Student-Parent Financing

Bowdoin’s need-based financial aid awards do not include student or parent loans.  However, many families elect to use loans to help finance a part of their share of yearly educational costs. When considering your options for financing your education, it is important to become an informed consumer. Understanding the choices available to you will help you pick the program that best meets your family’s needs for the duration of your educational career. 

Building a plan:

Each family is unique. Families pay their share of college cost in several ways, including applying for financial aid, receiving outside scholarships, and determining the educational funds that are available from your family’s current income and savings. Once you have fully explored the resources above, the normal sequence for most families is to then review options that require an extended time to repay (like loans and payment plans). As you build a plan for financing all or part of your share of educational costs, there are many considerations that you need to take into account. For instance, does your family have other children that are in college or will be in the future?  Do your parents expect their income to change in the coming year?  What is the student’s intended occupation after graduation?  Is the amount you need to borrow in line with your expectations for future salaries? Have you carefully considered the amount that you would be able to pay in monthly loan payments?  

Paying for college is generally not a single-year event, but rather one that requires plenty of thought, preparation and a multi-year plan. Once you build your plan, you should reevaluate it at least annually and make necessary adjustments to ensure your plan continues to achieve the desired results.

Understanding your options:

States, federal governments, and private institutions provide educational financing options for students and parents. Selecting a plan that best meets your family’s needs requires extensive research. The goal of this section is to provide a general overview of the different financing options available to students.

Student Financing Options

  • Direct Loan
  • Perkins Loan
  • State Based Financing Options
  • Private Loan (from banks and other financial institutions)

Direct Loans:
All U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens can borrow from the Direct Loan program. Yearly amounts and borrowing terms vary based on the student’s demonstrated financial need.  For more details on the options available, please see the “Links” section below.

Perkins Loans:
Perkins is a need-based revolving loan program sponsored by the federal government and managed by Bowdoin College. Like the Direct Loan program, eligible students must be U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens.  Please see the “Links” section below for more details.

State and Private Student Loans:
Generally, because of the lower interest rates, repayment options, and cancellation benefits, we advise students/parents to explore federal financing options before considering state-supported or private lending opportunities.  However, many states provide attractive lending options for state residents and for students attending school in their state. For more information on options available to you from your home state, you need to contact the agency responsible for administering those programs. In Maine, students can contact the Maine Educational Loan Authority (MELA) for borrowing options and eligibility criteria.    

Parent Financing Options

  • Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)
  • Home Equity Loans
  • State/Private/Other Parent  Loans

The best program for parents interested in financing all/part of their share of educational expenses will vary for each family. We suggest that you review all of the available options before choosing the program that best meets your family’s need for the student’s entire career at Bowdoin. For some, the most important factor will be the interest rates charged, while other families might be more concerned with the opportunity for flexible repayment terms.  We advise that you carefully review the terms of each loan to ensure you understand your repayment responsibilities.

Direct PLUS:
Sponsored by the federal government and available to U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens, this program has a variable interest rate and parents can borrow up to the cost of education minus all sources of financial aid. Flexible repayment terms and other important options are available to qualified borrowers.  For more information, please see the “Links” section below.

Home Equity Loans:
Many families choose to use part of their home equity to help finance educational expenses. For more information on the availability of home equity loans, we recommend that you contact your current mortgage provider or other mortgage providers advertising home equity loans. For IRS tax benefits related to home equity loans, we advise that you contact your tax preparer or refer to specific IRS publications.

State/Private and Other Parent Loans:
Many states provide financing options for state residents and for parents of students attending school in a particular state. For more information on loan options sponsored by states, contact the agency in charge of administering state aid for college in your home state or the state where your child is attending college.  In Maine, families can visit the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) web site.

Bowdoin does not make specific recommendations for student/parent private educational loans. Instead, we encourage you to do an Internet search and find the loan program that offers the terms and conditions that best meet your financing needs.

International Students – Some countries provide loan options to help families finance educational expenses for students attending college in the U.S. For more information, contact the department that is in charge of administering those programs in your country for specific information.  Often, these agencies ask the College to verify the student’s enrollment.  You can send enrollment verification information to the College Registrar or the Student Aid Office.

Completing the application process – Federal Student/Parent Loans:

In order to complete the loan borrowing process at Bowdoin, you will want to familiarize yourself with the steps for applying for student or parent loans. Log into your MyAid Portal and review the information provided to initiate a Federal Direct, Perkins, or Direct PLUS loan. Navigate to the FORMS tab to find loan instructions labeled as 'Federal Student Loan Instructions' or 'Federal Parent Loan Instructions.'  If after reading the instructions you have additional questions, please contact us at or 207-725-3144.

View the Loan Summary Table

“Links” For More Detailed Loan Information:

Additional Sites/Organizations for Educational Financing Information:

Installment Payment Plans:

Bowdoin provides access to two commercial installment payment programs for families who want to pay all or part of their yearly expenses within a 10 to 12 month period. For more information, please visit the Bursar’s Office web site.