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Federal & State Loans

Federal Educational Loans

SFCM participates in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. Under this program, the lender is the U.S. Department of Education.   

You borrow directly from the federal government and you have online access to Direct Loan account information via the servicer's website. Federal student loans are required by law to provide a range of flexible repayment options, including, but not limited to, income-based repayment and income-contingent repayment plans, and loan forgiveness benefits, which other student loans are not required to provide.

You can switch repayment plans as your financial needs change. Please see for additional information. Federal direct student loans are available to students regardless of income.

Types of Federal Loans

A Federal Direct Subsidized loan is awarded based on financial need. Principal and interest are deferred as long as a student maintains at least half-time enrollment and for the first six months after the student leaves school or drops below half-time enrollment. After this six-month grace period, the student is required to make payments on the loan including interest.

A Federal Direct Unsubsidized loan is not based on a family’s demonstrated financial need. Interest begins accruing immediately, even while the student is in school, in a grace period, or in deferment. Repayment of the principal begins six months after you are no longer enrolled at least half-time, though interest payments begin 30 days after the first disbursement.

The U.S. Government has origination fees that apply to both the Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans. The origination fee will be deducted from your loan automatically by the federal government before the loan  funds are released to SFCM. Students accepting their Federal Direct Loan(s) on their Financial Aid Letter will have their loan data electronically transmitted to their billing account.

All first-time SFCM borrowers are required to sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and complete entrance counseling online at before any loan funds can be released.

Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loans are federal loans designed to assist parents with the educational expenses for dependent undergraduate students. This loan is in the parent’s name specifically for their student's educational costs. Graduate students may also apply for the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan in their own name. PLUS Loans are available up to the Cost of Attendance (COA) minus any financial aid received. The maximum amount is determined by SFCM. A credit check determines eligibility. The financial aid office will initiate the certification process for all accepted PLUS loans after July 1. Both the loan applicant and the Office of Financial Aid will be notified of the credit check results. Applicants will have their loan data electronically transmitted to SFCM. The U.S. Government charges origination fees that apply to these loans. The federal government will deduct the origination fee from your loan automatically before releasing the loan funds to SFCM. A separate Master Promissory note is required for the PLUS loans.

Annual Loan Limits

Year in School Dependent Students (except students whose parents are unable to obtain PLUS Loans) Independent Students (and dependent undergraduate students whose parents are unable to obtain PLUS Loans)
Freshman $5,5001 $9,5001
Sophomore $6,5002 $10,5002
Junior/Senior $7,5003 $12,5003
Graduate and Postgraduate N/A $20,500
Subsidized and Unsubsidized Aggregate Loan Limit $31,0004 $57,500 for undergraduates4
$138,500 for graduate or professional students5

1. No more than $3,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.
2. No more than $4,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.
3. No more than $5,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.
4. No more than $23,000 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.
5. No more than $65,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans. The graduate aggregate limit includes all federal loans received for undergraduate study.

Private Alternative Loans for Education

Parents and students sometimes inquire about other loans that can meet educational costs not covered by institutional and federal financial aid. Most of these alternative loans are credit-based; more information about them is available in the Office of Financial Aid.

The Office of Financial Aid encourages students who are eligible for federal student aid to exhaust all federal and state options, including federal loans, before applying for a private loan. You must complete the FAFSA to be considered. Federal student loans generally have more favorable terms and conditions than private loans. Before borrowing a private loan:

  • Compare it to the Federal Direct PLUS Loan.
  • Ask questions of your lender.
  • Borrow only what you absolutely need.
  • Calculate your estimated monthly payment and total repayment amount.

An alternative loan is an agreement between the borrower, co-signer (if required), and the lender. The Conservatory cannot in any way be held liable in the event the borrower is dissatisfied with the rates, terms, or service provided by any lender, nor is the Conservatory responsible for any damages incurred by the student as a result of the student’s choice of lender. You have the right to select the alternative lender of your choice.

International Loans

International Student Loan Program

There are loans available for international students from the International Student Loan Program (ISLP). The program requires a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident living in the United States. A student may borrow between $1,000 and the cost of education, less any other financial aid received. For more information about this program please visit

Wilford Kelly '20

MM, Voice
Wilford Kelly

I’m proud to be the first person in my family to pursue music as a vocation, which is only possible because of the support I’ve received. My family contributed all that they could to my musical studies, but coming from a single-parent household, I’ve pretty much been on my own financially since age 18. Right after high school, I started working three jobs to make ends meet. To become a successful musician requires a tremendous investment of time in lessons, classes, practice, rehearsal, and performance. The only way I’m here today is because of scholarship support and the generosity of donors.”


Kellie Gaines, M.Ed

Director of Financial Aid