Financial Aid

Self-Help: Student Loans

Amherst College financial aid packages do not include student loans to meet demonstrated financial need. Students may still decide to borrow loans to purchase a computer, replace the student income contribution, or replace work in the financial aid package.  All student loan programs provide for long-term repayment at moderate interest rates.  The repayment period may be as long as ten years and a monthly minimum payment is required. Repayment of principal is not required while a student is enrolled at Amherst or another recognized post secondary institution. Repayment may be deferred for graduate school attendance, for service in the military, Peace Corps, Action programs such as Vista, and other social service agencies. Deferments may also be approved for temporary total disability, or unemployment.  The loan will be canceled in the event of death or total permanent disability. Other details are outlined below.

Student Loan Chart, 2014-2015

Federal Direct Stafford Loans

There are both subsidized and unsubsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans. The federal government pays the interest on subsidized loans while the student is in college.  The subsidized loan program is need-based; the amount that may be borrowed is limited to the difference between the student expense budget and all other financial aid received.  Unsubsidized loans are not need-based and may be borrowed for as much as the difference between the statutory loan limits (cited below) and the amount of subsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loan.  All aid resources (including parent loans) cannot exceed the student expense budget.  Interest on unsubsidized loans is charged from the disbursement of the loan funds.  Federal Direct Stafford Loans are administered by Amherst College.

A student may borrow a Federal Direct Stafford Loan (either subsidized, unsubsidized, or a combination) of as much as $3,500 as a first-year student, $4,500 as a sophomore, and $5,500 a year as a junior or senior.  Dependent students may borrow an additional unsubsidized loan of as much as $2,000 a year.  The cumulative loan maximum for dependent students is $31,000, of which no more than $23,000 can be subsidized.

Independent students may borrow additional unsubsidized loans of as much as $6,000 as a first-year student or sophomore, and as much as $7,000 as a junior or senior.  The cumulative maximum for independent students is $57,500, of which no more than $23,000 can be subsidized.

There is a federal origination fee of 1.073 percent for loans disbursed on or before October 1, 2015, which is subtracted from the loan amount before the remaining proceeds are credited to the student account. Loans disbursed on or after October 1, 2015 will have an origination fee of 1.068 percent.

The interest rate for the 2015-16 academic year has not yet been set. The interest rate for the 2014-15 academic year on the Subsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans was 4.66 percent.  The federal government pays the interest on subsidized loans while you are in college.

The interest rate for the 2014-15 academic year on the Unsubsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loans was 4.66 percent. Unsubsidized loans accrue interest from the date of disbursement.  Interest may be either paid as it accrues or may be deferred and capitalized (i.e., added to the loan principal) while you are in school and for a six-month “grace” period after graduation or termination of studies. The interest rate for the 2015-16 academic year has not yet been set.

To be eligible for the Federal Direct Stafford Loan, you must complete the 2015-2016 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). To request a Federal Direct Stafford Loan, please complete and submit the Student Loan Request Form to the Office of Financial Aid.  Federal statute requires that all students receiving a Direct Loan participate in Entrance Counseling and complete an electronic Master Promissory Note (eMPN) before receiving loan proceeds.  You can complete the Entrance Counseling on-line at the U.S. Department of Education website (https://studentloans.gov).  Use your FAFSA ID and password to log into the website.

Federal Perkins Loans

This federal program provides loans to students with demonstrated financial need, and is administered by Amherst College. The maximum that a student may borrow is $5,500 a year, and no more than $20,000 may be borrowed as an undergraduate. The interest rate is fixed at 5 percent.  There is no repayment required and no interest charged while a student is in college and for nine months after graduation or termination of studies. The program has special cancellation provisions outlined in the publication Notes Concerning your Financial Aid Award for additional information.

Amherst College Loans

The College provides loans from its own funds for a limited number of international students and for others whose borrowing requirements exceed federal loan limits or who do not qualify for federal loan programs. The interest rate is 5 percent for subsidized Amherst College Loans.  The grace period, deferment, and cancellation provisions of the Federal Direct Stafford/Ford Loan program apply to Amherst College Loans.  In some instances unsubsidized loans are offered.  Interest is charged from the making of an unsubsidized loan, although the borrower has the option of paying the interest as it is charged or allowing it to accumulate and be capitalized (i.e., be made a part of the loan principal) at the beginning of the repayment period. 

Computer Loans

Students who receive need-based grant from Amherst College are eligible for student loans to pay for the cost of a computer. 

Students who are eligible for federal financial aid are offered Federal Perkins Loans.  Student who are not eligible for federal aid (International students and others who receive institutional funding) are offered private Amherst College loans.

In both cases, the loan is a subsidized loan with a fixed interest rate of 5 percent.  Repayment begins at least 6 months after a student graduates or separates from the College, and no interest is paid or accumulated while the student is enrolled and during the grace period.  There is no pre-payment penalty should the loan be repaid prior to the end of the grace period.

Computer loans can be for up to the amount of $3,000 and can be used towards the purchase of:

  • Desktop or laptop computer
  • Extended Warranty (Required)
  • Printer
  • Cooling Pad (If you purchase a laptop)
  • Basic software purchased through the College

In order to receive a computer loan, students must submit a loan request in writing to the Office of Financial Aid.  In addition to the loan request, we need one of two documents submitted to our office:

  • A cost estimate from the vendor’s website from which the computer will be purchased.  The estimate must include: the computer’s configuration, the extended warranty, sales tax and shipping costs.  If a printer will also be purchased, the vendor’s estimate for the printer and/or cooling pad for a laptop must also be included as well. (1)

    or

  • A final invoice if a computer and extended warranty (printer and cooling pad if you wish) has been purchased upfront without initial loan funds.

The loan paperwork will be prepared in the Office of Financial Aid and students will be contacted to come to the office to sign the promissory note and disclosure statements.  Once the paperwork has been signed, a refund check will be issued to the student for the computer purchase. 

(1) Students who request a cash advance for the computer purchase must provide a final invoice to the Office of Financial Aid to complete the loan transaction.  If a computer purchased is less than the cost of the amount of the initial loan, the extra loan funds must be returned to the College immediately.

Students should check the Amherst College IT Website for recommended technical specifications.

Apple and Dell offer educational discounts, https://www.amherst.edu/offices/it/services/help/help-desk/new_students/discounted.

Please note a student loan cannot be used to purchase an iPad or Tablet.   You may receive one computer loan during your time at Amherst College.

Short-Term Loans

Short-term loans may be made to any Amherst student for emergency purposes and in case of financial need not covered in the usual procedures for long-term loans. The Morris Morgenstern Student Loan fund and the New England Society loan fund provide a limited number of interest-free short-term loans. Other, interest-bearing short-term loans are available through the College's Student Loan fund.