Federal Direct Stafford Loans

The U.S. Department of Education offers eligible students at participating schools Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans to help cover the cost of higher education. Some people refer to these loans as Stafford Loans or Direct Stafford Loans. Direct Subsidized Loans have slightly better terms to help out students with financial need.

Direct Subsidized Loans

Federal Direct Subsidized Loans are offered to undergraduate and credential students based on demonstrated financial need. The interest on the loan is paid by the Department of Education as long as the student maintains half-time enrollment (6 units); or during the 6 months grace period*, or if the student has not exceeded his or her maximum time frame.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans are offered to all eligible undergraduate and graduate students, even those not demonstrating financial need. The Direct Unsubsidized Loan should be borrowed cautiously, since the borrower will be responsible for paying all the interest on the loan.  

Interest will begin accruing after the first disbursement, even though payment is not required until six months after graduating or dropping below half-time status. Interest-only payments may be made while in school, but it is not required.

If interest is not paid while in school, the interest is capitalized (added to the original loan amount) once repayment begins.

Acceptance Deadlines

2023-24 deadlines to accept loans:

  • December 8, 2023: For students attending Fall 2023 only
  • April 26, 2024: For full academic year loan(s) or Spring 2024 only


  • Repayment begins six months after graduation or after enrollment drops below half time.
  • Federal student loans cannot be discharged through bankruptcy.

Additional Information

  • To retrieve loan history information, go to the Federal Student Aid website.
  • Learn about Enrollment Requirements for disbursement of financial aid.
  • Find additional information about interest rates, origination fees, annual and maximum loan amounts and more on the Loans page.