Direct Loans

Direct Loans are low-interest loans for students and parents to help pay for the cost of a student’s education after high school. The lender is the U.S. Department of Education. In order to be awarded a Direct Loan, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each academic year. The FAFSA can be completed by going to www.fafsa.gov.

The Direct Loan Program offers the following types of loans:

Federal Direct Subsidized Loan
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan
Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan
Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan

Direct Loan Eligibility Chart

The chart below shows the annual and aggregate loan limits for a Federal Direct loan. Annual loan limits are based on grade level. Aggregate loan limits are the lifetime maximum amounts a borrower is eligible to borrow for their academic career. A dependent undergraduate student whose parent is denied a Direct Parent PLUS loan becomes eligible for independent undergraduate student loan limits for that academic year.

Dependent Undergraduate Student (except students whose parents are unable to obtain a PLUS loan) Independent Undergraduate Student (and dependent students whose parents are unable to obtain a PLUS loan)
Freshmen $5,500 (no more than $3,500 may be in Subsidized loans) $9,500 (no more than $3,500 may be in Subsidized loans)
Sophomores $6,500 (no more than $4,500 may be in Subsidized loans) $10,500 (no more than $4,500 may be in Subsidized loans)
Juniors and Seniors $7,500 (no more than $5500 may be in Subsidized loans) $12,500 (no more than $5,500 may be in Subsidized loans)
Aggregate Undergraduate Loan Limits $31,000 (no more than $23000 may be in Subsidized loans) $57,500 (no more than $23,000 may be in Subsidized loans)
Graduate Student Annual Unsubsidized Loan Maximum $20,500
Graduate Student Aggregate Loan Limits $138,500 (no more than $65,500 may be in subsidized loans). This limit includes Federal Loans received for undergraduate study.

All borrowers are strongly encouraged to review their federal loan indebtedness each school year. The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is the U.S. Department of Education’s central database for federal student aid. NSLDS provides information such as the type(s) of loans you have taken out, outstanding principal and interest amounts, the total amount of all your loans, and who your loan servicer is. You will need your FSA ID to sign in to NSLDS to review your financial aid history. NSLDS only has information about your federal student loans—private loans are not included.

For an estimate of your monthly loan payments after you graduate, take a look at the Department of Education’s repayment estimator.