Loans distributed from the federal government, called Federal Direct Student Loans, generally have more favorable terms and conditions than private education loans received from sources such as a bank or credit union. We recommend that you utilize all Federal Direct Loan eligibility before turning to private loans.
General Eligibility Requirements
- Demonstrate financial need (for most programs)
- Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
- Have a valid Social Security number (with the exception of students from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau)
- Be registered with Selective Service, if you’re a male (you must register between the ages of 18 and 25)
- Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program
- Be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for Direct Loan Program funds
- Maintain satisfactory academic progress in college
- Sign the certification statement on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) stating that:
- You are not in default on a federal student loan and do not owe money on a federal student grant
- You will use federal student aid only for educational purposes
- Show you’re qualified to obtain a college education by:
- Having a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent such as a General Educational Development (GED) certificate;
- Completing a high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state law (or—if state law does not require a homeschooled student to obtain a completion credential—completing a high school education in a homeschool setting that qualifies as an exemption from compulsory attendance requirements under state law); or
- Enrolling in an eligible career pathway program and meeting one of the “ability-to-benefit” alternatives.
Federal Direct Loans
Direct Subsidized Loan
Eligibility for this loan is based on financial need (as determined by information provided on your FAFSA), with the interest paid by the federal government until you graduate, leave school, or fall below half-time enrollment.
Please note: The Budget Control Act of 2011 eliminated subsidized loans for graduate students beginning July 1, 2012. Graduate students will be eligible for the full $20,500 annual amount, but all loans will be completely unsubsidized.
Direct Unsubsidized Loan
Eligibility for this loan is not based on financial need (as determined by information provided on your FAFSA), and interest starts to accrue upon disbursement. You have the option to postpone payment of interest which is then capitalized (added to your principal balance).
Direct Parent or Graduate PLUS Loan
Eligibility for this loan is not based on financial need, but it is also a credit-based loan and a credit check is required. Borrowers who have an adverse credit history may be eligible if you have a creditworthy endorser or cosigner.
Annual Loan Limits
Amounts are per award year and may be limited by cost of attendance.
For Professional Students:
Dependent students completing a bachelor’s degree are eligible, depending on their FAFSA information, to receive:
Freshmen: (0-27 units) — $5,500 (up to $3,500 of which may be subsidized)
Sophomores: (28-59 units) — $6,500 (up to $4,500 of which may be subsidized)
Juniors and Seniors: (60+ units) — $7,500 (up to $5,500 of which may be subsidized)
Federal Parent PLUS: — Up to cost of attendance minus any federal and outside aid
Independent students (or dependent students who were denied Parent PLUS Loan) completing a bachelor’s degree are eligible, depending on their FAFSA information, to receive:
Freshmen: (0-27 units) — $9,500 (up to $3,500 of which may be subsidized)
Sophomores: (28-59 units) — $10,500 (up to $4,500 of which may be subsidized)
Juniors and Seniors: (60+ units) — $12,500 (up to $5,500 of which may be subsidized)
For Graduate Students:
Teaching credential-only students:
Up to $12,500 combination of subsidized and unsubsidized
$5,500 maximum subsidized depending on financial need
Not eligible for the Graduate PLUS Loan
Master’s and doctoral students:
Up to $20,500 unsubsidized
Up to the cost of attendance in PLUS Loan, minus any other aid, scholarship, or loans
Interest and Fees
If you receive a federal student loan (Direct Loan), you will be required to repay that loan with interest. The interest rate for a Direct Loan is fixed, based on the type of loan, either Direct Unsubsidized or Direct PLUS.
Most federal student loans have loan fees that are a percentage of the total loan amount. The loan fee is deducted proportionately from each loan disbursement you receive. This means the money you receive will be less than the amount you actually borrow. You’re responsible for repaying the entire amount you borrowed and not just the amount you received.
Please visit the Federal Student Aid site for more information and to view current interest rates and fees.
For subsidized and unsubsidized loans, repayment begins six months after you graduate, withdraw, or drop below half-time enrollment status. That six-month time frame is called the grace period. If you have previously used your grace period, your payments may begin immediately.
For Parent/Graduate PLUS Loans, the loan(s) will be placed automatically in a six-month post-enrollment deferment, which you can reduce or cancel by contacting your servicers.
Standard repayment is ten years. However, there are many repayment options available to student loan borrowers. If you find yourself in a situation where you are unable to make your student loan payments, there are also deferment and forbearance options available to you.
Please visit the Federal Student Aid site to learn how to best manage your student loans.