Consider Federal Student Loans

Consider Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans, also known as Direct Loans, are designed to cover the gap between cost of attendance and other financial aid. To determine if you may be eligible for federal student loans, complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).

Features of federal student loans include:

  • Dependent students are under 24 years old, are not married, do not have dependents and are not veterans.
  • Independent students are at least 24 years old, are married, have dependents or are veterans.
  • Eligible non-citizens include US permanent residents. Click here for more details on federal student loan eligibility.
  • Annual loan limits depend on your year in school and whether the student is dependent or independent.

Key Federal Student Loan Terms

  • Dependent students are under 24 years old, are not married, do not have dependents and are not veterans.
  • Independent students are at least 24 years old, are married, have dependents or are veterans.
  • Annual loan limits depend on your year in school and whether the student is dependent or independent.

Federal Perkins Loans

Federal Perkins Loans are school-based, low-interest education loans available for US citizens and eligible non-citizens enrolled at least half-time in an undergraduate, graduate or professional program. No credit check or cosigner is required. These loans are awarded based on exceptional financial need.

Direct Stafford Loans

Direct Stafford Loans are available to US citizens and eligible non-citizens enrolled at least half-time in an undergraduate or graduate program. No credit check or cosigner is required. Stafford Loans may be subsidized or unsubsidized. Subsidized Stafford Loans are available to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need, and the government pays the interest on these loans while the student is in school. Unsubsidized Stafford Loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students regardless of financial need and the student is responsible for paying the interest but can defer payments while in school.

Direct PLUS Loans for Graduate and Professional Degree Students

Direct PLUS Loans are available to US citizens and eligible non-citizens enrolled at least half-time in a graduate or professional program. Students must pass a credit check and no cosigner is required. These loans let students borrow up to the full cost of education less any other financial aid.

Direct PLUS Loans for Parents

Direct PLUS Loans are available to parents who are US citizens and eligible non-citizens with dependent students enrolled at least half-time in an undergraduate program. Parents must pass a credit check. These loans let parents borrow up to the full cost of their child's education less any other financial aid.

Federal Consolidation Loans

You can combine multiple federal student loans into one loan with the option of an extended repayment period that will reduce your monthly payment. Contact the Direct Loan Origination Center's Consolidation Department at or loanconsolidation.ed.gov for more information.

How to Apply for Federal Student Loans

Apply for federal student loans directly from the government at studentloans.gov. The government uses information from your FAFSA® to determine eligibility and award amount.

Use the links below to compare the different types of federal and private student loans.

Did You Know?

We encourage you to maximize grants, scholarships and other free financial aid before taking student loans. If you need to borrow, compare federal and private student loans and choose the loans that best fit your needs.


FAFSA is a registered service mark of the U.S. Department of Education.