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College of
Health Sciences

Loans, debt management and financial planning

Multiple types of loans are available for students. Before you commit to borrowing, understand how to manage debt and plan for your financial future.


Federal Direct Loans are offered by the U.S. Department of Education. The type of loan is based on financial need. This is a low-interest loan, and the U.S. Department of Education is your lender. Federal Direct Loans help students bridge the gap up to their cost of attendance (COA).

Helpful sites

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AES Success: American Education Services website

OVR Disability Services: The Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation website Federal Student Aid website

You Can Deal with It: A site to help college students and recent graduates deal with common financial situations.

Nursing students

You may be eligible for the following Federal Direct Loan types:

A Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan

For eligible parents of dependent undergraduate students to help pay for education expenses not covered by other financial aid. Eligibility is based on a credit check and not on financial need. Borrowers who have an adverse credit history must meet additional requirements to qualify. The 2024–2025 academic award year interest rate for this loan is 9.083%.
A Federal Direct Subsidized Loan

Available to eligible undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need to help cover educational costs. Interest does not accrue on this loan while you are enrolled in college. The 2024–2025 academic award year interest rate for this loan is 6.533%.
A Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan

Available to eligible undergraduate students to help cover educational costs. This loan is not based on need and accrues interest from the date of disbursement. The 2024–2025 academic award year interest rate for this loan is 6.533%.
  Note: Interest rates are subject to change. Changes to interest rates will be available after July 1 of each new academic award year.

How to apply

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Federal Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

(You will only need to complete these requirements once during your tenure at the college):

•  Log into
•  Choose the Complete Aid Process tab
•  Select “Entrance Counseling”
•  Follow the steps (it will take about 30 minutes to complete)
•  Once entrance counseling is complete, you’ll need to complete a master promissory note:
•  Choose the Complete Aid Process tab
•  Complete a master promissory note (MPN)
•  Select “I am an undergraduate student”
•  Select “MPN for Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan”

Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan

(Parent will apply annually):

•  Parent logs into
•  Choose the Apply for Aid tab
•  Select “Apply for a Parent PLUS Loan” (If you have a credit freeze, you will need to lift it from Transunion and Equifax before you can complete the application.)
•  Enter your child’s information (including their Social Security number and date of birth)
•  Term date should be 07/2024 to 06/2025
•  Loan amount: Enter the amount or choose maximum determined by school (if you choose to enter an amount, you’ll need to add a 4.228% origination fee)
•  Upon completion, you’ll receive an immediate credit decision
•  If approved, complete a Parent PLUS Master Promissory Note:
•  Choose Complete Aid Process tab
•  Complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN)
•  Select the MPN titled “I am a Parent of an Undergraduate Student”
•  If denied, you can seek an:
•  Endorser (a cosigner)
•  Appeal
•  Information on how to add an endorser or appeal the credit decision will be available under your denial notice on the web page.

Once you complete the above documents, the college will be notified electronically (typically within 24 hours).

Medical and graduate students

You may be eligible for the following Federal Direct Loan types:

Federal unsubsidized loans

Most graduate and professional students rely on student loans to finance a portion of their educational expenses. If funding is needed, students should first consider borrowing the maximum in the federal unsubsidized loan since it has a lower interest rate than the Grad PLUS Loan.

This loan is not based on need and accrues interest from the date of disbursement.

  • Interest rate: 8.083% effective July 1, 2024
  • Eligibility based on FAFSA
  • Interest accrues while the student is in school, during grace periods and during deferment. Maximum loan amounts determined by grade level (see eligibility chart below).
    • Aggregate limit for subsidized/unsubsidized loans for MBS students: $138,500
    • Aggregate limit for subsidized/unsubsidized loans for MD students: $224,000

Maximum loan eligibility

Graduate student $20,500 (MBS program)
MD1 student $41,611 (9.5-month academic year)
MD2 student $42,722 (10-month academic year)
MD3 student $44,944 (11-month academic year)
MD4 student $42,722 (10-month academic year)

Applying for unsubsidized loans

  • Complete the FAFSA and use Geisinger College of Health Sciences’ federal school code: G41672.
  • Complete Entrance Loan Counseling
  • Complete the Master Promissory Note (Manage my Direct Loan page).
  • Complete a new FAFSA each year in order for your Federal Unsubsidized Loans to be processed.
Federal Grad PLUS loans

  • Interest rate: 9.083% effective July 1, 2024
  • Approval is based on the credit history of the borrower; adverse credit history will affect eligibility. Check your credit history.
  • Students with adverse credit histories may still be eligible if they obtain an endorser.
  • Can be borrowed in addition to unsubsidized loan limits.
  • Students may request loans in amounts up to the cost of attendance.

