Federal Direct Stafford Loans
Federal Stafford loans are made through the William D. Ford federal direct loan program and comprise direct-subsidized and direct-unsubsidized loans.
Federal direct-subsidized student loans are need-based. The federal government pays the interest that accrues on the loan while the student is enrolled at least half time and during the six-month grace period. Only undergraduate students are eligible for subsidized loans per federal regulations. While interest does not accrue initially, if the student was a first-time borrower as defined by the Department of Education on July 1, 2013, or therafter, and attends school for longer than 150 percent of the length of the published program, interest will begin to accrue at that time.
Federal direct unsubsidized student loans are not need-based. All students who meet general eligibility requirements may qualify. The student is responsible for all interest that accrues while he or she is enrolled at least half time. Interest begins to accumulate from the date of the first loan disbursement and is billed quarterly. Students may choose to pay the interest that accumulates or have it capitalized. Paying the interest as it accumulates will reduce the amount of interest that must be repaid.
Students must be enrolled in a degree program at least half time to be eligible for student loans. Application for student loans is done by filling out and submitting the FAFSA. Basic eligibility requirements must be met, as determined by the federal government. A 1.073 percent origination fee is deducted from the loan before it is disbursed and paid to the U.S. Department of Education. As a result, while the borrower repays 100 percent of what he or she borrows, plus interest, only 98.927 percent will be received, which can be applied toward the tuition bill. If a student has paid his or her bill in full before the loan disbursement is processed, the loan money will be given as a refund and can be used for other educational expenses, such as books, supplies, travel, or living expenses.
Direct loan servicing provides online access using the FSA ID to access information on existing direct loan(s), including account information, loan balance, change of address capability and account management. Direct loan forms, including the entrance-loan counseling form and master promissory note, are available here as well.
Loan borrowers should be aware that Federal loan(s) will be submitted to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), and will be accessible by guaranty agencies, lenders and institutions determined to be authorized users of the data system.
To apply for federal direct loans, complete the FAFSA, the entrance-loan counseling form and the federal direct-loan master promissory note. The FAFSA needs to be renewed annually.
Effective July 1, 2013, subsidized loan eligibility for new borrowers is limited to the equivalent of six years for students in a bachelor’s program and the equivalent of three years for students in an associate program.
Learn more about the federal direct loan program: