Grants & Loans

Grants are a form of financial aid that do not have to be repaid! Loans, however, do.


How to Apply

You can apply for all federal, state, and some institutional financial aid programs by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at:

For more information on completing the FAFSA, visit Apply for Financial Aid.

Federal Pell Grant

A Pell Grant is money the government provides to eligible students each year. This grant is based on financial need and full payment can be made if the student carries 12 or more credit hours per semester. A student carrying one to 11 hours can receive a proportionately reduced award.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

This is another federal grant provided to assist a student with exceptional financial need. Priority is given to those who are also Federal Pell Grant recipients. The amount awarded is therefore based on federal funding levels and college policy. A typical award at Southern State ranges from $200 to $300 per academic year.


How to Apply

To apply for student loans through the federal government you must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA results are received by the college and returned to you with the information on grants and/or loans, if you qualify. Southern State will mail the initial FAFSA results notification to your home address. If your application was selected for verification, the mailing will include documents required to complete the financial aid process in addition to borrowing student loans. Apply online at:

In an effort to reduce student borrowing, Southern State requires a Student Loan Request Form for all Federal Student Loans. Upon notification of your FAFSA awards from the Financial Aid Department you may complete the student loan request form. The loan request must be returned to the Office of Financial Aid. The student loan will be added to your financial aid package and a revised award letter will be mailed. If you are a first-time student loan borrower you must also complete the Required Counseling.

Federal Student Loans

Southern State understands the importance of managing the cost of education. In addition to grants, scholarships and federal work study, Southern State participates in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Student Loan Program. The loan program is designed to assist students with low-interest educational loans. The loan money comes from the federal government directly to Southern State. The loan proceeds are applied to the student account toward tuition, fees and other approved charges. If students borrow more than the direct charges (tuition, fees and books) the remaining money is mailed by check to the address that the student has on file with the college.

To obtain and determine eligibility for the loan students must complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This loan may be Subsidized, Unsubsidized or a combination of both. The loan is in the student’s name and is repaid by the student. Loan amounts are based on cost of attendance, the grade level, dependency status and other financial aid resources of the student. Students must be enrolled and attend at least half time (6 semester hours) to be eligible for a student loan.

Subsidized Loan – This is a need based loan. The government pays the interest while the student is in school at least half time.

Unsubsidized Loan – This is a non-need based loan. Students are responsible for the interest from the time of disbursement until the loan is paid in full. The student may pay the interest while in school or the interest may be capitalized (added) to the principle amount. Students are encouraged to pay the interest to the loan servicer while they are in school.

Annual Subsidized (Sub) and Unsubsidized (Unsub) Loan Limits:

Dependent Student

  • Freshman (0-29 Credits earned) up to $5,500 ($3,500 Sub and $2,000 Unsub)
  • Sophomore (30+ Credits earned) up to $6,500 ($4,500 Sub and $2,000 Unsub)

Independent Student

  • Freshman (0-29 Credits earned) up to $9,500 ($3,500 Sub and $6,000 Unsub)
  • Sophomore (30+ Credits earned) up to $10,500 ($4,500 Sub and $6,000 Unsub)

Loan Fees – Currently the U.S. Department of Education will charge 1.057% as a fee for processing the loan. This fee is deducted from each disbursement of the loan.

Interest Rates – The interest rate for student loans is determined by the time when it was disbursed not when it is in repayment. Therefore, from year to year interest rates may vary.

Interest Rates for Direct Loans First Disbursed on or after July 1, 2022 and before July 1, 2023:

Loan Type Borrower Type Fixed Interest Rate
Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans Undergraduate 4.99%
Direct Unsubsidized Loans Graduate or Professional 6.54%
Direct PLUS Loans Parents and Graduate or Professional Students 7.54%

Interest Rates for Direct Loans First Disbursed on or after July 1, 2023 and before July 1, 2024:

Loan Type Borrower Type Fixed Interest Rate
Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans Undergraduate 5.50%
Direct Unsubsidized Loans Graduate or Professional 7.05%
Direct PLUS Loans Parents and Graduate or Professional Students 8.05%

Disbursements – The first disbursement of a loan for a first time borrower to Southern State must be delayed until 30 days into the first semester. Loan disbursements for returning borrowers are scheduled after the 4th week of the semester.

