Federal Student Loans and Private Student Loans

Dedicated to Helping Students Successfully Finance Their Education

In addition to scholarships and grants, student loans represent another potential resource for funding your education. There are many types of student loan programs with varying eligibility requirements. It’s important to understand the life cycle of the type(s) of student loan(s) you borrowed and the expectations surrounding repayment.

We are here to help you navigate the student loan process. Follow the steps below to learn more and get your questions answered:

  1. Read through this page for a high-level introduction to student loans.
  2. Review the University Policy Handbook for the most detailed and up-to-date information about the loan program.
  3. Reach out to your student services counselor (SSC) for further questions and guidance.

For the latest student loan updates due to COVID-19 and the CARES Act, visit the Federal Student Aid website.

To learn more about loan repayment options and resources, visit the GCU loan repayment support page.

GCU is committed to helping students navigate the student loan process. Apply to GCU today and learn more about the available student loan options.

Types of Student Loans

Both Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans are originated and guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Education. You are required to repay both loan types six months after you graduate, withdraw or your enrollment falls below half-time. Please be aware there is an origination fee, a charge by the lender for processing your loan, for both loan types.

Direct Subsidized Loans are available to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need per the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest on Direct Subsidized loans while you’re in school at least half-time and during your grace period; so, in essence, the interest is deferred. For all other loan types, interest begins accruing upon disbursement. You can opt to pay the interest on Direct Unsubsidized Loans while enrolled at least half-time; however, it is not required.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to both undergraduate and graduate students, but you are not required to demonstrate financial need. Unsubsidized loans accrue interest immediately upon disbursement to your account. The federal government does not pay the interest on your behalf at any time.

Visit the Federal Student Aid website for annual loan limits and current interest fee(s).

Direct Grad PLUS Loans are awarded to students based on credit history. They are available to students enrolled in a graduate or professional program of study.

Direct Parent PLUS Loans are offered to the parent(s) of undergraduate students enrolled at least half-time. They are awarded based on credit history. If your parent is denied a PLUS Loan, you may request to borrow additional student loans. If your parent is approved for a PLUS Loan, repayment begins immediately unless your parent requests and is approved for a deferment.

For more information about the Direct Grad PLUS or Direct Parent PLUS loans, visit the Federal Student Aid website.

The Department of Education ended the Federal Perkins Loan Program as of Sept. 30, 2017. While Perkins loans are no longer offered, students currently repaying Perkins loans can visit the servicer Heartland ECSI at BorrowerEFPLS.ed.gov.

Private student loans, also referred to as Alternative Loans, are credit-based consumer loans that can be used for education-related expenses. They are generally more expensive than federal student loans. Although you won’t apply for a private loan through GCU, an approved private loan will be considered as part of your estimated financial aid.

For more information and to request a Private Education Loan Self-Certification form, contact your student services counselor at 855-GCU-LOPE.

Helpful Tip: Before applying for a private student loan, please compare origination fees, interest rates, the terms of repayment and the availability of deferment/forbearance.

Oftentimes, it is best to exhaust your federal student loan eligibility before applying for a private student loan.

Frequently Asked Questions About Student Loans

On or after October 1st of each year, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form online at StudentAid.gov to qualify for federal assistance such as federal loans, grants and/or work-study. Grand Canyon University uses the FAFSA information to determine your eligibility for federal financial aid as well as scholarships and/or other grants.

Learn more about FAFSA and the application process to get started.

If you plan to borrow student loans, you will need to log into your Federal Student Aid (FSA) account at StudentAid.gov to complete your Entrance Counseling and Master Promissory Note (MPN). If you are a current GCU student, speak with your student services counselor to learn more.

Once you have submitted all the required documentation and are eligible to receive federal aid, you will be notified of the types of awards available to you and the estimated cost for the academic year. Federal student loans will be awarded if there’s a completed Entrance Interview and Master Promissory Note on file.

Please notify your student services counselor if you wish to borrow less than what was awarded to you. Any funds in excess of the posted charges will create a credit balance on the account and an excess funds (stipend) check will be mailed to the borrower to help cover other educational expenses.

Remember, you must:

  • Maintain satisfactory grades in order to remain eligible for aid
  • Complete the FAFSA form (available October 1) before each school year
  • Be at least half-time status to receive federal loans

Once you graduate, withdraw or fall below half-time status, you will begin the repayment process.

It’s best to prepare to repay your student loans as you get closer to your graduation date. Fortunately, if you borrow federal student loans, you will be granted a six-month grace period before you start making payments. Use this time to organize your finances and choose the best repayment plan for your budget. Contact your loan servicer and/or GCU’s loan repayment support team to learn more about repayment options.

You may also explore all the repayment options, information and forms on the Federal Student Aid website through the U.S. Department of Education.


Arizona Student Loan Code of Conduct

The Arizona Student Loan Code of Conduct defines how a school’s Office of Financial Aid should interact with student loan lenders. The code, which GCU fully supports and complies with, was developed by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office in conjunction with Arizona universities and colleges.

ECMC Financial Literacy Program

GCU partners with ECMC Learning to teach student loan borrowers how to:

  • Manage their money in college and beyond
  • Build financial literacy
  • Successfully repay student loans

Registration for a free ECMC account is required in order to access this literacy program. Please visit ECMC Financial Literacy Program.

To minimize debt, and graduate with the least amount of debt possible, GCU encourages students to accept the most beneficial sources of financial assistance first, such as scholarships, grants, work-study (if eligible), student worker positions, and GCU’s interest-free payment plan options. Compare the terms of federal loans before applying for private loans.