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Heartland Community College

Federal Student Loans

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.

There are three types of loans available:

  • Direct Subsidized
  • Direct Unsubsidized
  • Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) for parents

Direct Student Loans


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.


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.

We recommend you pay interest on an unsubsidized loan while in school, but you have to option to 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. 


  • 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 (PDF).

  • Enroll in at least six credit hours.  Loan(s) will not disburse if you are in less than six credit hours at time of disbursement.

  • 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 complete a smart borrower packet in order to borrow additional funds under the student loan program.

Borrower Information Sheet

A form that requires two references and how to access your financial history. This form is required yearly when borrowing at HCC. Complete the Borrower information sheet (PDF) and turn in to the financial aid office. 

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.

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.

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."

Master Promissory Note (MPN)

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."


Exit Loan Counseling

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

  • Review your repayment obligation

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

  • Explain deferment and forbearance options

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

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

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 2022-2023 academic year, the interest rate on Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized loans is 4.99%.Learn more about interest rates here.

Plus Loans

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 Heartland PLUS loan application (PDF).

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 7.54% and interest accrues as soon as the loan is disbursed. Repayment of the loan begins within 60 days of the loan being fully disbursed. Read more about interest rates here.

Contact Us

Financial Aid Office

Community Commons Building (CCB), Room 1101
1500 W. Raab Rd.
Normal, IL 61761

Phone: 309-268-8020



To schedule an online or in -person appointment, please visit the Heartland Navigate tile found within your Student Center.

Walk-ins are available from 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday

Responsible Borrowing Video

Responsible Borrowing

How to complete exit counseling

How to Complete Exit Counseling