Federal Student Loans

Student Financial Services (SFS) offers Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans for students, as well as Federal Direct PLUS loans for parents of undergraduate students. Federal loans are borrowed directly from the U.S. Department of Education (ED), and they have to be repaid with interest. Please visit ED’s https://fsapartners.ed.gov/knowledge-center/topics/default-management webpage to view Polk State College’s Cohort Default Rate and to see how it compares to other institutions or the national average. The percentage of students who borrow at Polk State College can separately be found at ED’s https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/school/?136516-Polk-State-College webpage.

Several individuals with extensive student loan expertise are available to answer your borrowing questions. For example, SFS’s Executive Director is a National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrator (NASFAA) Certified Financial Aid Administrator®. That being said, Charisse Bowe is our office’s point-of-contact for loans, and we recommend you speak with her by contacting cbowe@polk.edu or (863) 297-1004 if you have any concerns about taking out a loan. Students are also encouraged to review SFS’s Financial Literacy Guidance.


  1. You must have a completed, error-free (no verification pending) FAFSA.
  2. You must be enrolled in at least six credit hours.
  3. You must meet Satisfactory Academic Progress.
  4. You must correctly complete and submit a request.
  5. You must complete a Master Promissory Note.
  6. You must complete Entrance Counseling.
  7. Note:
    • The loan process could take some time; therefore, we strongly suggest you apply early. When your file is complete, federal student loans will be automatically packaged according to your eligibility.
    • First-time, first-year borrowers may not receive a disbursement until after the 30th day after the beginning of the payment period or the first day of class.
    • Borrowers who graduate or drop below half-time enrollment must also complete Exit Counseling by visiting https://studentaid.gov/exit-counseling. ED’s Direct Loan Exit Counseling Guide can be viewed at https://studentaid.gov/sites/default/files/exit-counseling.pdf.

Private / Alternative Loans

Private / alternative student loans are not provided or subsidized by the federal government; instead, they are funded by banks, credit unions, or other types of lenders. The bank or lender–not the federal government–sets interest rates, loan limits, terms, and conditions of private / alternative student loans. Please review the following table and visit https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/loans/federal-vs-private for more information on private / alternative student loans.

FederalPrivate / Alternative
You will not have to start repaying your federal student loans until you graduate, leave school, or change your enrollment status to less than half-time.Many private student loans require payments while you are still in school.
The interest rate is fixed and is often lower than private loans and much lower than some credit card interest rates. View the current interest rates on federal student loans.Private student loans can have variable interest rates, some greater than 18%. A variable rate may substantially increase the total amount you repay.
Undergraduate students with financial need will likely qualify for a subsidized loan where the government pays the interest while you are in school on at least a half-time basis.Private student loans are not subsidized. No one will pay the interest on your loan other than you.
You don’t need to get a credit check for most federal student loans (except for PLUS loans). Federal student loans can help you establish a good credit record.Private student loans may require an established credit record. The cost of a private student loan will depend on your credit score and other factors.
You will not need a cosigner to get a federal student loan in most cases.You may need a cosigner.
Interest may be tax deductible.Interest may not be tax deductible.
Loans can be consolidated into a Direct
Consolidation Loan. Visit https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/consolidation to learn about consolidation options.
Private student loans cannot currently be consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan.
If you are having trouble repaying your loan, you may be able to temporarily postpone or lower your payments.Private student loans may not offer forbearance or deferment options.
There are several repayment plans, including an option to tie your monthly payment to your income.Private student loans may not offer forbearance or deferment options.
There is no prepayment penalty fee.There may be prepayment penalty fees.
You may be eligible to have some portion of your loans forgiven if you work in public service.It is unlikely that your lender will offer a loan forgiveness program.
Free help is available at 1-800-4-FED-AID and on our websites.The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s private student loan ombudsman may be able to assist you if you have concerns about your private student loan.