Ask Sawal

Discussion Forum
Notification Icon1
Write Answer Icon
Add Question Icon

How much is a direct stafford loan?

4 Answer(s) Available
Answer # 1 #

Stafford Loans are federal loans made by the government, borrowers receive loans directly from the U.S. Department of Education. Borrowers will repay the U.S. Department of Education when it’s time.

Federal Stafford loans, sometimes called Direct Loans, (and shorthand for subsidized and unsubsidized loans) are a common way to help pay for college. According to the Department of Education, more than 33 million borrowers in the United States have one (or more) of these loans. Today, 92% of all student loans are made by the federal government. The government also uses several “student loan servicers” to handle the customer service and collections of its loans. (Private student loans have different interest rates and repayment terms, but can be another way to help cover any gaps in financing after you pursue scholarships, grants, and federal financial aid).

If you’re looking into Stafford Loans, it’s critical to know one thing – there are two different types of Stafford Loans (again, sometimes called Direct Loans).

To further understand the world of Stafford Loans, it’s best to begin with a basic knowledge of the key terms:

Generally speaking, Stafford Loans are among the easiest to obtain because, unlike private student loans, the government doesn’t assess your credit or ability to repay them (which, for young people who are just entering the world of financial decision making, can be a positive thing). The other side of this coin, though? The government has no knowledge or insight into whether you’ll be able to successfully manage these loans – so make sure to borrow responsibly, taking only what you need to cover your college costs.

Because Stafford Loans are federal loans, they have different eligibility than private student loans (administered through a private lender, like a bank or credit union).

Most students who qualify for aid are eligible for Stafford Loans. To be eligible for a Stafford Loan, a borrower is required to:

For both subsidized and unsubsidized loans (and other financial aid), the borrower’s school determines the amount that can be borrowed based on the cost of attendance and other financial aid a student receives.

Undergrads who take out loans for the 2021-2022 school year will receive a 3.73% interest rate. Graduate students will receive a 5.28% interest rate. These are fixed Stafford loan interest rates that won’t change for the life of the loan.

The key difference between the two types of Federal Stafford Loans, aside from eligibility and loan limits, is how interest is handled.

Federal student loan interest rates reset for new loans on July 1 each year.

(No matter which loan you choose, it’s important to know that interest on Stafford Loans doesn’t work the same way interest does for a credit card or mortgage, because Stafford Loans are daily interest loans. This means interest accumulates each day. For more information about interest capitalization for Stafford Loans, visit

You can check the origination fee for Federal Stafford loans here. Don’t forget to factor this cost in when considering these loans. Origination fees are applied when the funds from your loan are disbursed. This covers the cost of issuing the funds. Typically, an origination fee will cost undergraduates about $150 for every $10,000 borrowed.

This is important because if you apply for $5,000 and need exactly $5,000, you’ll be surprised when you’re falling a little short. It might be smart to ask for a little more (again, estimate $150 for every $10,000 borrowed). This isn’t always the right call, though, as borrowing more has an impact on your repayment. More money borrowed = more interest accrued and higher payments. Can you afford it? Plan to borrow no more than your expected salary upon graduation. Find more tips about planning with a College Planning Calculator.

As mentioned, borrowers who qualify for Subsidized Stafford Loans must demonstrate financial need (which is demonstrated by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA). These loans also have lower borrowing limits than their unsubsidized counterparts: students can borrow up to $5,500 a year, or $23,000 total. (Both loan types have borrowing limits, like many federal loans do. That’s why private student loans are good options for families looking to cover any remaining costs.)

Here’s a breakdown of what undergraduate students can borrow, per year, in subsidized Stafford Loans:

Make sure you’re being mindful of how long you take to complete a degree. You may not receive subsidized Stafford Loans for more than 150% of the published length of your program. This is called the “maximum eligibility period.” If your degree program is a 4-year program, for example, you’ll have six years to borrow this type of loan, even if you take longer than six years to earn your degree. Your school usually posts the length of any programs offered in their catalog, but if you’re unsure, you can call the school to ask.

Borrowers of unsubsidized Stafford Loans do not need to demonstrate financial need, and these loans have higher borrowing limits, (up to $7,500 a year, minus the amount of any subsidized loans for the same time period, and up to $31,000 in the borrower’s lifetime), allowing students to cover more money for direct and indirect costs related to their education.