Applying for the Federal PLUS loan

  • Apply online.
  • Click Manage My Direct Loan.
  • Sign in using your federal FSA ID number.
  • Click on Complete a PLUS Request Process.
  • Select Grad PLUS.
  • Complete the Grad PLUS application.
  • Complete the Grad PLUS Master Promissory Note and follow the steps to Complete a Grad PLUS Master Promissory Note.
  • The school will be notified electronically notified once you have completed the loan requirements for both the unsubsidized and/or Grad PLUS loan.

All students

Any student loans you take out may be subject to fees and restrictions, depending on your program and the amount borrowed.

Loan disbursement

Loan funds will be disbursed to Geisinger College at the beginning of each semester. One half of the approved amount, less fees, will be sent to the college in the fall and one half of the approved amount will be sent in the spring. For students who have borrowed on federal loans for living expenses, you can expect to see the credit on your account by the second week of the semester.

The bursar’s office offers direct deposit for students who are interested.

Loan origination fees

This is a mandatory fee charged by the U.S. Department of Education for all federal direct loan borrowers. The loan origination fee is a percentage of the amount of each loan you receive and is subtracted proportionately from each loan disbursement you receive. We strongly urge students to keep these fees in mind when calculating and accepting your financial aid award packages. The amount that is reflected on your award letter does not have the origination fees taken out and thus represents the amount that you have borrowed and not the credit that will be applied to your school account. 

The following required loan origination fees are taken out of the amount of your loan after you accept your financial aid award package:

  • For Direct Stafford unsubsidized loans first disbursed on or after Oct. 1, 2020, and before Oct. 1, 2025, a loan fee of 1.057% applies.
  • For Direct GRAD PLUS loans first disbursed on or after Oct. 1, 2020, and before Oct. 1, 2025, a loan fee of 4.228% applies.  

Private loans

Alternative private education loans are offered by banks or lending institutions to help bridge the gap between the cost of education and the amount of financial aid received. These are private loans that are not guaranteed by the federal government. If you choose to pursue a private alternative loan, you will submit your loan application directly to the lender.

Alternative private loans may vary in their terms and conditions (such as interest rates, repayment terms and fees). Therefore, the Office of Financial Aid cannot provide you with information about comparative pricing of private loans nor about the likelihood of your being approved with or without a cosigner.

With alternative private loans:

  • The borrower must be credit-worthy or have a credit-worthy co-signer
  • Students can apply for the loan; however, they may be required to have a co-signer
  • Most private educational loans have a co-signer release option
  • Since a credit check is likely, not everyone is approved for an Alternative Private Education Loan
  • Your interest rate is determined when you apply for the loan and a credit check is complete
  • There are no origination fees
  • You do not begin repayment until six months after the student graduates or withdraws from school

To find private loans used by many of our current students, visit ELMSelect and search “Geisinger.”

Planning for your future

We’re committed to informing you about default and debt management. Many of our students rely on student loans to help them with their educational costs. Carefully consider the amount of debt you’ll incur during your academic career. Borrowing loans to pay for college can have long-term financial implications. Like any other debt, a student loan is a serious financial obligation that must be repaid. 

You’ll be charged interest in addition to the principal amount you borrow. Failure to make on-time monthly payments may affect your credit rating and your ability to borrow in the future. 

Default and debt management education should start in your first year at the Geisinger College of Health Sciences and extend through graduation. While borrowing is easy, repayment can be challenging; it’s important to know what to expect. Before you borrow, you can find a loan simulator to estimate your loan repayment at

Things to consider

Before you borrow money to finance your education, keep these things in mind.


Do you need to borrow the full amount for which you are eligible?

Number of loans

If you decide to continue your education after graduating from Geisinger College of Health Sciences, your total indebtedness will be affected.

Loan limits

Most student loan programs specify the minimum and maximum amounts you can borrow.

Length of repayment period 

Choosing a shorter repayment period will reduce interest costs.

