Federal Student Loan Application

How to apply for federal student loans

DIRECT SUBSIDIZED AND UNSUBSIDIZED FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN APPLICATION

There are 2 types of Federal Direct Student Loans that you can apply for:

  • Federal Direct Subsidized Loan (sometimes called the Subsidized Stafford Loan): This is the least expensive federal student loan option. That’s because the federal governments pays the interest on your loan while you’re in school at least half-time, during a 6-month post-enrollment grace period, and during periods of deferment (when you delay or reduce payment on your loan because of financial struggles or other immediate needs). You may be able to get this low-interest, fixed-rate loan if you are an undergraduate student with demonstrated financial need. Learn more about this loan >
     
  • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan (sometimes called the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan): You can apply for low-interest, fixed-rate if you are an undergraduate or graduate student. Financial need is not a factor in getting these loans. So you may be able to get this loan regardless of your family’s financial situation. Learn more about this loan >

The process for applying for either—or both—of these loans is the same.

Here are the 5 steps for applying for Federal Direct Student Loans:

  1. Complete the FAFSA or Renewal FAFSA (for returning students). Get tips for filling out the FAFSA >
  2. Get your financial aid award notification by mail or email from your school's financial aid office. This letter will tell you how much—and what kind of—financial aid you’ll receive (including any Federal Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loans).
  3. Contact your school’s financial aid office to accept or decline any financial aid offered (including loans as well as any grants or scholarships).
  4. Sign the required paperwork for your loan(s). This will include your Master Promissory Note (MPN)—the official agreement for your loan.
  5. Attend federal student loan counseling. If this is the first time you’re borrowing Federal Direct Loans, you’ll have to go through counseling before your loan payments are sent (or “disbursed”) to your school. Through in-person or online counseling, you’ll learn about the terms and requirements of your loan.

FEDERAL DIRECT PLUS LOAN APPLICATION

There are 2 kinds of Federal Direct PLUS Loans:

  • PLUS Loan: You can apply for a fixed-rate Direct PLUS Loan if you are a graduate or professional student. Learn more about this loan >
     
  • Parent PLUS Loan: You can apply for a fixed-rate Direct PLUS Parent Loan if you are the parent (or grandparent through legal adoption) of a dependent undergraduate student. Learn more about this loan >

The process for applying for either—or both—of these loans is generally the same. But, there are added considerations parents will need to know.

Here are the 4 steps for applying for Federal Direct PLUS Loans:

  1. Complete the FAFSA or Renewal FAFSA (for returning students). Get tips for filling out the FAFSA >

Note for parents applying for the Parent PLUS Loan: Note that the student must submit the FAFSA in order for the parent to apply for the Parent PLUS Loan. 

  1. Request the PLUS Loan through StudentLoans.gov. Sign into the website using your FSA ID. Click on the appropriate “Request a PLUS Loan” option and follow the instructions.

    Note for parents applying for the Parent PLUS Loan: Be sure to use your parent FSA ID, not your student’s FSA ID.  The parent (not the student) must request the PLUS loan. You should also know that, if you’re divorced, either or both parents can apply for the Parent PLUS Loan. Each parent will need to complete the loan application separately—and the total combined amount for the student can’t be higher than the school’s cost of attendance for the year.
  2. Sign the required paperwork for your loan(s). This will include your Master Promissory Note (MPN)—the official agreement for your loan.

    Note for parents applying for the Parent PLUS Loan: The same parent who completes the PLUS Loan Request must sign the MPN before the loan funds can be sent to the school.
  3. Go through loan counseling. If this is the first time you’re borrowing Federal Direct Loans, you’ll have to go through a brief finance counseling session. You can learn more about this at StudentLoans.gov.

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