Student loan options can be overwhelming at first glance. But when it comes to federal student loans, there are just a few options.
The first step in getting one of the federal student loans listed below is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. While the FAFSA does determine eligibility for need-based aid, it also acts as an application for student loan options, both for need-based and non-need-based loans. It supplies students who need financial aid with that help as well as provides financing options for those students that would like to borrow with low-interest federal loans but don’t necessarily qualify for need-based aid.
Direct Subsidized Loan – This subsidized loan, sometimes referred to as the Stafford Loan, is available to students who qualify for need as determined by the FAFSA. Students must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen as well as have a high school diploma or GED. Interest does not accrue while the student is in school. If students qualify for a Direct Subsidized Loan, it will be stated on their award letter notification along with the amount for which they can borrow.
Direct Unsubsidized Loan – This unsubsidized loan, sometimes referred to as the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, is a little different from the other federal loans. For subsidized loans, students must qualify for need as determined by the FAFSA. However, the Direct Unsubsidized Loan is available to any student, regardless of need. Interest accrues while the student is attending school. If students want to apply for the Direct Unsubsidized Loan, they must complete the FAFSA. Students can also qualify for a federal student loan consolidation after graduating from college or graduate school.
Important Note: Difference between unsubsidized and subsidized loans is interest. Specifically, the allocation of money, known as a subsidy, to cover interest on subsidized loans while the borrower is an active student.
Perkins Loan – The Perkins Loan is a discontinued federal loan option. The authority for schools to make new Federal Perkins Loans ended on Sept. 30, 2017.
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