Federal Direct Loans at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College | Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

Federal Direct Loans at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

As graduate students in either the rabbinical program or Master of Arts in Jewish Studies program, matriculated students who are enrolled at the College at least half-time are eligible to apply for a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan up to a maximum of $20,500 per academic year. This Federal Direct loan is an unsubsidized loan, which means the interest begins to accrue upon disbursement. To be eligible for a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan, the student must be a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national or an eligible non-citizen. In addition, male students must register with the Selective Service.

In order to meet U.S. Department of Education regulations, all students applying for a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan must comply with the following conditions:

I. Requirements for First-Time RRC Applicants

(The loan cannot and will not be processed until applicants have completed these steps.)

A. Complete the Online Entrance Counseling Session

All students who are first-time Federal Direct Loan borrowers at RRC are required to participate in federally-mandated entrance counseling, which should be completed online at www.studentloans.gov. Following the instructions, the student should answer all of the questions and complete the session. The College will verify that the student has completed the required online entrance counseling session.

B. Register for FSA Student ID

All students must register for a FSA Student ID, which is a user name and password. If you do have a FSA ID, you can create one when logging into www.fafsa.gov. You need the FSA ID to access all the federal aid websites.

C. Complete Master Promissory Note

All first-time Direct Loan borrowers at must complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) online at www.studentloans.gov. The MPN is a legally binding agreement stating that you must repay your loan(s) to the Department of Education. The MPN that you file will be a “Multi-Year” MPN and will be used for the first and all subsequent loans that you receive while you are enrolled at least half-time at RRC. You should notify the College’s loan administrator, Nora Downy at NDowney@RRC.edu after you have completed the MPN.

D. Your Lender

RRC participates in the Federal Direct Student Loan Program. Your lender will be the federal government.

Federal Grad PLUS Loans at RRC

The U.S. Department of Education makes Federal Direct Grad PLUS Loans to eligible borrowers. The U.S Department of Education is the lender. A credit check is done for the Grad PLUS Loan. You must not have an adverse credit history. The maximum loan amount is the Cost of Attendance (set by RRC) minus any other financial aid received.

To be eligible to receive a Grad PLUS loan you must be enrolled at least half-time in an eligible program. You must not have an adverse credit history.

To apply for a Grad PLUS loan you must complete the appropriate year Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.gov. You must also complete a Grad PLUS application and a Grad PLUS promissory note at www.studentloans.gov. Students receiving a Grad PLUS loan for the first time must complete on-line Grad PLUS entrance counseling at www.studentloans.gov.

The current year interest rate (2018-2019) for the Grad PLUS loan is 7.60%. This is a fixed rate for the life of the loan. There is also a loan origination fee of 4.264% deducted from the loan before it is credited to your student tuition account.

All Grad PLUS loans are disbursed in two equal payments. Half for the Fall semester and half for the Spring semester.

II. Annual Requirements for all RRC Applicants

A. File Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) should be completed online and submitted to the Department of Education. The student should use “FAFSA on the Web” at www.fafsa.gov. The information needed to answer Line 90 of the FAFSA is as follows:

  1. Title IV school code: G2273400
  2. College name: Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
  3. College address: 1299 Church Road, Wyncote
  4. State: PA
  5. Housing code: 2

When the FAFSA is processed, the federal government applies a formula established by law to the information that the student provides. This formula measures the student’s financial strength on the basis of income and assets and is used to determine the student’s eligibility for federal student aid. The formula result is called the Expected Family Contribution or EFC, and it indicates how much money the student is expected to contribute toward the cost of attendance in the academic year for which the student is applying.

