Federal Direct Loans

Subsidized and unsubsidized loans are federal student loans for eligible students to help cover the cost of higher education at a four-year college or university, community college, or trade, career, or technical school. The U.S. Department of Education offers eligible students at participating schools Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans.

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Subsidized Vs. Unsubsidized

Here’s a quick overview of Direct Subsidized Loans:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans are available to undergraduate students with financial need.
  • Your school determines the amount you can borrow, and the amount may not exceed your financial need.
  • The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest on a Direct Subsidized Loan

○     while you’re in school at least half-time,
○     for the first six months after you leave school (referred to as a grace period*), and
○     during a period of deferment (a postponement of loan payments).

*Note: If you receive a Direct Subsidized Loan that is first disbursed between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2014, you will be responsible for paying any interest that accrues during your grace period. If you choose not to pay the interest that accrues during your grace period, the interest will be added to your principal balance.

Here’s a quick overview of Direct Unsubsidized Loans:

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students; there is no requirement to demonstrate financial need.
  • Your school determines the amount you can borrow based on your cost of attendance and other financial aid you receive.
  • You are responsible for paying the interest on a Direct Unsubsidized Loan during all periods. 
  • If you choose not to pay the interest while you are in school and during grace periods and deferment orforbearance periods, your interest will accrue (accumulate) and be capitalized (that is, your interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan).

Eligibility

To receive either type of loan, you must be enrolled at least half-time at a school that participates in the Direct Loan Program. Generally, you must also be enrolled in a program that leads to a degree or certificate awarded by the school. Direct Subsidized Loans are available only to undergraduate students who have financial need. Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to both undergraduates and graduate or professional degree students. You are not required to show financial need to receive a Direct Unsubsidized Loan.

Applying for a Loan

To apply for a Direct Loan, you must first complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid(FAFSASM). Your school will use the information from your FAFSA to determine how much student aid you are eligible to receive. Direct Loans are generally included as part of your financial aid package.