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About Federal Student Loans

If you are a current college student, or student-to-be, federal student loans should be explored before private student loans. Only consider private loans once you’ve exhausted other financial aid options.

You should also consider looking into grants and scholarships. The beauty of these is they do not need to be paid back. A federal or private student loan do need to be paid back based on the terms of the loan.

Federal loans are funded by the U.S. Department of Education and typically have lower interest rates than private loans.

Types of Loans

Direct Subsidized – a type of Stafford Loan for students with a financial need.

Direct Unsubsidized – This loan is similar to a subsidized loan, but is not a need based loan. You also will have to pay interest during periods when a subsidized loan interest is deferred. For this reason explore all subsidized options first.

Parent PLUS – Loans that can be taken out by the biological or adoptive parent of a student. Funds initially go to the school, and any remaining funds go to the parent.

A credit check will be performed for this type of loan to ensure no adverse credit history.

Grad PLUS – For graduate students attending school at least half-time.

How to Qualify

While there are some specific requirement based on each loan type, there are also more general requirements every applicant must meet.

  • Demonstrate financial need where required
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • Have a valid Social Security number
  • Be registered with Selective Service if you’re a male between ages 18 and 25
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program
  • Be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for Direct Loan Program funds
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress in college or career school
  • Not in default on a federal student loan

Applying for Federal Student Loan

The easiest way to apply for a federal student loan is by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online.

You can also submit a FAFSA by mail if you prefer.

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