Here’s a breakdown of what undergraduate students can borrow, per year, in unsubsidized Stafford Loans:

Both undergrads and graduate students can take these loans out, unlike subsidized Stafford Loans, which are only available to undergrads. Graduate students attending graduate or professional school also have higher borrowing limits ($20,500 annual for grad school, $138,500 lifetime, and $40,500 annual for medical school, $224,000 lifetime).

If you reach the maximum amount of borrowed funds over the course of your education, you are not eligible for additional loans. You can, however, repay some of your existing loans, and therefore fall below the aggregate loan limit. At this point, you may be able to borrow again.

If you are a dependent student whose parents are ineligible for a Direct PLUS Loan (federal loans that graduate students and parents of undergraduates can use to help pay for college), sometimes due to adverse credit history (PLUS loans are subject to credit checks), you may be able to receive additional Stafford loans.

Federal student loans make up the majority of student loans today (the federal government holds approximately 92.9% of student loans), and there are specific benefits and protections allotted to a borrower, including a variety of repayment plans.

The standard repayment period for Stafford Loans is 10 years, but you can secure a longer repayment term if you have more than $30,000 in federal student loans. Payments are due after you graduate, leave school, or change your enrollment status to less than half-time. Other popular repayment plans, intended to assist you if you’re unable to keep up with your monthly payments, include:

Monthly loan payments are based on a percentage of the borrower’s income, with remaining debt forgiven after a specific number of years in repayment. The payment is based on 15 percent of discretionary income, defined as the amount by which adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeds 150 percent of the poverty line. The poverty line is based on the borrower’s family size and state of residence.

The math: Income-based repayment = 15% (AGI - 150% x Poverty Line) / 12

The easier way to look at it: For many borrowers who qualify, the payment will be less than 10 percent of their monthly income.

Graduated repayment starts with monthly payments that are just barely higher than interest-only repayment plans. The monthly amount you owe increases every two years. The minimum monthly payment is $25.

After the borrower leaves school, they can combine two or more federal loans into a single Direct Consolidation Loan with a single monthly payment.

Additionally, if a borrower is struggling to make payments due to circumstantial hardship, like the loss of a job, they may qualify for loan deferment or forbearance for a certain amount of time. This means they can temporarily stop making federal student loan payments or reduce the amount they pay, but there are drawbacks. If your loan is unsubsidized, the interest will continue to accrue at its regular rate and be added to the total loan amount.

Sundha Kumar
Animal Trainer
Answer # 2 #

The Federal Stafford loans are the most widely available loan program. Federal Stafford loans feature a fixed low interest rate that adjusts annually and is capped at 8.25%. There is also an origination fee which is a percentage of the total loan amount. There are two types of Stafford Loans: Subsidized and Unsubsidized

Eligible graduate or professional students who need to borrow more than then maximum unsubsidized loan amounts to meet their educational costs may apply for a graduate plus loan as long as enrollment is half time. A credit check will be completed once the student accepts the loan on Banner self-service.

Get additional information regarding graduate plus loans including interest rates and origination fees.

U.S. Citizens, nationals or permanent residents who are enrolled as a matriculated student in an eligible program.

You will need to complete the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) form to determine eligibility. The FAFSA filing priority deadline is March 1st of the prior academic year for which you are applying.

Students who file after the March 1st priority deadline may not be considered for certain limited institutional and/or federal campus based funds.

Complete Entrance Counseling & Sign Master Promissory Note (MPN) after accepting Award. There is a separate for both the unsubsidized and graduate plus student loans.

Complete Exit Interview upon graduating.

Sisir Alter
Answer # 3 #

Maximum 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).

Selva Pain
Answer # 4 #

A Stafford Loan, also called a Direct Loan, is a federal student loan from the U.S. Department of Education that you can apply for in order to help pay for college. As with any loan, you’re required to pay it back plus the interest.

Federal student loans are available to eligible students for education at a four-year college or university, community college, or trade, career or technical school.

Of course, it’s best to avoid borrowing through student loans, if possible. But federal loans are often preferable to private loans because they come with some perks.

Here’s what you need to know about Stafford Loans.

There are two types of Stafford Loans: subsidized and unsubsidized.

