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Federal Family Educational Loan Program

Direct Stafford Loans

Students borrow Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans in their name only. No cosigner is required. Credit history is not a factor, no credit check is done to qualify for these loans. Although if a student has defaulted on a student loan before, they cannot borrow again until arrangements have been made to resolve default and default loans have been taken care of. Other credit history items do not affect approval of these loans. Students with bankruptcy history may have extra steps required before loan approval.

Direct Stafford Loan Limits (Both Subsidized &Unsubsidized Combined)

Dependent Undergraduates

  • Freshmen may borrow up to $5,500 per year. Up to $3,500 may be subsidized loan.
  • Sophomores may borrow up to $6,500 per year. Up to $4,500 may be subsidized loan.
  • Juniors and seniors may borrow up to $7,500 per year. Up to $5,500 may be subsidized loan.
  • The maximum that all dependent undergraduates may borrow for all years is $31,000.

Independent Undergraduates

  • May borrow the same limits as Dependent Undergraduates, but may qualify to borrow additional Unsubsidized Stafford Loans as well up to the limits shown below (if they fit within the estimated Cost of Attendance).
  • Freshmen and sophomores may borrow up to an additional $6,000 per year of Unsubsidized Loan.
  • Juniors and seniors may borrow up to an additional $7,000 per year of Unsubsidized Loan.
  • The maximum that all independent undergraduates may borrow for all years is $57,500. (Of which only $23,000 can be in Subsidized Stafford Loans.)


  • Graduates may borrow up to $20,500 in unsubsidized loan funds.
  • The maximum that all graduates may borrow for all years is $138,500 (not to exceed $65,500 in subsidized)

Limitation On Direct Subsidized Loan Eligibility

Federal regulations are effective for students who receive their first Direct Loan on or after July 1, 2013.  The regulations limit the time frame for borrowing Direct Subsidized Loans to 150 percent of the published program length. This is a significant change for students who change programs or transfer from a two-year program to a four-year program or for those who transfer from a four-year program to a two-year program. Read more to get detailed information by the U.S. Department of Education on the 150 percent rule.

Direct Parent PLUS Loans

Parents can borrow money on behalf of their dependent students through the Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) program. These loans are in the parent’s name, are charged a higher interest rate than Stafford student loans, require a check on the parents credit history and can be deferred while a student is in school by request after the loan is disbursed. Often times, they are still a much better borrowing opportunity than most other consumer loans.

If a dependent student's parent applies for and is denied a PLUS Loan due to credit reasons, the student may qualify for additional Stafford student loans in their name. Contact the Office of Student Financial Services loan counselor if your parents are denied a PLUS Loan to see what loan borrowing options exist for you.

Direct Graduate Plus Loans

Graduate students who have been awarded a Direct Graduate Plus Loan may apply for a Graduate Plus Loan. Graduate Plus Loans are designed to help students meet their full cost of attendance. This loan is similar to the Parent Plus Loan except the borrower is the student instead of the parent. The student is responsible for the repayment of the loan.

Direct PLUS Loan Limits

The maximum Direct Plus loan you may receive for the school year is shown on your financial aid award letter. Please check for that amount. The parent or graduate borrower may borrow less than the maximum in order to keep the loan debt at a minimum. The maximum amount is equal to the student’s cost of attendance minus any other financial aid received. For example, if the cost of attendance is $8,000 and the student receives $5,000 in other financial aid, the Plus loan would be awarded at $3,000. The Office of Student Financial Services calculates cost of attendance.