Program DescriptionDirect Stafford Loans, from the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program, are low-interest 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. Eligible students borrow directly from the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) at participating schools.
Stafford Loans are available for undergraduate and graduate students and come from Direct Stafford Loans made by the U.S. Department of Education. You will repay a Federal Direct Stafford Loan to the U.S. Department of Education.
Direct Stafford Loans include the following types of loans:
A subsidized loan is awarded on the basis of financial need, as determined by the information you submit on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you are eligible for a subsidized Stafford loan you will not be charged interest while you are in school on an at least half-time basis, during a grace period of up to six months after you are no longer enrolled on at least a "half-time" basis, or during certain defined deferment periods. The Federal government pays (subsidizes) the interest during these periods.
An unsubsidized loan is not awarded on the basis of need. But you still must apply using the FAFSA. For unsubsidized loans, you will be charged interest from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid off in full. However, you can choose to defer payment of interest while you are in school and during any grace or deferment period. However, if you allow interest to accrue (accumulate) during these periods, it will be capitalized. This means that interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan, and additional interest will be based on that higher amount.
General Program RequirementsTo qualify for this program, you must be enrolled in a postsecondary educational program leading to a postsecondary degree or certificate. There are other requirements. For more information, read The Student Guide online at http://studentaid.ed.gov/students/publications/student_guide/index.html.
Loan TermsMaximum Loan Amount: up to $20,500 annually (depending on your grade level, your status as a dependent or independent student, your status as an undergraduate or a graduate student, and your total cost of attendance).
Interest Rate: The interest rate is variable (adjusted annually on July 1st) but does not exceed 8.25 percent. You'll be notified any time the variable rate changes. For the current Stafford Loan interest rate, go to http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/studentloans.jsp?tab=funding.
Maximum Loan Length: 30 years, depending on amount borrowed and repayment plan chosen. There are a number of repayment plans offered through the Direct programs. Read the Repaying Your Student Loan online at http://www.studentaid.ed.gov/students/publications/repaying_loans/index.html for more information about repayment.
Frequency of Payments: monthly or quarterly. After you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment, you have a six-month grace period before you begin repayment.
Prepayment Penalties: none
Fees: You'll pay a fee of up to four percent of the loan, deducted proportionately from each loan disbursement. Because of this deduction, you'll receive slightly less than the amount you're borrowing.
Your Next StepsThe following information will lead you to the next steps to apply for this benefit.
Application ProcessTo apply for Direct Stafford Loans, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can apply online using FAFSA on the Web at www.fafsa.ed.gov/ (the faster and easier way), or you can get a paper FAFSA from your high school, local library, postsecondary school, or by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). TTY users for the hearing impaired can call 1-847-688-2567.
If you applied for Federal student aid for the previous school year, you can probably file a Renewal FAFSA for the next year. By using a Renewal FAFSA, you will only have to update any information that has changed and fill in a few new answers.
Program Contact Information
You may complete the FAFSA online, through this website: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov