The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program offers student loans to undergraduate, graduate and professional students. A subsidized loan is need-based and doesn't accrue interest while the student is enrolled in school. A unsubsidized loan is not based on need, and interest does accrue while the student is enrolled in school.

Undergraduate Student Borrowing Limits

  • Freshman can borrow up to $5,500 per year, of which no more than $3,500 can be subsidized
  • Sophomores can borrow up to $6,500 per year, of which no more than $4,500 can be subsidized
  • Freshman can borrow up to $7,500 per year, of which no more than $5,500 can be subsidized

Graduate Student Borrowing Limits

All graduate students can borrow up to $20,500 per award year. Graduate students are only eligible for unsubsidized loans.

2016 Interest Rates

  • Undergrad Subsidized: 3.76%
  • Undergrad Unsubsidized: 3.76%
  • Graduate Unsubsidized: 5.31%
  • Parent PLUS: 6.31%
  • Graduate PLUS: 6.31%

Origination Fees

All Direct Loans are subject to an origination fee. The origination fee is deducted from the loan before your school receives the funds.

  • Subsidized: 1.069%
  • PLUS: 4.276%

Lifetime Borrowing Limits

  • Dependent undergraduate students can borrow up to $31,000, of which no more than $23,000 can be subsidized.
  • Independent undergraduate students can borrow up to $57,500, of which no more than $23,000 can be subsidized.
  • Graduate students can borrow up to $138,500.
  • Professional students can borrow up to $224,000.

Basic Eligibility Criteria

  • You must have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
  • You must be enrolled in a program leading to your first bachelor’s degree
  • You must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • You must not be in default on a federal student loan or owe a repayment on federal grant