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Federal loans and limits

There are three federal loan types:

  • Direct subsidized loans
  • Direct unsubsidized loans
  • Direct PLUS loans

Here you'll find information about each type.

 
 

Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans

Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans are for eligible students to help cover the cost of higher education. Information on interest rates and repayment terms can be found on the US Department of Education website.

Direct Subsidized Loans are available only to Undergraduate students, while Direct Unsubsidized Loans will be available to both Undergraduate and Graduate/Professional students.

The maximum loan amounts differ for dependent undergraduates, independent undergraduates and graduate/professional students. These are shown below along with the aggregate lifetime maximum loan limits.

Direct Loan Limits

Subsidized

Unsubsidized

Combined Maximum

Dependent Undergraduates

First Year

$3,500

$2,000

$5,500

Second Year

$4,500

$2,000

$6,500

Third Year and Up

$5,500

$2,000

$7,500

Independent Undergraduates

First Year

$3,500

$6,000

$9,500

Second Year

$4,500

$6,000

$10,500

Third Year and Up

$5,500

$7,000

$12,500

Graduate/Professional Students

Each Year

N/A

$20,500

$20,500

 

Aggregate Lifetime Maximum Loan Limits 

Subsidised

Sub andUnsubcombined Maximum

Dependent Undergraduates

$23,000

$31,000

Independent Undergraduates

$23,000

$57,500

Graduate/Professional Students

$65,500*

$138,500

*Effective for periods of enrollment beginning on or after July 1, 2012, graduate and professional students are no longer eligible to receive Direct Subsidized Loans. The $65,500 subsidized aggregate loan limit for graduate or professional students includes subsidized loans that a graduate or professional student may have received for periods of enrollment that began before July 1, 2012 otherwise the aggregate limit would still be $23,000.

 
 

Direct PLUS Loans

Direct PLUS Loan for Graduate students

If you are a Graduate student and you have taken out the maximum value of Direct Unsubsidized Loans, you can also apply for a Direct PLUS Loan to top up your finances if you meet the general eligibility criteria and do not have an adverse credit history. If you wish to apply for a PLUS Loan, you need to complete the online application on the US Department of Education website. Interest rates and repayment terms can also be found there.  The online application involves a credit check and depending on the results of your credit check you may need an endorser to endorse your PLUS Loan application.

Direct PLUS Loan for parents of Undergraduate students

Parents of Dependent Undergraduate students can take out a Parent PLUS loan to make up the difference between the Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan amount and the full cost of attendance of the programme, minus any scholarships.

If your parent wishes to apply for a PLUS Loan, they need to complete the online application on the US Department of Education website. Interest rates and repayment terms can also be found there. The online application normally involves a credit check.