Here are the steps to apply for federal aid using the online FAFSA:

  • Register for a FSA user name and password (See Section I.B., above)
  • Gather the information required to apply:
    • Your Social Security number
    • Your driver’s license number if you have one
    • Your Alien Registration Number if you are not a U.S. citizen
    • Federal tax information or tax returns, including W2 information for yourself and your spouse if you are married, using income records for the prior, prior year to the academic year for which you are applying. You should use the IRS Retrieval Tool in the FAFSA to obtain your Tax Information from the IRS.
    • Records of untaxed income (such as social security benefits, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families [TANF] benefits and veterans’ benefits) and information on savings, investments, and business and farm assets for yourself and your spouse (if applicable).
    • Complete Your Application: Enter all necessary information at www.fafsa.gov. If you need help, there are help links on each page of the online application.
    • Submit Your Application: After you submit your application, make sure you receive a confirmation number. This number tells you your application has been successfully submitted. Keep this confirmation number for your records.
    • Follow Up On Your FAFSA: Your application will be processed and you will receive an email with a link to your Student Aid Report (SAR). If you did not provide an email address, you will receive your SAR by mail. You should review your SAR for any necessary corrections or updates. If you do not hear from the department of Education within three weeks, go to www.fafsa.gov and select: “Check status of a submitted FAFSA or Print Signature Page.”
    • Free Help is Available: Online/By Phone at www.fafsa.gov. “Help” buttons on every page of the online application will take you to additional help. You can also click the “Live Help” button to chat with a customer service representative online between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time. Call 800.4.FOR.AID (800.433.3243) or 800.730.8913 (TTY) for the hearing impaired.

B. Provide Active Confirmation of Loan Amount

There is no space on the MPN to specify the amount to borrow. In keeping with federal regulations, RRC uses the “active confirmation” process, meaning that the student must tell RRC’s loan administrator, via e-mail NDowney@RRC.edu or via a signed and dated letter/note, the exact amount of Federal Direct Loan that the student is requesting for the applicable academic year. (The annual federal loan limit for a graduate student is $20,500 in unsubsidized Direct Loan.)

C.  Register for Classes

The student must register for classes by the RRC deadline. The College must know whether the student will be enrolled full-time (at least 10 credits per semester), or half-time (at least six credits per semester). We will not be able to certify the loan until the student has registered for classes. A loan cannot be processed for a student attending less than half-time.

III. Requirements for Israel Equivalency Year (Or Semester)

A. School Selection

A student planning to spend the next academic year (or semester) in Israel must indicate RRC as the school choice on Line 90 of the FAFSA. (See II.A, above, for the remaining information for line 90.)

B. During the Semester Prior to Leaving for Israel, the student should:

  1. File the FAFSA, provide active confirmation, provide tax return, register for classes, and review SAR. (See II.A, B, and C, above.)
  2. Execute Power of Attorney. The student must select an individual (not a RRC employee) who will agree to be readily available to execute any document(s) necessary to facilitate the processing of the Federal Direct Loan for the period of time that the student is in Israel. Both the student and the attorney-in-fact will have to execute a power of attorney, which will remain in the student’s loan file at RRC.
  3. Provide Refund Check Instructions. The student must submit written instructions—as well as deposit slips – as well as pre-addressed stamped envelopes – specifying how RRC should disburse the student’s loan refund check: Should it be sent to the student’s parents, to his/her bank or to the student in Israel? All of this information should be sent to the Controller’s Office so they can make the appropriate arrangements.
  4. Register for Israel Classes. As soon as the student is registered for classes in Israel, he/she must inform RRC’s registrar’s office.

IV. Important Regulations and Definitions

A. Academic Year

An academic year at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College consists of at least 30 weeks of study, and includes at least 20 credit hours.

B. Applications Containing Conflicting Information

If conflicting information is included on the FAFSA, or if there is any reason to believe that the FAFSA information is incorrect, the student is required to resolve such issues before the loan is certified.

Most errors requiring corrections appear on the Student Aid Report. When an error does occur, see RRC’s loan administrator, who will provide assistance in making the necessary corrections with the U.S. Department of Education.

C. Satisfactory Progress

RRC evaluates students on a yearly basis to ensure performance at a level that meets the approval of the faculty member(s) who conduct the evaluation.

Full-time students are expected to complete the program in no more than eight years. Students attending part-time must complete their course work within 10 years. On a cumulative basis, a student must have completed at least 75% of the total courses attempted.

The following procedures ensure the students meet the academic standards at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College:

  • Every student receives an evaluation for each course taken
  • The academic dean reviews these evaluations
  • The academic dean reports failures to faculty
  • Unless permission is granted by the faculty, no student will be permitted to remain in the RRC program if:
    • He or she received a Low Pass in three semester courses (Only Low Pass grades received from more than one instructor in more than one semester course will counted.)
    • He or she has received an F from more than one instructor
    • He or she has received an F and two Low Pass grades in two semesters

Regulations regarding academic probation and dismissal are included in the Student Handbook.