Master Promissory Note – All students who borrow a Federal Direct Loan are required to complete a Federal Direct Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN). The MPN can be completed online at This is a contract with the U.S. Department of Education and is the promise to repay student loans. The MPN is good for up to 10 years and additional loans may be obtained using the same MPN.

Repaying Student Loans

Once you graduate, drop below half-time enrollment, or leave school, your federal student loans are subject to repayment. However, if you have a Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized, or Federal Family Education loan, you have a six-month grace period before you are required to start making regular payments. When your loan enters repayment, your loan servicer will automatically place you on the Standard Repayment Plan. A loan servicer is a company that the department of education assigns to handle the billing and other services of your federal student loans, at no cost to you. You can request a different repayment plan at any time by contacting your federal loan servicer. Below is a list of repayment plans, along with a brief explanation of each, that are currently available for students going into repayment. For additional information, visit "Loan Repayment" at

  • Graduated Repayment Plan
    All borrowers are eligible for this plan. Payments are lower at first and then increase, usually every 2 years, and are for an amount that will ensure your loans are paid off within 10 years.
  • Extended Repayment Plan
    If you're a Direct Loan borrower, you must have more than $30,000 in outstanding Direct Loans to qualify. Payments may be fixed or graduated and will ensure that your loans are paid off within 25 years. This is not a qualifying repayment plan for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).
  • Revised Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan (REPAYE)
    Your monthly payments will be 10% of your discretionary income. Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven if you haven't repaid your loan in full after 20 years) if all loans were taken out for undergraduate study) or 25 years (if any loans were taken out for graduate or professional study.)
  • Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan (PAYE)
    You must be a new borrower on or after October 1, 2007, and must have received a disbursement of a Direct Loan on or after October 1, 2011. Your monthly payments will be 10% of discretionary income, but never more than you would have to pay under the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan.
  • Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR)
    You must have a high debt relative to your income. Your monthly payments will be either 10% or 15% of discretionary income (depending on when you received your first loans), but never more than you would have to pay under the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan. Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven if you haven't repaid your loan in full after 20 years or 25 years, depending on when you received your first loan. You may have to pay income tax on any amount that is forgiven.
  • Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR)
    Your monthly payments will be the lesser of:
  • 20% of discretionary income, or
  • The amount you would pay on a repayment plan with a fixed payment over 12 years, adjusted according to your income.
  • Payments are recalculated each year and are based on your updated income, family size, and the total amount of your Direct Loan. Any outstanding balance will be forgiven if you haven't repaid your loan in full after 25 years.

Debt Management

Student loan debt awareness is critical to the success of students at Southern State. Unfortunately not every student qualifies for free or non-loan financial assistance. The Office of Financial Aid at Southern State strives to help students with debt awareness and borrowing wisely.

Borrow Only What You Need

Education is an investment in the future. Borrow only the amount of loan that is needed. Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans are offered to students at maximum levels to provide the full financial aid based on the cost of attendance at Southern State. Before accepting student loans on the award letter, students should determine what is needed to cover expenses. The award offer provides estimated expenses per semester in addition to all financial aid awards. The award letter will provide a breakdown of direct costs (money owed to the college) such as tuition and books, as well as indirect cost (money not charged directly to students) such as transportation.

Accepting loan money can be easy. Repayment can be more difficult. To determine potential salary and job information for the degree or major you are seeking visit It is important to understand the comparison between what you are borrowing and the anticipated salary range for the job or career you choose. This information can help assist in budget preparation. Look at the total loan debt but also at the monthly payment associated with the loan. This will help to determine what students can reasonably expect to repay upon entering repayment of the student loan.

Required Counseling

Entrance Counseling – Prior to receiving federal student loan funds all first-time borrowers are required to complete entrance counseling at A first-time borrower is someone who has no outstanding balance on a direct loan or federal family education loan (FFEL) program when he or she receives a direct loan or FFEL program loan on or after a specific date. You will need your FSA ID to log in. Entrance Counseling ensures you understand the terms and conditions of your loan and your rights and responsibilities. You will learn what a loan is, how interest works, your options for repayment, and how to avoid delinquency and default.

When you are finished, a record of your completion will be sent to the schools you selected. Keep in mind that you cannot save and leave an incomplete session; you must complete entrance counseling in one sitting.

First-time borrowers at SSCC will not have their loans disbursed until 30 days after the start of the term and attendance has been verified.

