Student Loan Frequently Asked Questions

Heartland Community College participates in the Federal Direct Loan Program. Under this program, the Heartland Financial Aid Office determines loan eligibility and the loans are made by the U.S. Department of Education.

Federal Direct loans are educational loans that must be repaid with interest. We encourage you to consider all other options for financing your education first and use a student loan as a "last resort." Think carefully before you borrow under this loan program as there are serious consequences to not repaying student loans.

What types of student loans are available?

There are three types of loans available:

  • Direct Subsidized
  • Direct Unsubsidized
  • Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) for parents
What is a Direct Student Loan?

There are two types of Direct Student Loans: Subsidized and Unsubsidized.

Direct Subsidized

A Direct Subsidized loan is a need-based loan, which means you must demonstrate financial need according to data submitted on the FAFSA.

Interest begins accruing on the loan at the time the loan funds are disbursed, but the federal government pays (subsidizes) the interest while you are enrolled in school on at least a half-time basis. You do not make any payments on the loan while you are in school.

Direct Unsubsidized

A Direct Unsubsidized loan is not based on financial need. As long as you meet other general eligibility requirements, you can borrow from the loan program.

Interest begins accruing on the loan when funds are disbursed. You are responsible for paying the interest while you are in school.

You can also capitalize your interest. With this option, you pay no interest while in school. However, interest accrues and is added to the amount you borrow, which means your loan amount continues to increase.

We recommend you pay interest on an unsubsidized loan while in school.

Borrowing Limit

Under the Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized programs, you may generally borrow up to $5,500 as a freshman and up to $6,500 as a sophomore.

Under special circumstances, independent students may be eligible to borrow additional funds of up to $4,000 under the Unsubsidized program. Need for these additional funds are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Interest Rate

For the 2017-2018 academic year, the interest rate on Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized loans is 4.45%.


  • Apply for financial aid using the FAFSA.

  • Have a completed and verified, if necessary, student aid record on file.

  • Get admitted to Heartland Community College in a degree seeking program or approved certificate program.

  • Meet Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards.

  • Enroll in at least six credit hours.

  • Make sure you are not in default on any educational loan and do not show an unwillingness to repay an educational loan or owe any refund on a grant or student loan.

  • Meet with a Heartland Community College loan officer for pre-loan counseling and complete a Student Loan Request Form if required.

  • Schedule an appointment to meet with a financial aid officer if you have significant prior borrowing as part of the college's debt management plan. You may be required to submit an appeal to the College's Appeals Committee in order to borrow additional funds under the student loan program.

What is a PLUS Loan?

A PLUS loan is a loan that parents can receive. It helps cover educational expenses for their dependent, undergraduate student.


After the student submits a FAFSA, the parent may apply for a PLUS Loan.

  1. Complete the FAFSA. This determines eligibility for a Direct Student Loan, which must be determined before parents can be considered for a PLUS Loan.
  2. Fill out a Fall 2017 - Spring 2018 - Summer 2018 Heartland PLUS loan application (PDF). Download 2017-2018 instructions (PDF) for completing the PLUS loan application.

Borrowing Limits

Parents can borrow up to the cost of education at Heartland, less any financial aid their student is receiving.

Interest Rate

The current interest rate is 7.00% and interest accrues as soon as the loan is disbursed. Repayment of the loan begins within 60 days of the loan being fully disbursed.

What is entrance loan counseling?

Before you can receive your Direct Student loan funds, you must complete an entrance loan counseling session each academic year with the U.S. Department of Education.

About the Session

The counseling session informs you about your rights and responsibilities as a borrower, explains the importance of loan repayment and makes sure you understand the consequences of defaulting on a student loan.

Where to Complete Your Session

Complete online loan counseling through the U.S. Department of Education's Web site. Sign in using your federal pin number. Select "Complete Entrance Counseling."


Contact the Financial Aid Office if you have any questions about online loan counseling.

How do I complete my Master Promissory Note?

