Federal Loans

Federal Direct Loans

The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program is a service of the US Department of Education. If you are eligible to borrow through the program, you do so at interest rates that are lower than those of many other student loans and have more favorable deferment, forgiveness, and cancellation options.

Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans

To be eligible for Federal Direct Loans, you must be enrolled at least half time—8 credits per term for fall or spring, 4 credits in summer—in courses that fulfill requirements for your undergraduate, graduate, or premedical program.

To receive Federal Direct Loans, you must complete:

There are two types of Federal Direct Loans:

  • Subsidized Direct Loan: The federal government pays the interest while you are enrolled in school at least half time. These loans are awarded based on financial need and are available to undergraduate and premedical program candidates only.
  • Unsubsidized Direct Loan: You are responsible for the interest from the date of disbursement. You may pay interest quarterly or allow the interest to accrue.

See studentaid.gov for current interest rates and origination fees. 

Maximum Federal Direct Loan Amounts

The US Department of Education sets borrowing limits that vary by your year in school and dependency status (see the chart below). Direct Loan amounts may not exceed your cost of attendance.

If you qualify for a subsidized loan that is less than the annual subsidized loan limit, you may receive an unsubsidized loan to cover the difference between the annual limit and the subsidized loan amount.

The chart below lists the maximum loan amounts for Federal Direct Loans that dependent candidates may borrow each term.

Maximum Loan Amounts for Dependent Candidates

Candidate’s academic level Maximum* subsidized Maximum* combined total (subsidized and unsubsidized)
First-year undergraduate (fewer than 32 credits) $1,750 $2,750
Second-year undergraduate (32 to 64 credits) $2,250 $3,250
Third-year undergraduate or beyond
(64 credits or more)
$2,750 $3,750
Premedical Program candidate $2,750 $2,750

* Per term Dependent candidates whose parents are denied a Parent PLUS Loan may be eligible for additional Unsubsidized Loan funds.

The chart below lists the maximum loan amounts for Federal Direct Loans that independent candidates may borrow each term.

Maximum Loan Amounts for Independent Candidates

Candidate’s academic level Maximum* subsidized Maximum* combined total (subsidized and unsubsidized)
First-year undergraduate
(fewer than 32 credits)
$1,750 $4,750
Second-year undergraduate
(32 to 64 credits)
$2,250 $5,250
Third-year undergraduate or beyond
(64 credits or more)
$2,750 $6,250
Premedical Program candidate $2,750 $6,250
Graduate candidate n/a $10,250

* Per term

Total outstanding debt for Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans

The US Department of Education maintains aggregate limits on your outstanding lifetime Direct Loan debt. The limits are as follows:

  • $31,000 (no more than $23,000 of which can be subsidized) for dependent undergraduates
  • $57,500 (no more than $23,000 of which can be subsidized) for independent undergraduates
  • $138,500 (no more than $65,500 of which can be subsidized) for graduate students

Canceling or reducing Federal Direct Loans

You have the right to cancel or reduce the amount of your Federal Direct Loan. To do so, notify Student Financial Services in writing. If the loan has already been disbursed, you must return the funds to Student Financial Services.

Federal Direct PLUS Loans

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans

The Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Program is a student loan program for graduate candidates. You may apply for an amount up to your cost of attendance less any other financial aid you are receiving.

You must complete a FAFSA and be eligible for Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans before applying for the Graduate PLUS Loan. To apply:

Repayment begins 60 days after the loan is fully disbursed. Repayment can be deferred during periods of at least half-time enrollment

Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loans

The Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan Program is a loan program for parents of dependent candidates. Your parents may apply to borrow an amount up to the cost of attendance, less any other financial aid you are receiving.

Repayment may be deferred while the dependent candidate is enrolled at least half time.

See studentaid.gov for current interest rates and origination fees. 

For your parent to be eligible to apply for a PLUS Loan, you must be:

  • Admitted to an undergraduate program or premedical program
  • Enrolled at least half time (8 credits in the fall or spring term)
  • Classified as dependent by the US Department of Education

If your parent wishes to apply for a PLUS Loan, you must submit a complete financial aid application, including the FAFSA. Your parent must complete a promissory note for the Parent PLUS Loan and inform Student Financial Services when you have done so. See the online Parent PLUS Loan promissory note.

Canceling or Reducing Federal Direct PLUS Loans

You, or your parent if borrowing on your behalf, have the right to cancel or reduce the amount of your Federal Direct PLUS Loan. To do so, you or your parent should notify Student Financial Services in writing. If the loan has already been disbursed, funds must be returned to Student Financial Services.