Exit Counseling – Exit counseling is required by law when you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment. Exit counseling provides important information that you will need as you prepare to repay your federal student loan(s). During exit counseling, you will review the terms and conditions that apply to your federal student loans, be introduced to various repayment options, and learn the importance of avoiding default. Exit Counseling is completed at You will need your FSA ID to log in.

As part of the exit counseling process, you'll need to provide the name, address, email address, and telephone number of your closest living relative, two references who live in the U.S., and your current or expected employer, if known.

The office of Financial Aid at Southern State Community College will notify students who withdraw or drop below half-time enrollment during a term that loan funds are awarded and at graduation that counseling is required. You can view your federal student loan information by logging onto Your profile will provide personalized information like your federal student loan balance, disbursement dates, and contact information. You can also view information on your federal loan servicer(s).

Know Your Current Student Loan Debt

As a student loan borrower students can check on how much in loans they have borrowed to-date by logging on to Tools within the website are designed to assist with understanding repayment amounts based on the size of student loan debt. Students who have prior student loan debt will receive a copy of their student loan history from the nslds website within the award package.

Parent PLUS Loans

Parents may borrow a Parent PLUS Loan for their dependent student up to the cost of attendance minus other awarded financial aid. You must be the biological or adoptive parent (or, in some cases, the stepparent) of the student for whom you are borrowing.

  • Your child must be a dependent undergraduate student who is enrolled at least half-time at a school that participates in the Direct Loan Program. Generally, your child is considered dependent if he or she is under 24 years of age, has no dependents, and is not married, a veteran, a graduate or professional degree student, or a ward of the court. Learn about dependency status at
  • You cannot have an adverse credit history (a credit check will be done).
  • In addition, you and your child must be U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens (see, not be in default on any federal education loans, not owe an overpayment on a federal education grant, and meet other general eligibility requirements for the federal student aid programs.
How do I request a Direct Parent PLUS Loan?

Your child must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). The fastest and easiest way to complete the FAFSA is online at, but there are several ways to complete it. Check with the financial aid office for other ways to complete the FAFSA.

Go to to apply. You (the parent) must also complete the Federal Direct PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN). The MPN explains the terms and conditions of your loan and is your legal agreement to repay your loan to ED. In most cases, a single MPN can be used for loans that you receive over multiple academic years. To complete the MPN go to You will need your FSA ID information to complete both the PLUS loan application and the MPN.

What happens after a parent PLUS loan application is received
  • Southern State will receive your Direct Parent PLUS loan information from Federal Student Aid and we will review the application.
  • If the Parent PLUS loan is approved we will add the loan to the student account, up to the cost of attendance minus any other aid they have, and the student will be able to review their funding on MyRecords.
  • We will send out a student loan award letter showing the Parent PLUS loan and any other aid the student might have on their account.
  • If the parent borrower is denied, the parent can reapply with an endorser or the student can be eligible for an additional Unsubsidized loan of up to $4,000 for the academic year. SSCC will send an email to the student's SSCC email letting them know how to apply for the additional Unsubsidized Direct Loan. The amount of the additional loan can vary, but cannot exceed the cost of attendance. Students cannot receive both the Parent PLUS loan and the additional Unsubsidized loan.
  • If the Parent PLUS loan is approved, the loan will be disbursed the 5th week of the semester to the student's account if all the requirements for the PLUS loan are been completed. If there is a credit balance due from the Parent PLUS loan, refunds will be sent to either the student or parent depending on how they answered the question on their application about where they want their credit balance to be sent.
Interest Rates and Loan Fees

Interest rates for the Parent PLUS loan are fixed for the life of the loan. For PLUS loans first disbursed on or after 7/1/22 and before 7/1/23 the interest rate is 7.54%.

The loan origination fee for PLUS loans disbursed on or after October 1, 2022, and before October 1, 2023, is 4.228%.

Repayment of Parent PLUS loan

Repayment of the Parent PLUS loan is made by the parent and cannot be transferred to the student. The repayment period begins 60 days after the parent received the last installment of the loan for a school year. To request or postpone payments until after the student is graduated or withdrawn parents should contact the loan servicer.

Alternative Loans

These are loans based upon the credit rating of the student or parents. Eligibility is determined by the lender. Southern State does not promote any particular vendor, but will certify any qualified candidate.