Direct Student Loans are repaid with interest. Therefore, you’re required to sign a promissory note each time you borrow. The note acts as your promise to repay the loan and is a legally binding document between you and the U.S. Department of Education.

Complete the Master Promissory Note (MPN) through the U.S. Department of Education's Website. Sign in using your federal pin number. Select "Complete Master Promissory Note."

If you have questions about completing the MPN, contact the Financial Aid Office.

What is exit loan counseling?

Before graduating or if you drop below half-time attendance, you must complete an exit loan counseling session.

About the Session

The exit loan counseling session:

  • Reviews your repayment obligation

  • Provides information on typical monthly repayment amounts based on various levels of borrowing

  • Explains deferment and forbearance options

  • Stresses the serious consequences of defaulting on a federal student loan

Types of Sessions

In-person exit loan counseling sessions can be scheduled during your last semester of attendance.

Online exit loan counseling is also available.

Contact the Financial Aid Office if you have any questions concerning the exit loan counseling requirement.

What is Heartland Community College's Student Loan Code of Conduct?

The 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act requires that all institutions adopt a Student Loan Code of Conduct, which serves as the formal guiding principles in insuring integrity of the student loan process and ensures the ethical conduct of Heartland Community College (HCC) employees in regard to student loan practices.

Interaction with Borrowers

Heartland Community College participates in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program through the U.S. Department of Education. This program includes Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized and Direct Parent PLUS loans.

To a much lesser extent, private education loans are also processed for students at their request as needed.

HCC does not maintain a preferred lender list for private student loans nor does it recommend any private lender. All decisions concerning private education loans will be made by the borrower based on his/her independent review of lender benefits and services. HCC will not refuse to certify or delay certification of any private education loan based on the borrower’s selection of a particular lender or guaranty agency.


Employees of the HCC Financial Aid Office are prohibited from receiving gifts from any lender, guaranty agency or loan servicer. Exceptions related to specific types of activities or literature include the following:

  1. Brochures or training material related to default aversion or financial literacy
  2. Food, training or informational materials as part of training as long as the training contributes to the professional development of those individuals attending the training
  3. Favorable terms and benefits to the student employed by the institution as long as those same terms are provided to all students at the institution
  4. Entrance and exit counseling as long as the institution's staff are in control and they do not promote the services of a specific lender
  5. Philanthropic contributions from a lender, guaranty agency or servicer unrelated to education loans
  6. State education, grants, scholarships or financial aid funds administered by or on behalf of the State

Contracting Arrangements

Employees of the HCC Financial Aid Office shall not accept, from any lender or affiliate of any lender, any fee, payment or other financial benefit as compensation for any consulting arrangement or other contract to provide services to a lender or on behalf of a lender relating to education loans.

Revenue Sharing

HCC will not enter into any revenue-sharing arrangement with any lender. This is defined as any arrangement between a school and a lender that results in the lender paying a fee or other benefits, including a share of the profits, to the school, its officer, employees or agents, as a result of the school recommending the lender to its students or families of those students.

Opportunity Pool Loan

HCC will not request or accept from any lender any offer of funds to be used for private education loans including funds for an opportunity pool loan in exchange for HCC providing concessions or promises to the lender for a specific number of loans, or inclusion on a preferred lender list.

Staffing Assistance

HCC will not request or accept, from any lender, guarantor or servicer of student loans, any assistance with call center staffing or financial aid office staffing.

Advisory Board Compensation

Employees of the HCC Financial Aid Office who serve on any advisory board, commission or group established by a lender, guarantor or student loan servicer are prohibited from receiving anything of value from the lender, guarantor or loan servicer for serving in this capacity, except that an employee may be reimbursed for reasonable expenses incurred while serving in this capacity.

Contact Us

Financial Aid Office

Community Commons Building (CCB), Room 1106
1500 W. Raab Rd.
Normal, IL 61761
Phone: 309-268-8020

Office Hours

Monday & Tuesday: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Wednesday: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Thursday: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Friday: 8:00 am - 4:30 pm