Federal Direct Loans
Direct Loans are available for undergraduate, graduate and professional degree-seeking students who are enrolled at least half-time (6+ credits hours for undergraduate; 4.5+ credit hours for graduate) and have completed the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Repayment begins six months after the student graduates, leaves school, or drops below half-time enrollment. There are two types of Direct Loans: subsidized and unsubsidized.
Direct Subsidized Loans are available to undergraduate students with financial need. The financial aid office determines the amount a student can borrow, and the amount may not exceed the student's financial need. The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest on a Direct Subsidized Loan while the student is enrolled at least half-time, for the first six months after leaving school (grace period), and during a period of deferment.
Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students; there is no requirement to demonstrate financial need. The financial aid office determines the amount a student can borrow based on the cost of attendance and other financial aid the student receives. The student is responsible for paying the interest on a Direct Unsubsidized Loan during all periods. If the student chooses not to pay the interest while in school and during grace periods and deferment or forbearance periods, interest will accrue and be capitalized (that is, interest will be added to the principal amount of the loan.)
Direct Loan Steps for first-time borrowers:
Students must accept the Direct loan by signing and returning the Financial Aid Award letter. First-time Direct Loan borrowers are required to complete entrance counseling, a tool to ensure you understand your obligation to repay the loan; and sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN), agreeing to the terms of the loan before the loan can be disbursed. Direct Loan terms and conditions can be found on the MPN.
Determining Your Loan Amount
The maximum amount borrowed (determined by the Financial Aid Office) cannot exceed the student's cost of attendance minus other financial aid.
The following chart shows the maximum amount students may borrow per year, effective July 1, 2008. Satisfactory academic progress is reviewed at the end of each semester to evaluate continued eligibility.
The amounts listed below are the total amount of federal loans that can be borrowed for undergraduate and graduate study, effective July 1, 2008:
- Undergraduate Dependent Students: $31,000 - no more than $23,000 of which can be subsidized.
- Undergraduate Independent Students: $57,500 - no more than $23,000 of which can be subsidized.
- Graduate and Professional Students: $138,500 - no more than $65,500 of which can be subsidized. (The graduate cumulative limit includes all loans received for undergraduate study.)
You can log in to review the cumulative amount of federal loans you have borrowed.
USF will apply the Direct Loan funds to a student's account one time each semester to pay for tuition, room and board. If any loan funds remain they will be returned to the student. All loan funds must be used for educational expenses.
The interest rate for subsidized and unsubsidized Direct loans (Undergraduate students), first disbursed on or after July 1, 2020 and prior to July 1, 2021, is fixed at 2.75 percent. The interest rate for unsubsidized Direct loans (Graduate or Professional Students), first disbursed on or after July 1, 2020 and prior to July 1, 2021, is fixed at 4.3 percent.
For Direct Loans (undergraduate students), that are first disbursed on or after October 1, 2019 and before October 1, 2020, there is a loan fee of 1.059 percent, deducted proportionately from each loan disbursement.
The U.S. Department of Education is the lender for the Direct Loan Program; however when it is time for repayment, students make payments to their loan servicer. The loan servicer will provide regular updates on the status of the Direct Loan(s) and will notify the borrower of the first payment due date. Generally the loan will be repaid within 10 to 25 years, depending on the repayment plan chosen. Payments are usually due monthly. Visit the Federal Student Aid webpage for more information about repaying federal student loans.