Skip to main content
  • Home
  • Loans
  • Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans

Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans

Federal Direct Loans are available to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.

Borrower:   Student

How to Apply:  Complete the  The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Enrollment Requirements:   Students must be enrolled at least half-time in federal aid-eligible courses.

Additional Requirements:  

Funds cannot be disbursed to the student's account until all requirements are complete.  If a student is offered a Federal Direct Loan as part of their financial aid offer, they must:

  1. Accept the loan.
  2. Log into studentloans.gov with their FSA ID.
  3. Click on "Entrance Counseling."
  4. Click on the "Start" button to the right of "Entrance Counseling (Required)" and complete the counseling process.
  5. Once counseling is submitted, on the top right of the page click where it says "Hi, <<your name>>" to return to your home page.
  6. Click on "Complete Loan Agreement (Master Promissory Note).
  7. Once in the "Loan Agreement" section of the website, students must complete the MPN for Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans.

Quick Facts:


Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. What is the difference between a "subsidized" and an "unsubsidized" loan?
  2. How much can I borrow each year?
  3. What is half-time enrollment to be eligible for federal loans?
  4. What is the interest rate?
  5. Am I charged any additional fees when I borrow a Federal Direct Loan?
  6. Is there a time limit on how long I can receive loans?
  7. Do I need to apply for federal loans through a bank?
  8. Who should I contact about the details of my loans?
  9. Where can I get additional information?
What Is the Difference Between a "Subsidized" and an "Unsubsidized" Loan?
Subsidized Loan Unsubsidized Loan
Only undergraduate students may be eligible. Both undergraduate and graduate/professional students may be eligible.
Student must demonstrate financial need. Financial need is not necessary.
Interest paid by the federal government as long as the student is enrolled at least half-time.* Interest begins to accrue as soon as the loan is disbursed. It must either be paid during in-school periods or deferred. This is called "capitalization" because the interest is added to the principal (loan amount borrowed). Then interest accrues on this new, increased principal amount.

*For subsidized loans borrowed on or after July 1, 2013, there is a limit on the maximum period of time (measured in academic years) that students can receive Direct Subsidized Loans and how long the government will pay the interest.  Students may not receive these loans for more than 150% of the published length of their program.  Example:  If a student is enrolled in a four-year bachelor's degree program, the maximum period they can receive subsidized loans is six years (4 x 1.5 = 6).  In addition, if students continue to be enrolled in any undergraduate programs after reaching the 150% limit, the federal government will no longer pay the interest on any subsidized loan debt.  Additional information available View additional information on subsidized and unsubsidized loans.

Return to Frequently Asked Questions Menu
How Much Can I Borrow Each Year?
  • The maximum amount students can borrow each year varies depending on grade level and dependency status as determined by the The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) .
  • Annual amounts encompass the fall, spring, and summer semesters for the aid year.   Note: if a student borrows their maximum annual amount during fall and spring, they would not have federal loan eligibility remaining for summer (if they choose to enroll at least half-time during the summer semester).
  • If students are approaching or have met their aggregate limit, they may not be eligible for the amounts below.  See "Is there a time limit on how long I can receive loans?" for more.
  How Much Can I Borrow Each Year

**Loan eligibility for non-degree students is limited to a single consecutive 12-month period for students in preparatory coursework (for a degree-seeking program).  This limitation does not apply to those seeking teacher certification/recertification.  Those seeking teacher certification/recertification are considered undergraduate for aid purposes.  Students will be monitored throughout the enrollment period to ensure they remain eligible.

Note: Actual awarded loan amounts are based on financial need, cost of attendance, eligibility, and other applicable limitations.

Return to Frequently Asked Questions Menu
What Is Half-Time Enrollment to Be Eligible for Federal Loans?
Students must be enrolled at least half-time in federal aid-eligible courses for disbursement.  Definitions of half-time enrollment based on level can be found  View definitions of half-time enrollment based on level.

Return to Frequently Asked Questions Menu 
What Is the Interest Rate?

Interest rates on Federal Direct Loans are fixed, meaning the interest rate on the amount borrowed for an academic year will remain the same for the life of the loan.

Federal loan borrowers can monitor l oan debt, c heck interest rates, and find their loan servicer by logging into the National Student Loan Data System with their Federal Student Aid ID ( FSA ID).

Additional information on interest rates, fees, and calculation can be found at studentaid.ed.gov.

Return to Frequently Asked Questions Menu 

Am I Charged Any Additional Fees When I Borrow a Federal Direct Loan?
An origination fee is deducted from each disbursement and retained by the federal government, which is why the awarded loan amount and disbursed amount will differ.

Information on fees can be found at studentaid.ed.gov.

Return to Frequently Asked Questions Menu 
Is There a Time Limit on How Long I Can Receive Loans?
There are three types of loan limits for the time you are in school.

1.  Satisfactory Academic Progress
Students m ust mai ntain a certain level of academic progress in order to maintain  e l igibility for aid—i ncluding student loans, parent loans, F ederal W ork S tudy, scholarships,  and grants.  A t the end of spring semester the academic record of each student will be reviewed to determine if the student is meeting the minimum academic progre ss standards.

These standards include:Okay!  I

  • A minimum overall grade point average;
  • Completion of a minimum percentage of all attempted credit hours;
  • A maximum amount of attempted hours based on the student’s degree objective  (measured at the end of each semester).

Students not meeting academic progress standards will be suspended from aid eligibility immediately.  This includes federal loans.  More details on satisfactory academic progress and options to appeal can be found here.

2.  Aggregate Loan Limit
Aggregate loan limit refers to the maximum amount of federal loans a student may borrow during particular levels of their education.

Is there a time limit on how long I can receive loans
    
3.  150% Subsidized Loan Limit

For subsidized loans borrowed on or after July 1, 2013, there is a limit on the maximum period of time (measured in academic years) that students can receive Direct Subsidized Loans and how long the government will pay the interest. 

Students may not receive these loans for more than 150% of the published length of their program.  Example:  If a student is enrolled in a four-year bachelor's degree program, the maximum period they can receive subsidized loans is six years (4 x 1.5 = 6). 

In addition, if students continue to be enrolled in any undergraduate programs after reaching the 150% limit, the federal government will no longer pay the interest on any subsidized loan debt.  Additional information available View additional information on the 150% Subsidized Loan Limit.


Return to Frequently Asked Questions Menu
Do I Need to Apply for Federal Loans Through a Bank?

No.  When applicable, federal loans are offered after  the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is received by the institution and reviewed for aid eligibility.  However, some students who need additional funding for educational expenses also apply for private loans from non-federal lenders.

Return to Frequently Asked Questions Menu

Who Should I Contact about the Details of My Loans?

Find information about federal direct loan account balances, contact information, repayment, billing, and payment options for your loan servicer at nslds.ed.gov.

Return to Frequently Asked Questions Menu

Where Can I Get Additional Information?

You can view additional information regarding loans at studentaid.ed.gov.

Return to Frequently Asked Questions Menu