Federal Perkins Loan

Department of Education LogoFederal Perkins Loans are low-interest (currently 5%), long-term loans made through the school's Financial Aid office to help undergraduate and graduate students, with exceptional financial need, pay for postsecondary education. The amount of the Federal Perkins loan is determined by the Financial Aid office. This is a campus-based loan program, with the school acting as the lender using a limited pool of funds provided by the federal government. There are no origination or default fees; however, late fees will be assessed if payments are not received on time.

Annual maximum loan:





Aggregate maximum loan:


Grade levels 1 & 2 $11,000
Grade levels 3 & 4 $27,500



  • Enrollment in an eligible school at least half time in a degree program

  • U.S. Citizenship, Permanent Residency, or Eligible Non-Citizen Status

  • Satisfactory academic progress

  • No unresolved defaults or overpayments owed on Title IV educational loans and grants

  • Satisfaction of all Selective Service requirements

To apply for this loan program, you must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you have already been awarded a Federal Perkins Loan by Financial Aid and need more information, please contact 214-768-3417 and ask to speak to the Student Financial Operations Specialist handling Federal Perkins Loans.

Before receiving a Perkins loan, borrowers must complete an entrance counseling session. This session provides useful tips and tools to help borrowers develop a budget for managing their educational expenses and helps borrowers to understand their loan responsibilities. The counseling must be conducted in person, by audiovisual presentation, or by interactive electronic means.

The counseling session reviews basic facts about student loans:
  • Loan terms and conditions

  • Rights and responsibilities of the borrower

  • Use of the Master Promissory Note (MPN)

  • Repayment and consolidation plans

  • Deferment, forbearance, and cancellation options

  • Late payment and default consequences

  • Budgeting money

  • Borrower's responsibilities while he/she is in school

  • Importance of keeping lender(s) informed

To complete entrance counseling and electronically sign a Master Promissory Note for a Federal Perkins Loan, please visit .

Federal regulations require that institutions offer exit counseling to federal student loan borrowers who are graduating, withdrawing from the university, or dropping below half-time enrollment. Exit counseling covers:

  • Borrower's rights and responsibilities

  • Loan repayment

  • Consequences of default

During exit counseling, borrowers are also required to provide updated personal information, such as address, telephone number, and employment.

Schools must keep documentation that shows that the borrower received the required exit counseling, either electronically, in person or by mail.

If a borrower withdraws from school without the school's knowledge, or if a borrower fails to attend a scheduled exit counseling session, the school must mail written exit counseling materials to the borrower at his or her last known address.

To complete exit counseling/exit interview for a Federal Perkins loan, please visit .

NOTE: There will be a hold on all educational records (i.e. diploma, transcript, etc) until the exit interview is completed.

The Federal Perkins loan program has a nine month grace period so that borrowers begin repayment in the tenth month upon graduating, falling below half-time status, or withdrawing from their college or university. The federal government does not charge interest on the Federal Perkins loan while borrowers maintain an enrollment status of half-time (6 hours) or greater, during the nine month grace period or during authorized periods of deferment. For a list of authorized deferment periods visit

The monthly repayment will depend on the size of the debt and the length of the repayment period. The chart below shows typical monthly payments and total interest charges for three different 5% loans over a ten year period.

Total Loan Amount Number of Payments Approximate Monthly Payment Total Interest Charges Total Repaid
$4,000 120 $42.43 $1,091.01 $5,091.01
$5,000 120 $53.03 $1,364.03 $6,364.03
$15,000 120 $159.10 $4,091.73 $19,091.73

The borrower will be billed on the first of each month by our loan servicer, ECSI. ECSI offers several payments methods. Borrowers can make 3 types of payments online including Direct Payment (future or recurring ACH Payments), eCheck (single ACH payments drawn today), or Credit Card payments.

The borrower may choose to submit payment in the following manner:

  • Electronic at
    • SMU's School Code: 73
    • Account Number: Borrower's nine digit Social Security Number
    • Pin/Password: If you have not obtained one, please call ECSI, ph# 1-888-549-3274.
  • By check or credit card over the phone at 1-888-549-3274
  • By mail* at:
    • ECSI/73-Southern Methodist University
      181 Montour Run Road
      Coraopolis, PA 15108

*Please be sure to make the check or money order payable to Southern Methodist University and include the remittance portion of the ECSI billing statement. If the borrower does not have the remittance portion, please write 0+8 digit Student ID Number (ex. 012345678) in the Memo section. For additional questions, please contact ECSI at 1-888-549-3274.

Under certain conditions, borrowers can receive a deferment or forbearance on their loan. During a deferment, borrowers are allowed to temporarily postpone payments on their loan, and no interest accrues.

Deferments are not automatic. Borrowers must apply for one through ECSI, the agency the school employs to service their loans, by using a deferment request form. Borrowers must file their deferment request on time and continue making scheduled loan payments until they are notified their deferment has been granted/denied or they will be charged a late fee and may be reported late to the credit bureaus.

If borrowers are temporarily unable to meet their repayment schedule but are not eligible for a deferment, they can receive forbearance for a limited and specific period. During forbearance, payments are postponed or reduced. Interest continues to accrue; borrowers are responsible for it.

Forbearance is not automatic either. Borrowers may be granted forbearance in up to 12-month intervals for up to three years. Borrowers must apply for forbearance through ECSI, the agency the school employs to service their loans. Borrowers have to provide documentation to support their request for forbearance. Borrowers must continue making scheduled payments until they are notified that deferment or forbearance has been granted/denied or they will be charged a late fee and may be reported late to the credit bureaus.

For more information regarding deferment or forbearance eligibility, please visit

The loan can be cancelled if the borrower dies or becomes totally and permanently disabled. A loan can also qualify for cancellation under certain other conditions-as long as the borrower is not in default.

If the borrower serves as an enlisted person in certain specialties of the Armed Forces, the U.S. Department of Defense might, as an enlistment incentive, repay a portion of their student loan. Note that this is not a cancellation. If the borrower thinks they qualify, they should contact their recruiting officer.

If the borrower has any questions about the terms of their Federal Perkins Loan, repayment obligations, deferment, forbearance, or cancellation, they will need to check with the school and contact the loan servicer ECSI (ph#1-888-549-3274, Only the school may grant deferment, forbearance, or cancellation, or make other decisions concerning the loan.

For additional information regarding cancellation, please visit .

If a borrower is graduating and entering repayment on their Federal Perkins loan(s), or if a borrower has already entered into repayment, a Consolidation Loan can help ease the burden of loan payments. Loan consolidation provides many positive benefits such as low fixed interest rates, a longer repayment period, and a single monthly payment to one lender. These benefits often allow recent graduates to begin paying off their loans without placing an undo burden on their entry into the job market. However, depending on the borrower's specific circumstances, a consolidation loan may or may not be right for them.

For more information regarding consolidation, please visit .

Seriously delinquent Federal Perkins loans may be rehabilitated. After 9 consecutive on-time monthly payments, the account is considered current and reported to the credit bureaus and National Student Loan Database (NSLDS) as such. SMU will determine the amount to be paid during the rehabilitation. The borrower may rehabilitate the account only once. If the borrower defaults on the loan again after a successful rehabilitation the borrower cannot receive this benefit again.

For more information regarding Rehabilitation, please contact 214-768-3417 and ask to speak to the Student Financial Operations Specialist handling defaulted or delinquent Federal Perkins Loans.