D. Grade Level Certification

In order to complete the program of study, students must complete 125 credits over a minimum period of five years or a maximum period of eight years.

During this time, students are certified as being full-time if they are enrolled in as least ten credits per semester. Students enrolled in at least six credits are considered half time.

A full-time student must have successfully completed at least twenty credits since the prior loan was certified. A half-time student must have successfully completed at least twelve credits since the prior loan was certified.

E. Federal Refund Policy

In order to comply with current federal regulations governing the administration of Title IV financial aid, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College has instituted a refund policy for all students who are recipients of Federal Title IV financial assistance but are not included In the Pro Rata Refund provisions. This aid includes Federal Direct Loans. This refund policy extends to those who officially withdraw prior to the ninth week of class.

Refunds as a result of official withdrawal will be made according to the schedule listed below. In addition, activity, library and medical fees are not refundable. There will be no refund for unauthorized withdrawals.

The school must refund:

  • 100% of tuition charges if the student withdraws on or before one week preceding the first day of classes
  • at least 90% of tuition charges if the student withdraws within 10% of the enrollment time-period
  • at least 50% of tuition charges if the student withdraws between the first 10% and 25% of the enrollment time-period
  • at least 25% of tuition if the student withdraws between the end of the first 25% and the end of the first 50% of the enrollment time-period

F. Refund Distribution Policy

Refunds will be returned to the Department of Education within 45 days of the student’s withdrawal. The Higher Education Act and federal regulations specify the order in which unearned funds must be returned to the Title IV programs. The refunds will be distributed in the following order, to ensure the returned funds are applied to eliminate outstanding balances on loans and grants. Please note that after 60% of the semester has been completed, the student has earned 100% of the loan fund received for that period. If less than 60% of the semester has been completed, the amount of loan retained by the student is prorated.

  • Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans
  • Grad PLUS Loans

G. Leave of Absence/Withdrawal Policy

A student on leave of absence approved by the RRC faculty is subject to all of the rules listed in the RRC Student Handbook sections on leave of absence. As leave of absence, for Federal Direct Loan purposes, many not exceed 180 days in a 12-month period.

Only for the purposes of the Federal Direct Loan program, a student on leave of absence is considered to have withdrawn from the RRC program. This means that the student must complete the federally-mandated exit interview and counseling process regarding rights and responsibilities vis-a-vis loans. The loans go into the grace period/repayment as specified by the terms of those loans.

H. Code of Conduct Regarding Loans

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College prohibits a conflict of interest of an agent of the College with respect to student loans. All agents will be asked annually to complete a questionnaire regarding any possible conflicts.

Prohibited behavior includes:

  • refusing or delaying loan certification
  • receiving or accepting offers of funds for private loans

I. Cohort Default Rate

RRC has always had an extremely low default rate for repayment of student loans. We remain in contact with graduates regarding potential defaults either directly or with the cooperation of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association. When in contact with someone potentially entering default, we make clear that not only will default affect that individual and his/her credit rating, but also current and future students might be affected because the school’s ability to participate in the loan program would be affected.

As the number of years used in the calculation of cohort default rates increases, there is always the possibility that our rate could increase. However, with our rate at or close to zero over many years, it is less likely that we will suffer an adverse outcome.

V. Repayment and Debt Management

You, the borrower, are responsible for paying all loan principal and interest according to a repayment plan. There are a number of options for such a plan. You must arrange for one with your Servicer. If you are unable to pay, you must contact your service nevertheless, to make alternative arrangements. Failure to make payments when they are due or to make alternative arrangements may result in the following:

  • your entire loan balance (principal and interest) can be immediately due and payable
  • you lose your deferment options
  • you will not be eligible for additional federal student aid
  • your delinquent account may be referred to a collection agency. This may damage your credit rating for up to seven years. It can result in your having to pay additional interest charges, late fees, collection costs and possibly court costs and attorney’s fees (if legal action is instituted against you). These costs add up and extend the time it will take to pay off your student loan. In addition, you may find it very difficult to be eligible for other types of credit, such as credit cards, car loans or mortgages. Because many landlords do credit checks, it may be hard to rent an apartment. Some employers use your credit rating to determine if you are a responsible individual.
  • your federal income tax refunds (and in some states, your state income tax refunds) may be withheld and applied toward your loan repayment
  • your employer, at the request of the loan holder, may withhold (garnish) part of your wages
  • you may be unable to obtain a professional license in some states.

