How to Apply for a Perkins Loan. Federal Perkins loans are available to students who require help to finance their college expenses. Over 1,800 post-secondary institutions in the United States participate in the Perkins program. Financial need determines the recipients of Perkins loans; read on to learn more about applying for and receiving a Federal Perkins loan.

Know the eligibility requirements to receive a Perkins loan. Low-interest loans are available to both graduate and undergraduate students. Students must have not borrowed more than a particular threshold on other loans; they must not be participants in a medical internship; and they may not be in default on another student loan. Incarcerated students are not eligible for the program.

Meet other requirements for the Perkins loan. Enroll at least half time at a participating post-secondary institution, demonstrate U.S. citizenship, permanent residency or eligible non-citizen status, achieve satisfactory academic progress and demonstrate satisfactory completion of Selective Service requirements.

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Demonstrate financial need to receive a Perkins loan. There is no one benchmark for financial need; individual post-secondary institutions set this definition. Fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and determine the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The college will calculate financial need. Deliver your completed application to the college of your choice, and let them advise you how to proceed.

Repay your Federal Perkins loan. Students have a six- to nine-month grace period after falling below half-time enrollment or graduation from college before they must begin repaying their Perkins loan. Active military personnel have a different repayment schedule; see the official Perkins website (see resources below) for specifics. Students must work with Perkins officials to establish a repayment plan. They can choose bi-monthly, monthly or quarterly options.

Consider one of the following career choices after college: the military, teaching or public service. Many jobs in these fields are eligible for Perkins loan cancellation; see the official Perkins loan website (see resources below) for applicable occupations.

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