Stafford Loans are fixed-rate student loans available to full or half-time students. To simplify the process, you sign a single Master Promissory Note along with your first loan application. You have to provide two personal references as part of the application. Using a relative or friend's name on the application does not make them responsible for paying if you default.
The Master Note
The Master Promissory Note makes it easier for you to take out more loans. Even if you switch schools, you don't have to reapply. As long as you stick with the same lender, the company just adds new loans to whatever is already on the MPN. You can continue doing this for up to 10 years after you sign the MPN. If you switch lenders during this period, your new lender will require a new note and you'll have to list your references over again.
College life involves change: different off-campus addresses, travel during spring break or summer, sometimes switching schools or taking internships. Personal references are necessary in case the school loses track of you during the MPN's 10-year lifespan or after you graduate. If you disappear, the school has the names of two people who can provide your contact information.
When you fill out the MPN, you have to give the names, addresses and phone numbers of your references. You don't have to pick a family member, but school officials prefer one of the references be a parent or guardian. The first and second references must live at separate addresses. Schools will electronically verify all your information before they approve the release of any Stafford funding. If you don't have the address or phone number of someone you'd like to use, you'll have to name someone else.
Exit Interview References
When you graduate, you must complete a loan-counseling exit interview. Without the interview, the school may refuse to issue your diploma or your transcripts or return any student-account refunds. As part of the exit interview, you fill out a certificate that states the size of your total Stafford Loan, the interest and estimated monthly payment for your debt and the name, address and phone number of your employer, if you've landed a job. You must also give contact information for three references, one of whom should be your nearest relative.
- Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images