Responsible Borrowing

For many students, borrowing in order to finance their college degree is necessary. We encourage all students who need to borrow to do so responsibly.

In order to borrow responsibly, students should:

  • Create a budget every year to help keep borrowing to a minimum by only borrowing what you need and not what you want.
  • Review their current loan balance. Students can find their current loan balance by reviewing the “Loan Pmt Estimate” in their AccessPlus account or by logging into their account with the National Student Loan Data System at
  • Understand and be realistic about their earning potential after graduation.
  • Accept their loans on a semester basis via their AccessPlus account. If you are not sure if you will need a loan offered, don’t accept it until you know for sure. As long as you remain eligible, the loan will remain available to you to accept at a later date if you so choose.
  • Use all federal aid first. Federal loans tend to have more flexibility in terms of repayment, deferment and forbearance options.

Borrowing Options

Federal Options

Federal education loans include the Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loan, Federal Parent PLUS Loan, Federal Graduate/Professional PLUS Loan, and the Federal Perkins Loan.

Federal loans are funded by the U.S. Department of Education. In order to apply for all federal loans, the student must have a FAFSA on file. The FAFSA is the only required application for the Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans. The Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans do not require a credit review or a co-signer. The Parent and Graduate/Professional PLUS loans do require an additional application and a credit review. The Federal Perkins Loan has limited funding and is subject to Iowa State University’s March 1 deadline.

Private Student Loans

Private student loans are education loans funded by a third party. Private student loans require a separate application, credit review and possible co-signer. Private student loans cannot be consolidated with federal student loans.