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There are two types of Federal Stafford Loans available: subsidized and unsubsidized. Eligibility for subsidized Federal Stafford Loans is based on financial need, and the federal government pays the interest on your behalf while you are enrolled at least half time, during your grace period, and authorized deferment periods. Eligibility for unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans is not based on financial need, but you are responsible for paying interest at all times. You may pay this interest while in school, or you can allow it to accrue and capitalize and it will be added to your principal balance to be paid off with the rest of your loan when you stop attending on at least a half-time basis.
* Before July 1, 2010, Stafford, PLUS, and Consolidation Loans were also made by private lenders under the Federal Family Education Loan Program.
To be eligible, you must:
How to Apply
The application processes for both the subsidized and unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans are the same. Complete the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In order to be eligible for the unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan, you must first apply for the subsidized loan. Check with your college’s financial aid office to determine if any additional forms are needed. The financial aid administrator at your college determines your eligibility for both loan types.
Once determined eligible, your school will submit your student loan information to ED. Before loan funds can be disbursed to the school on your behalf, you must complete and sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN). An MPN is a legally-binding document on which you promise to repay the funds disbursed, plus interest. Borrowers with previously-signed MPNs for loans made through the Federal Family Education Loan Program will need to sign a new MPN if they choose to borrow through the Direct Loan Program.
Eligibility Formulas - Subsidized Stafford Loan
Eligibility Formulas - Unsubsidized Stafford Loan
If you have limited or no subsidized Federal Stafford Loan eligibility, the financial aid administrator can determine if you are eligible for an unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan.
A chart, which conveniently outlines Federal Director Loan limits, interest rates and applicable fees in one document (for loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011), is available here at College Zone. Specific details regarding each of these topics are provided in the following sections.
Current Interest Rates for Federal Stafford Loans
The interest rate on unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans for undergraduate students, as well as subsidized and unsubsidized loans for graduate students, is fixed at 6.8%.
The interest rate on subsidized Federal Stafford Loans for undergraduate students is being gradually reduced over a period of four years, as shown below:
Loans disbursed prior to June 30, 2006 (including loans made through private lenders via the Federal Family Education Loan Program) have a variable interest rate adjusted annually on July 1, with a maximum of 8.25 %. The subsidized and unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan variable interest rate for the period July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011 is 1.87% for loans during in-school, grace and deferment periods, and 2.47% for loans in repayment.
Federal Stafford Loan Limits
Maximum annual limits for undergraduate and graduate students are monitored by the college based on federal regulations. Below is the loan limits chart for loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2008. Aggregate limits include Federal Direct Loans and loans made through the Federal Family Education Loan Program.
A federally mandated loan fee of one percent is charged on loan proceeds prior to disbursement.
Loans are generally disbursed in at least two installments, but qualifying colleges may make single disbursements for single-term (one semester, one trimester, one quarter or 4 months) loans. Check with the financial aid office at your college to learn how your loan(s) will be disbursed.
Loan proceeds are electronically transmitted to the institution.
You must start repaying both principal and interest on your subsidized Stafford loan six months after graduation, or after you drop below half-time enrollment. If you have an unsubsidized Stafford loan, you will be responsible for paying the interest on your loan from the day it is disbursed (there are options for paying the interest). Like a subsidized loan, repayment of principal on an unsubsidized loan begins six months after graduation or after you drop below half-time enrollment.
Most student loan payments are set up on a standard repayment plan with monthly payments that remain the same throughout the repayment period. However, there are other plans available that may make your payments more manageable.
Deferment, forbearance and forgiveness (cancellation) options are available for both types of Federal Stafford Loans. Both principal and interest will be deferred on subsidized loans, while unsubsidized borrowers can defer only the principal portion of payments. Payment of interest on an unsubsidized loan during a deferment is your responsibility. The interest can either be paid on a monthly or quarterly basis, or it can be added into the principal balance of the loan at the time regular payments resume after expiration of the deferment. Contact your loan holder (Direct Loan Servicing Center for Federal Direct Loans, or your lender for loans made through the Federal Family Education Loan Program) to obtain the forms needed to apply for federal deferment, forbearance and loan forgiveness programs.
The State of Illinois also offers help with loan repayment for Illinois residents who qualify based on certain eligibility requirements. Further details are provided in the Loan Repayment/Forgiveness section of the Student Zone.
© 2003-2012 Illinois Student Assistance Commission