Master Promissory Note: What You Need To Know

By: Katie Wornek, UHEAA

If you have one or more federal student loans, a single document called the Master Promissory Note (MPN) outlines the terms and conditions of your loan(s). Your college’s financial aid office will prepare your MPN and then present it to you (usually electronically) to review, complete, and sign. If you are intimidated by the length (the current MPN from the Department of Education is 14 pages) and language of your MPN, you are not alone. Understanding the information in your MPN is critical to responsibly managing your federal student loans, so we have broken this document down into a section-by-section, easy tutorial. Follow along with each section by viewing the Department of Education’s sample MPN for federal direct student loans here. You should still read every line of your MPN before signing. If you have questions about your MPN, it is best to contact the financial aid office at your college.


Initial Disclaimers and Notices


The first sentence of the MPN calls attention to the consequences of intentionally falsifying information on this document. Be honest and report information to the best of your knowledge when completing this document or you could face fines or imprisonment.

Next, the MPN directs you to page 14, where you can find a handy instruction guide. Think of page 14 as your “frequently asked questions” glossary.


Borrower Information


This section contains your personal information, which includes:

  • Name
  • Permanent address and (if different) mailing address
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of birth
  • Driver’s license information (if applicable)
  • Best email address and phone number for communication

You need to fill in any blank fields in this section (some of this information in this section may have been completed for you).


Reference Information


You must list the name and contact information of a parent or guardian, plus the name and contact information of another person who has known you for at least three years. Your loan servicer will contact these individuals if they cannot get in contact with you directly, so it is best to notify these individuals now that you need to list them as a reference.


School information


Your college’s financial aid office completes this section – you do not need to provide any information in these fields.


Borrower’s Request, Certifications, Authorizations, and Understandings


In this section, you are promising to complete the MPN honestly and use your federal student loans for qualified educational expenses (a list of these can be found in the “Important Notices” section of your MPN). This section asks you to certify that you are in good standing on any of your previous federal student loans. It also explains the responsibilities and rights the Department of Education and your college have with regard to your federal student loan money.


Promise to Pay


You are agreeing to repay your loans (with interest) in this section and you are acknowledging that you will read and understand your MPN before completing it.


MPN Terms and Conditions and Important Notices


The last two sections of your MPN account for the majority of the document. Please take the time to read the terms and conditions and important notices outlined in your MPN. These sections contain important information, including:

  • An explanation of the laws governing your MPN, including your rights under those laws
  • A description of the type of loan you are borrowing, including amounts, limits, interest, and fees
  • Details about the timeframe for borrowing student loans
  • Instructions for cancelling your loan if you no longer need it
  • Information about how student loans can influence your credit
  • A list of the educational expenses you are allowed to pay for with your loan money
  • A summary of the information you are responsible for reporting
  • More information about repayment and the consequences of failing to repay
  • Forgiveness and discharge information