Minimum monthly payments

Your monthly payments will depend on the amount you borrow and the repayment plan you select.

Borrower’s rights and responsibilities

Be sure you understand your rights and responsibilities under each loan program and keep all financial aid paperwork.

Responsible student loan borrowing

Borrowing responsibly will help you:

  • Establish credit
  • Secure future loan borrowing for things like purchasing a home or car, or graduate school
  • Obtain credit cards
Repayment options


When you can postpone repaying your loan.


When a lender allows you to temporarily postpone repaying the principal, but the interest charges continue to accrue.


The combining of your student loans into one bigger loan from a single lender.

Loan forgiveness

When, under certain circumstances, the federal government will cancel all debt.

Default of your Federal Direct Loan

Neglecting your student loan responsibility may result in serious consequences. In some cases, the following steps may be taken to recover outstanding balances due:

  • The Department of the Treasury may offset your federal and/or state tax refunds and any other payments, as authorized by law, to repay your defaulted loan.
  • You may have to pay additional collection costs.

You may be subject to administrative wage garnishment. This is where the Department of Education requires your employer to forward 15% of your disposable pay toward repayment of your loan.

  • The Department of Education may take legal action to force you to repay the loan.
  • Credit bureaus may be notified, and your credit rating will suffer.

If your student loan goes into default, help is available. To find out if you are eligible for the Default Rehabilitation Program and to establish a monthly repayment plan, contact your loan servicer.

Removing default status

If you’re in default of your Federal Student Loan, you have options to help reinstate your eligibility to receive Federal Title IV aid:

  • Pay the balance on your defaulted loan in full
  • Rehabilitate your loan (contact your lender for information and how to enroll)
  • Consolidate your loan at Student Aid
  • For more information on how to get out of default, visit Manage Your Default.

Borrowers’ rights and responsibilities

As a student loan borrower, you have rights and responsibilities. It is important to be informed about all aspects of your student loans, including: 

  • Loan balances
  • Repayment options
  • Fees
  • Grace periods
  • Interest rates
  • Default and its consequences
  • Consolidation 

As a student loan borrower, you’re borrowing money and agreeing to pay it back. You’re also bound by many important responsibilities during the life of the loan. If you don’t repay your loan on time or according to the terms in your promissory note, you may go into default. Default has serious consequences and will affect your credit rating.

Students studying

Debt management and financial planning for medical students

Medical students’ debts are increasing. Students should have a reasonable estimate of the total cost of attending for four years, the amount required to finance their education and the repayment plans available following graduation. The financial aid staff can help students create budgets and financial plans that fit their individual needs.

Debt management

Manage debt early

Debt management begins before a student applies for the first medical school loan.

Minimizing medical school debt now will eliminate the negative consequences of excessive debt as students begin practicing medicine.

Higher medical school debt creates higher monthly loan payments after graduation.

Take advantage of the financial educational opportunities available by:

  1. Individual and group counseling
  2. Attending one (mandatory) debt management session per semester
  3. Borrowing only the amount needed and living on a modest student budget
  4. Review financial aid resources such as PowerPoint presentations, webinars and visiting useful website such as AAMC Financial Wellness and the financial aid section of the AAMC website

Debt management sessions

As part of Geisinger Commonwealth’s ongoing commitment to financial literacy and debt management, the Office of Financial Aid has developed and implemented a curriculum to address our students’ needs in these areas. The curriculum consists of one mandatory debt management/financial literacy session per semester for each of the students’ eight semesters of enrollment. 

Topics include:

  • Entrance loan counseling
  • Exit loan counseling
  • Focus on credit
  • Financial planning – managing your finances
  • Loan repayment options
  • Public service loan forgiveness
  • Budgeting

Helpful links

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is an excellent resource of financial and debt management information for medical students. Most of the references listed below are taken directly from the AAMC website. All MD students are encouraged to review the materials on the AAMC site in detail.

Financial planning

When preparing a financial plan, carefully review all expenses and consider all funding options. The staff at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine encourages all students to minimize expenses and debt, as well as excess borrowing.

Benefits of a financial plan

  • Eliminates last-minute stress by preparing for receipt of invoice.
  • Reduces burdensome debt through careful planning and thoughtful choices.
  • Sets a foundation for each student to meet his/her educational goals.

Financial aid calculators

Loan repayment/forgiveness scholarship programs

Helpful links

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