Subsidized loans are only available to undergraduate students. Unsubsidized loans are available to undergraduate, graduate and professional school students.

With subsidized student loans, the government pays the interest during certain periods. These include while you’re in school at least half-time, for the first six months after you leave school (also called your grace period) and if you ever qualify for an approved deferment.

If the interest on an unsubsidized loan is not paid during a deferment or forbearance period, the unpaid interest will be capitalized, or added to the principal balance, at the end of the deferment or forbearance period.

In order to qualify for subsidized student loans, you’ll need to demonstrate financial need. That is not the case with unsubsidized loans. These loans are available to eligible graduate and professional students in addition to undergraduate students, and eligibility isn’t based on financial need.

You’re required to pay the interest for the life of the loan, even during payment pauses. However, there are exceptions, such as if you have a deferment due to active cancer treatment. Also, the current payment pause and interest waiver during the pandemic temporarily sets the interest rate to zero on both subsidized and unsubsidized loans.

For undergraduate students, the maximum you can borrow each year ranges from $5,500 to $12,500 per year for both subsidized and unsubsidized loans. The amount you can borrow depends on your dependency status and what year you are in school. Dependent undergraduate students can borrow $5,500 to $7,500 per year and independent students can borrow $9,500 to $12,500 a year.

For graduate and professional borrowers, you can borrow up to $20,500 each year of Direct Unsubsidized Loans.

“Only borrow what you need, and keep track of how much you’ve borrowed to date,” says Jill Desjean, senior policy analyst at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA).

In addition to Stafford subsidized and unsubsidized loans, there are Direct PLUS Loans. These are for graduate or professional students as well as parents of dependent undergraduate students. Unlike Stafford or Direct Loans, Direct PLUS Loans require a credit check. But it’s not to see if you have a high credit score.

The credit check is used to check whether the borrower has an “adverse credit history,” which is a serious delinquency of more than $2,085 in debt in the past two years or certain derogatory events (bankruptcy discharge, foreclosure, repossession, tax lien, wage garnishment or default determination) within the past five years. Eligibility for a PLUS Loan does not depend on the borrower’s credit scores, income, debt-to-income ratios or the duration of employment with the current employer, unlike private student loans.

These loans are unsubsidized, and you can borrow the remainder of college costs (as determined by the college) that are not covered by financial aid.

The maximum loan length for Stafford Loans is 10 to 30 years, but your repayment length depends on the repayment plan you choose and the amount you borrow.

There are benefits and drawbacks to federal student loans over private student loans. For starters, if you demonstrate financial need, you may qualify for subsidized loans, and have the interest paid during deferments.

“Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans come with borrower protections not often found with other types of loans,” says Desjean.

Some benefits of Stafford Loans that Desjean points out include:

Federal student loans offer a fixed interest rate that’s set annually on July 1. A fixed interest rate, as opposed to a variable interest rate, means it will stay the same until you pay it off—no surprises or sudden increases. Rates change yearly but won’t be higher than 8.25% for undergraduates. For the Stafford Loan for graduate and professional school students, the cap is 9.5%, and for the PLUS Loans it’s 10.5%.

These are the interest rates for federal student loans disbursed between July 1, 2021, and July 1, 2022:

You also don’t need a co-signer, and you don’t have to begin repaying the loans until six months after you leave college or drop below half-time.

As with any student loan, there are drawbacks. All student loans accrue interest, so you’ll be paying back a greater amount than you borrowed. While federal student loans offer deferments, there are time limits to these and they need to be approved.

There are also limitations on who is eligible for repayment plans. If you don’t make your payments, this can not only damage your credit rating, but also lead to garnishing your wages and the withholding of any tax refunds you might have received. Plus, dealing with too much student loan debt can make it more challenging to reach other financial goals down the line, such as saving for retirement.

Limitations are one drawback of federal loans specifically, says Desjean. “Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans have annual and aggregate limits, so students may not be able to borrow as much as they need to cover the gap between college costs and financial aid,” she says.

“Some students with very good credit and/or a co-signer might be able to get a better interest rate in the private market than from federal loans, and private loans may offer refinancing options that aren’t available with Direct Loans,” she adds.

Desjean also points out that Direct Loans generally cannot be discharged in bankruptcy either.

Simone Nur