Unlike, grants, scholarships, and work-study, loans are a form of aid that you become legally obligated to repay. Montana State University (MSU) encourages you to make informed decisions when borrowing. Plan and prepare and borrow only what you need to be successful in your education. Fully read and understand all terms and conditions before finalizing a loan.

Federal Loans

Federal loans are awarded based on the results of your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), your admission to an eligible degree granting program, anticipated enrollment level, and current repayment status if you have outstanding student loan debt.

Follow these simple steps to receive federal loans:

1. Submit your completed FAFSA
2. Be admitted to a degree-seeking program
3. Accept your Award Letter in My Info
4. Complete Direct Loan Entrance Counseling & sign your Master Promissory Note
5. Register for at least 6 credits each semester
6. Confirm your Bill
7. To continue receiving financial aid you must also maintain Satisfactory Academic

For more details, including interest rates and loan fees, see:

Exit Counseling

The federal government requires that you complete student loan Exit Counseling before you graduate or stop attending at least half-time (less than 6 credits).  If you would like to schedule a personal appointment regarding Exit Counseling, please contact the Office of Financial Education.

  • Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans:

Exit Counseling can be completed online in your National Student Loan Data System account at NSLDS.ed.gov.  You will need your Social Security Number and FSA ID.  

    • Select the Exit Counseling link in the middle of the page  

    • Select Go, then Log In with your information

    • Select Montana State University as your school, and click Submit

    • When you are done you will receive confirmation that your Exit Counseling is complete

  • Federal Perkins and Nursing Loans:

If you had a Perkins Loan and/or Nursing Loan, a hold will be put on your transcripts until you complete Perkins/Nursing Exit Counseling.  If you have any questions, please contact the Perkins and Nursing Loan Service Center, located in Montana Hall, at 406-994-2702.

Repaying your Loans

After you graduate, leave school, or drop below 6 credits, you have a grace period before you must begin repayment of your loans.  Go to studentaid.gov for information on Managing Repayment. A record of all of the federal aid you have received can be found in your National Student Loan Data System account at NSLDS.ed.gov.

Federal Cohort Default Rate

Federal student loans must be repaid with interest. Failure to repay your loan(s) can result in default. The default rate is the percentage of all outstanding loans that have been written off after a prolonged period of missed payments. MSU’s most recent official three-year rates are*: 

Fiscal Year 2020              0.0%

Fiscal Year 2019              1.2%

* Note that these recent rates come at a time when students loans were in repayment pause due to the Covid 19 pandemic flexibility. Payments have resumed but it will take a couple years for true numbers to be reflected. Montana State University Bozeman averages less than 5% traditionally over the last ten years. National averages and comparisons can be reviewed at https://studentaid.gov/data-center/student/default.

For levels of student borrowing, refer to the common data set (https://www.montana.edu/opa/common-data-set/index.html). If you would like more detail on these rates, please contact the financial aid office.