In addition, your failure to meet your obligation may jeopardize RRC’s participation in the federal loan program and our students’ ability to benefit from this loan program.

VI. Contact Information for the FSA Student Loans Ombudsman’s Office

Having problems with your loans? Your first resource is the Financial Aid Office at the school you attended. Next would be the servicer who is servicing your loan. After you have exhausted these resources if you are still unable to resolve your situation, the Department of Education, Office of Student Financial Assistance has an Ombudsman who works informally with student borrowers to resolve loan disputes and problems. Please use the following information to contact the FSA Student Loan Ombudsman Group.

Reconstructionist Rabbinical College Student Lending Code of Conduct

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College is committed to providing students and their families with the best information and processing alternatives available regarding student borrowing. In support of this and in an effort to rule out any perceived or actual conflict of interest between RRC officers, employees or agents and education loan lenders, RRC has adopted the following:

RRC does not participate in any revenue-sharing arrangements with any lender.

RRC does not permit any officer, employee or agent of the school who is employed in the financial aid office or is otherwise involved in the administration of education loans to accept any gifts of greater than a nominal value from any lender, guarantor or servicer.

RRC does not permit any officer, employee or agent of the school who is employed in the financial aid office or is otherwise involved in the administration of education loans to accept any fee, payment or other financial benefit (including a stock purchase option) from a lender or affiliate of a lender as compensation for any type of consulting arrangement of contract to provide services to a lender on or behalf of a lender relating to education loans.

RRC does not permit any officer, employee or agent of the school who is employed in the financial aid office or is otherwise involved in the administration of education loans to accept anything of value from a lender, guarantor, or group of lenders and/or guarantors in exchange for service on an advisory board, commission or other group established by such a lender, guarantor group of lenders and/or guarantors. RRC does allow for the reasonable reimbursement of expenses associated with participation in such boards, commissions or groups by lenders, guarantors, or group of lenders and/or guarantors.

RRC does not assign a lender to any first-time borrower through financial aid packaging or any other means.

RRC recognizes that a borrower has the right to choose any lender from which to borrow to finance his/her education. RRC will not refuse to certify or otherwise deny or delay certification of a loan based on the borrower’s selection of a lender and /or guarantor.

RRC will not request or accept any offer of funds to be used for private education loans to students from any lender in exchange for providing the lender with a specified number or volume of Title IV loans, or a preferred lender arrangement for Title IV loans.

RRC will not request or accept any assistance with call centers of financial aid office staffing.

Track your federal loans using the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) Student Access Website

What is the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS)?

NSLDS is the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED’s) central database for student aid records. NSLDS provides a centralized integrated view of your federal Title IV education loans and grants, tracking from when they’re approved through when you pay off your loans.

What is the NSLDS Student Access Web site?

The NSLDS Student Access Web site was designed for student and parent borrowers to track and manage their federal student loans and /or grants. The site displays information on your loan and/or grant amounts, outstanding balances, loan status, and loan amounts you received. Both student and parent borrowers can use it.

What is the Web site’s address?

It is https://nslds.ed.gov. You can use it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Sometimes database maintenance occurs during weekends or late-night hours; scheduled maintenance hours are posted ahead of time.

How do I access the NSLDS Student Access Web site?

To access the Web site, you key in:

  • your Social Security Number (SSN)
  • first two letters of your last name,
  • your date of birth, and
  • your Department of Education-provided user name and password that you use to access the  other Federal Aid Websites.

What if I enter my identifiers, but no data or wrong data appear?

Check to be sure you entered all your personal information correctly. If so, and you still have problems, call the Federal Student Information Center at 1.800.4.FED.AID.

How secure is the NSLDS Student Access website? Very. The unique combination of SSN, user name and password, and other personal information needed to access the website makes it as secure as using an automatic tell machine (ATM).