will be offered an 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 Parent Plus Loan Guide and learn more about the Direct PLUS Loan. 


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.

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.