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Ford Federal Direct Loan Program

Direct loans are lent by the federal government, rather than commercial lending institutions. The University's Office of Student Finance (OSF) administers the loans; determines your loan eligibility; approves the loan; confirms the promissory note, when necessary; receives the funds from the federal government; and credits the loan amount directly to your University student account.

Four types of loans are included in this program:

Common criteria

The four direct loan programs have these common criteria:

  • Loan periods may not exceed a nine-month academic year.
  • Loans can only cover consecutive terms of at least half-time enrollment.
  • Loans are capped by annual and aggregate borrowing limits.
  • Loan limits include summer term.

All Direct Loans disbursed on or after December 1, 2013 will be subject to new loan fee requirements. 

Direct Loan Program loan fee amounts

Loan Type
Impacted loans
Loan fee


Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans

First disbursed before October 1, 2016


$58.74 on a $5,500 loan

First disbursed before October 1, 2016


$58.79 on a $5,500 loan


Direct PLUS Loans (Parent and Grad/Prof Student)

First disbursed before October 1, 2016


$427.20 on a $10,000 loan

First disbursed before October 1, 2016


$427.60 on a $10,000 loan

Direct Subsidized Loan

Borrowers who demonstrate financial need may qualify for a Direct Subsidized Loan. The interest on subsidized loans is paid by the government while you are in school or in deferment.

Visit the Direct Loan student gateway for complete terms and details of the Direct Subsidized Loan.

First-time borrowers: New maximum time for Direct Subsidized Loans

New federal regulations limit new borrower eligibility for Direct Subsidized Loans to 150% of the published length of an undergraduate program. This limit applies only to first-time borrowers.

See the Federal Student Aid Information sheet for a  full explaination of this change.

Direct Unsubsidized Loan

Direct Unsubsidized Loans will accrue interest starting from the date of disbursement and continue to accrue interest throughout in-school status. You can choose to make interest payments while you are in school or have the interest capitalized (added to the loan balance). Capitalizing interest increases the amount of your loan.

Visit the Direct Loan student gateway for complete terms and details of the Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans.

Direct Graduate PLUS Loan

If you need to borrow funds beyond the federal Direct Unsubsidized loan limits, you may be able to participate in the new William D. Ford Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan.

Visit the Direct Loan student gateway for complete terms and details of the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan.

Borrowers often compare Graduate PLUS Loan vs. private loans.

Credit checks

While credit checks are required to be eligible, credit criteria are less restrictive than those for most private student loans. If you do not meet the credit requirements, you may still qualify for the loan if you have someone who does meet the credit requirements endorse the loan. An endorser, unlike a co-signer, is not liable for your Graduate PLUS loan debt if you become permanently disabled or die.

Master promissory note

Before the loan can be disbursed, you must complete a separate master promissory note (MPN). Master promissory notes can be accesed through the Federal Student Aid website. Read all of the terms and conditions of the Graduate PLUS Loan explained in the MPN. By signing the MPN, you promise to repay the loan. You can sign the required MPN electronically with your US Department of Education-issued FSA ID. If you don't already have an FSA ID, you may create one on the Federal Student Aid website.

The Graduate PLUS MPN can be used for one or more loans in one or more academic years. This means that, in most cases, you may receive additional Direct PLUS loans for up to 10 years without completing a new PLUS MPN.

Direct Parent PLUS Loan

Please note: beginning fall 2016, Parent PLUS borrowers will no longer be required to complete an Active Confirmation form. Parents will complete PLUS loan applications at during the 2016-17 academic year.

Parents of dependent students may be able to borrow from a non-need-based program, the Ford Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan Program. The parent may borrow an amount up to the cost of attendance minus other financial aid. At disbursement, the funds will first be transferred into the student's University account to pay for on-campus charges, e.g., tuition and fees, room and board, and other school charges. If any money remains, the parent of the student will receive the balance, unless the parent designates that the student should be the recipient.

Deferment and repayment

There is no grace period for a Parent PLUS Loan. Repayment begins 60 days after the last disbursement of the loan. Parent borrowers must call their federal loan servicer to request a deferment based on the dependent student's enrollment status.

PLUS credit denials

If your parent receives notice from Direct Loans that their credit has been denied for the Parent PLUS Loan, they are then eligible for one of two options:

  1. If your parent has someone willing to endorse a PLUS Loan, he or she can complete an application online with Direct Loans. The endorser will need to have an FSA ID. Your parent will also need to complete a new Parent PLUS Master Promissory Note.
  2. You and your parent can choose to cancel the PLUS Loan and receive additional Unsubsidized Loan funds instead. Freshman and sophomores can receive up to an additional $4000 in Unsubsidized Loans, and juniors and seniors can receive up to an additional $5000.

Please note that you can only receive one of the above options if you are denied a Parent Plus Loan.