WILLIAM D. FORD DIRECT LOANS: The Direct Loan Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Education. Using the income and asset information provided on the FAFSA, the financial aid office determines your eligibility and notifies you of the types and amounts of Direct Loans for which you qualify. The interest rate on these loans is adjusted each July 1 while the student is in school, and during the grace period and when the loans are in repayment. The Direct Loan borrowing limits and interest rates are available for review.

NOTE: Graduate and professional students are no longer eligible to receive Direct Subsidized loans. The federal Budget Control Act of 2011 eliminated in-school loan interest subsidies for graduate and professional students.

Direct Unsubsidized loans are not based on financial need or income. The terms are the same as for Direct Subsidized loans; however the student is charged the interest on the loan beginning the day the loan is disbursed. Students can choose to pay the interest while they are in school or capitalize the interest (add the unpaid accumulated interest to the principal balance) until repayment begins. For graduate health professions students, the aggregate borrowing limit for Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans combined is $224,000.

Effective July 2007, additional Unsubsidized loans above $40,500 may be awarded to Medical students based on their aid year enrollment per the following federal calculation:
             12-month enrollment: Up to a total of $47,167
             11-month enrollment:  Up to a total of $44,944
             10-month enrollment: Up to a total of $42,722
             3 to 9-month enrollment: Up to a total of $40,500

Additional Unsubsidized loans above $33,000 may be awarded to graduate Public Health students based on their aid year enrollment:
             12-month enrollment: Up to a total of $37,167
             11-month enrollment:  Up to a total of $35,778
             10-month enrollment: Up to a total of $34,389
             3 to 9-month enrollment: Up to a total of $33,000

Nursing students may receive a maximum of $20,500 per year.

Direct Unsubsidized Graduate Plus loans are available for graduate and professional students who need to borrow funds beyond the federal Unsubsidized loan limits. The Direct Grad Plus loan has a fixed interest rate, no annual or aggregate borrowing limits (other than cost of attendance less other financial aid received). While credit checks are required to be eligible for the Grad Plus, the credit criteria are less strict than those associated with private student loans. Furthermore, if you do not meet the credit requirements for a Grad Plus, you may still obtain the loan with an endorser (cosigner) who does meet the credit requirements. If you would like to accept the Direct Grad Plus loan offered in your financial aid package, complete the online application at Studentaid.gov. The online application authorizes the federal government to complete a credit check. In addition to the application, students must complete an online master promissory note (MPN), also available on the StudentLoans Web site. StudentAid.gov provides a Federal and Private Loan Comparison to help you consider the significant variables when choosing between the federal Direct Loan and private loans.  A private loan may be less expensive depending on your credit score and whether the variable interest rate will increase before you complete repayment of the loan.

The Primary Care Loan is a low-cost subsidized federal loan available to medical students committed to a primary health care practice. The interest rate is 5% and begins to accrue following a 12-month grace period after you cease to be a full-time student. The loan is eligible for deferment during medical residency. You must continue to practice in a primary health care field for 10 years (including the years in residency) or until the loan is repaid in full, whichever comes first. If you fail to fulfill the service obligation, the outstanding loan balance will be computed at an interest rate of 7% from the date of noncompliance, compounded annually. Heartland ECSI is the loan servicer.

Usually awarded in the fall of each year, this is a subsidized, 5% fixed-interest rate loan made available through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The loan includes a 12-month grace period before repayment and is eligible for deferment throughout medical residency. Awards are made to medical students with the lowest combined parent and student contributions (PC and SC) based on the federal needs analysis calculation. Students must come from an economically-disadvantaged background (low income level tables are published annually by DHHS), and/or are considered by the admissions committee to have come from a disadvantaged background (criteria determined at the time of admissions review). Heartland ECSI is the loan servicer.

