There are a number of different types of loans available to students. Two terms to be aware of are subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Subsidized loans are need-based while unsubsidized loans are not. In addition, the subsidized loan does not begin accruing interest until six months after students stop attending college, while unsubsidized loans begin accruing interest as soon as the loan begins.

Parent PLUS Loan

If you or your student need additional funds to cover the cost of tuition, housing (if applicable), and miscellaneous expenses then you will want to consider applying for a Parent PLUS loan.

Step 1: Complete the online PLUS application at:
PARENT signs in with his/her FSA User ID and password.

Select the correct academic year.

Complete the application

When the application is complete you will be notified instantly of the results. It’s recommended that you keep a copy of the results for your records. FMU will be notified electronically.

Step 2: If PLUS is APPROVED and parent wants to continue with the PLUS process:

Step 3: If PLUS is DENIED …

Once your financial assistance file is complete, you will automatically be awarded additional loan funds in your (the student’s) name. Typically, the additional loan funds amounts are as follows:
Freshman or  Sophomore                $4000 year – $2000 per semester
Junior or Senior                              $5000 year – $2500 per semester

Step 4: How to determine when your PLUS or additional loan funds are on your FMU account:

Go to FMU’s Patriot Portal and select ‘Financial Aid’.  Note:  If this is your first time going to the Patriot Portal, use the following link to help set up the Portal for the first time: .

Direct Loans

Federal Direct Stafford Loan

Students must take the following steps to receive a federal student loan.

Step 1:
Required for all first time borrowers. You must have your FAFSA PIN available to use on the website.

Steps to Complete MPN

Step 2:
Required if you have never had a federal student loan. Loan entrance counseling is required of all recipients of student loans. If you have previously had student loan entrance counseling at FMU, you need not do so again. Students who are new to FMU or otherwise have not met this requirement must do so prior to receiving credit for a student loan.

Steps to Complete Loan Entrance Counseling

Additional Information about Direct Loans:

Direct Loans are available for both undergraduate and graduate borrowers. A student must be enrolled in at least a half-time status (six hours for undergraduate; three hours for graduate) in order to receive a Direct Loan. Loan repayment begins six months after graduation or departure from school.
A subsidized Direct Loan is awarded on the basis of financial need, as determined by the results of the FAFSA and other financial aid (such as grants and scholarships) that you receive. You will not be charged interest on the loan while you are in school at least half-time or during grace and deferment periods. The federal government “subsidizes” the interest on these loans.

An unsubsidized Direct Loan is not awarded on the basis of financial need. You will be charged interest on the loan from the time of the first disbursement until it is paid in full. If you allow the interest to accrue (accumulate) while you are in school (or during other periods of nonpayment), it will be capitalized. This means the interest will be added to the original principal amount of your loan, and additional interest will be based on the higher amount. Making interest-only payments while in school will result in a lower amount repaid in the long run.

Francis Marion University’s 2018 Cohort Default Rate (CDR) is 8.8%, which is above the National CDR of 7.3%.  64% of our students hold student loans.  You can find out more information about CDRs for FMU (OPEID# 009226) and for all schools at

Loan Amounts

The maximum amount you can borrow each academic year depends on your grade level and dependency status. See the chart for annual and lifetime borrowing limits. The amounts below are the maximum values — you might not be eligible for the maximum annual amounts because of other financial aid that you receive.

Order Below:

Dependent Undergraduate
Independent Undergraduate

(Up to $3,500 subsidized)

(Up to $3,500 subsidized)

$20,500 unsubsidized*

(Up to $4,500 subsidized)

(Up to $4,500 subsidized)

$20,500 unsubsidized*

Third and beyond
(Up to $5,500 subsidized)

(Up to $5,500 subsidized)

$20,500 unsubsidized*

Aggregate Loan Limits
(Up to $23,000 subsidized)

(Up to $23,000 subsidized)


How to Apply for a Stafford Loan

The FAFSA is required for both subsidized and unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans. By completing the FAFSA, we will automatically determine your eligibility for subsidized and unsubsidized loans and notify you of your eligibility. We will first process the maximum subsidized eligibility and then unsubsidized.

To complete the loan process, you will need to:
Complete Entrance Loan Counseling if this is your first student loan.
Complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) if this is your first Direct Loan.

Interest Rates

For all Stafford loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2021, the interest rate is as follows.

Loan Type




Interest Rate

3.73% fixed for all undergrad subsidized loans

3.73% fixed for all undergrad unsubsidized loans

5.28% for unsubsidized graduate loans

6.28% for parent plus and graduate plus loans

Grace Period (both)

6 months

Deferment (both)

6 months

Repayment (both)

You may receive a deferment if you are enrolled at least half-time or for unemployment or economic hardship.

The 6-month grace period starts the day after you graduate, leave school or drop below half-time. You don’t have to begin making payments until your grace period ends.

Promissory Notes

An electronic loan application will be created and transmitted to the U.S. Department of Education. First-time borrowers through the Direct Loan program will be directed to complete a promissory note. This can be done electronically. The promissory note is a legal, binding document whereby you agree to repay the loan.

Changing Loan Amounts

You are encouraged to only borrow needed funds. If the loan approval is more than you desire, you can reduce the amount by emailing the Financial Aid Office at
If you have questions about our loan process, you may contact our office at 843-661-1190.

Alternative Loans

Please contact the Office of Financial Assistance if you need additional aid for 2021-22.  Once you have been advised by the Office of Financial Assistance, you can complete an alternative loan application by selecting one of the lender options listed by clicking the link below or by applying through another lender of your choice. Make sure that you research the loan benefits and fees thoroughly so that you can choose the lender that best suits your needs. You have the right to select any alternative loan lender. The link to the list provided is meant to assist you and not to indicate that FMU limits your lender choice or has a preference for the lender you use.

Note that private loan applicants are now required to read, sign, and return additional disclosures, including a self-certification form, in addition to signing a promissory note. Most lenders will also require the school to certify the student’s eligibility for a private educational loan. This certification may come to you after you have returned the initially requested information to the lender; therefore, you are encouraged to follow your lender’s instructions and to monitor the application process carefully.

Things You Need To Consider Before Applying For An Alternative Loan:

Have you completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?

Have you talked to a financial assistance counselor to make sure that you have received the maximum amount of federal and/or state aid for which you qualify?

Has your biological or adoptive parent applied for a Parent PLUS loan? If your parent has not applied for the PLUS loan, have your parent read about the online PLUS application process. You should do this prior to applying for an alternative loan.

Choose A Lender:
View a list of lenders.

Most students will be expected to have a credit-worthy co-signer to be considered for these loans.

Also remember that each lender sets its own interest rate or fee assessment based on the credit worthiness of each borrower and his/her co-signer.