Federal Perkins Loan Program

Current Section  Purpose
 Office of Federal Student Aid Home

CFDA Number: 84.038
Program Type: Formula Grants, Loans
Also Known As: Formerly National Defense Student Loans, National Direct Student Loan, and Perkins Loan Program


The Federal Perkins Loan Program provides lowinterest loans to help needy students finance the costs of postsecondary education. Students attending any one of approximately 1,700 participating postsecondary institutions can obtain Perkins loans from the school.

The school's revolving Perkins loan fund is replenished by ongoing activities, such as collections by the school on outstanding Perkins loans made by the school and reimbursements from the Department for the cost of certain statutory loan cancellation provisions.

Students must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as part of the application process for a Perkins Loan. The FAFSA can be completed on the Web at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. For more information on the student aid award process, see the Federal Pell Grant Program (# 84.063, also under topical heading Federal Student Aid).

Students also will need to complete a Perkins promissory note in order to receive a loan.

Perkins borrowers are eligible for loan cancellation for teacher service at low-income schools and under certain other circumstances specified in the law (HEA). Students may defer repayment of the loan while enrolled (at least half-time) at a postsecondary school. A borrower who has difficulty repaying a Perkins Loan should contact the school where he or she received the loan to find out if he or she is eligible for a deferment or forbearance based on economic hardship or other circumstances.

FSA Handbook

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Last Modified: 04/11/2014