Student tuition and fee increases, budget cuts, and borrowing limits can make it difficult to finance the total cost of your education. Please consider the following before applying for a private loan:

  • Graduate and professional Health Professions students are advised to compare the terms and conditions of both federal Direct Loan programs and individual lenders' private loan products to help meet the cost of attendance. StudentAid.gov provides a Federal and Private Loan Comparison.
  • The selection of a private student loan provider is entirely your choice. Be aware that some private lenders may require repayment during enrollment.
  • When applying, use our School Code 001313-72.
  • UC Private Lender List (managed by ELM Select)

Loans for Medical Residency Application, Interview, and Relocation Expenses
The U.S. Department of Education has ruled that reasonable expenses related to medical residency applications and interviews can be considered "educational expenses" and therefore funded with financial aid. This ruling allows the financial aid office to award federal funds specifically for residency application and/or interview costs.

Final-year medical students may request loan funds by completing the Funding Request for Residency Application Expenses form and submitting receipts to the financial aid office for review. Depending on the individual student's aid eligibility, funding may be in the form of additional Federal Direct Loan and/or an institutional loan.  For some students, additional Direct Loan may mean Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan which will require credit approval. 

Students may also request a private loan to cover those costs. Some private lenders have developed loan programs specifically for final-year medical students who incur residency application, interview, and relocation expenses. Private loans may require certification by the financial aid office (most do not), and tend to be more expensive than federally-guaranteed loans. For a comparison of residency loans from UC Office of the President's preferred lenders, click here. On the drop-down list, choose "Residency" loan (not health profession). The selection of a private lender is entirely up to the borrower.  

Both the Grad Plus and private loans require a credit review and loans will be approved for those who are deemed credit-worthy. If the loan application is denied, the student may appeal the lender's decision by addressing all derogatory issues appearing on the credit record. (The student may also want to appeal based on her/his future earnings potential.) Another alternative would be to ask someone with good credit to endorse (cosign) the loan--perhaps a parent or relative.


  • Borrow wisely and do not borrow more than you need. Calculate your expense estimates carefully. Seek advice from past graduates and current residents who have been through the process. Do not overspend. Some students believe they deserve a higher standard of living than when they were students, and they may buy a new vehicle or travel, for example. Remember that as a resident, your take-home pay will not be much more than what you were living on while in medical school.
  • Interview expenses: If your goal is a residency position in a particular geographic location, you may save on travel expenses by planning some of your fourth-year electives in that area during the fall and winter terms. If you are able to coordinate your electives with this in mind, and can document expenses that exceed the "transportation" portion of your student expense budget, you may qualify for additional financial aid. Talk with a financial aid officer to learn more.
  • Relocation expenses: Ask yourself these questions when planning your relocation: When will I receive my first paycheck? What will my living expenses be for the period following graduation until my first paycheck? Will I need to make a security deposit on an apartment or to establish utilities? What supplies will I need to purchase in order to make the move? Other expenses to consider may include insurance premiums, automobile registration in a new state, health care premiums or expenses, and household supplies. 

The State of California requires that potential student loan borrowers be told the following:

Students considering student loans need to be aware of the differences between federal student loans and private loans. 

  • Federal student loans are required by law to provide a range of flexible repayment options including, but not limited to, income-based and income-contingent repayment plans, as well as loan forgiveness benefits that private lenders are not required to provide.
  • Federal Direct Loans are available to most students regardless of income. Other qualification criteria do apply. For more information, please visit studentaid.gov/understand-aid/eligibility.
  • Private student loan lenders can offer variable interest rates that can increase or decrease over time, depending on market conditions.
  • The interest rate on a private loan may depend on the borrower's and/or co-signer's credit rating.
  • Private student loans have a range of interest rates and fees and students should determine the interest rate of, and any fees associated with, the private student loan included in their financial aid award package before accepting the loan. Students should contact the lender of the private student loan or their UC campus financial aid office if they have any questions about a private student loan.

Some UC campuses offer students their own private (institutional) student loans. Students offered a UC institutional private student loan should know that: 

  • Interest rates on UC loans will be fixed, not variable. 
  • UC loans can have a range of interest rates.
  • UC loans are not awarded based on the credit history of the borrower.
  • UC loans do not require a cosigner.