Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans are available to most undergraduate, graduate, and professional students regardless of income. Loans can help students pay their tuition and fees and other educational & living expenses while they are students.

Characteristics of Federal Student Loans

  • Low interest rates
  • Affordable repayment options
  • Deferment options while attending school or experiencing financial hardship
  • Loan forgiveness benefits for qualifying situations and/or professions

Explore Federal Student Loans by Student Type

Private Loans

Private loans, also known as non-federal loans, can help bridge the gap between financial aid and the cost of attendance. These loans are offered by private banks, credit unions, or state-affiliated organizations, and have terms and conditions that are set by the lender.

Students apply for private loans through their lender of choice. If approved, or to make changes to the amount of a previously approved private student loan, students must complete the appropriate academic year Non-Federal Private Loan form on the UNLV Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships forms page.

The Fresh Start Program

Fresh Start is a temporary program from the U.S. Department of Education that allows students whose federal loans are in default status to resolve the default and regain access to federal student aid. The Fresh Start program will expire on September 30, 2024.

Loans Eligible for Fresh Start

  • Defaulted Direct Loans
  • Defaulted Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans
  • Defaulted U.S. Department of Education-held Perkins Loans

Loans Not Eligible for Fresh Start

  • Defaulted school-held Perkins Loans
  • Defaulted Health Education Assistance Loan Program loans
  • Student loans remaining with the U.S. Department of Justice
  • Direct Loans and commercial-held FFEL Program loans that defaulted after the end of the pause on student loan payments and collections

Repaying Your Student Loans

Students have a grace period of six months after they graduate, withdraw, or drop below half-time enrollment before they are required to begin repaying their loans. The grace period of a loan depends on the loan you are borrowing. More information about a loan’s grace period can be found within the Master Promissory Note.


Deferment is a temporary postponement of repayment that is allowed under certain conditions. During this time, interest may still accrue on the loan. Students who are interested in exploring this option will need to submit a request to their loan servicer and demonstrate that they meet the eligibility requirements for deferment. Students can log into their Federal Student Aid account to view their loan servicer or they can contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center. Students who are enrolled in a degree-seeking program and maintain half-time enrollment can receive in-school deferment.

Loan Forgiveness

In certain situations, a student can have their federal loans forgiven, canceled, or discharged. The most common way to apply to have federal student loans forgiven is through Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).

You may qualify for loan forgiveness if you work full-time for a public, non-profit, or certain private-sector public service agency and repay your loans under an Income-driven Repayment Plan. After 120 qualifying payments, any remaining loan balance would be forgiven.

In addition, borrowers on income-driven repayment plans will have any remaining loan balance forgiven after a maximum of 20-25 years of repayment. See Student Loan Forgiveness for more information.

Repayment Benefits for Federal Direct Loans

The benefits of Federal Direct Loans include various repayment options such as:

  • Standard Repayment Plan
  • Graduated Repayment Plan
  • Extended Repayment Plan
  • Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan 
  • Income-Based Repayment Plan
  • Income-Contingent Repayment Plan
  • Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) Repayment Plan

More information about repayment plans can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.