Federal Direct Stafford Loans

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The Direct Loan program offers many benefits to students and parent borrowers, including:

  • Consistent access to loan funds directly from the U.S. Department of Education
  • Competitive rates and repayment options available to all borrowers
  • Simple application process
  • Quick receipt of funds
  • Excellent customer service

This loan may be subsidized, unsubsidized, or a combination of both. With a subsidized loan, which is awarded based on financial need, the federal government pays interest that accrues while you are enrolled at least half-time. The unsubsidized loan is not based on need; interest that accrues while in school must either be paid monthly or deferred and capitalized (added to the original loan balance). Loan eligibility is determined by the Financial Aid Office.

Interest rates for Federal Direct Stafford Loans are listed below. There is a 6-month grace period prior to repayment following graduation, withdrawal, or a drop below half-time status; however, interest may accrue during this period*. In order to minimize borrowing, students and families should use other sources of financing before borrowing and borrow only the minimum amount needed. Loan funds are disbursed directly to Bristol in equal amounts over each term of enrollment for the academic year. A student receives one 6-month grace period. Once expired, loans go into repayment immediately upon graduation or dropping below six credits of enrollment.

*The interest subsidy during the grace period was eliminated for loans paid out between July 1, 2012 and July 1, 2014. 

Origination Fee

The loan origination fee for 2020-21 and 2021-22 is 1.057%.

Interest Rate

Interest rates may change annually.

  2020-21 Rates 2022-23 Rates
Subsidized 3.734% 4.99%
Unsubsidized 3.734% 6.54%
Capped at 8.25%    

Loan Limits

Subsidized Loan Usage (SULA)
There is a limit on how many years you can receive a Federal Direct Subsidized Loan. Generally, you can receive the subsidized loan for 3 years if enrolled in an Associate Degree program and 1.5 years in a Certificate program. These limits also affect the federal interest subsidy on these subsidized loans. A more detailed explanation (with examples) of this important provision is provided at the below link.

Download the Subsidized Loan Information Packet for more information.

Annual Stafford Loan Limits
Year 1 $5,500 (dependent)
$9,500 (independent)
Subsidized maximum $3,500
Year 2 $6,500 (dependent)
$10,500 (independent)
Subsidized maximum $4,500
Year 3 & 4 $7,500 per year (dependent)
$12,500 per year (independent)
Subsidized maximum $5,500 annually
Graduate Student $20,500 per year
Unsubsidized Loan only (as of 7/1/12)


Aggregate Limits

  • For undergraduate students:
    Dependent—$31,000 (up to $23,000 may be in subsidized Stafford loans)
    Independent—$57,500 (up to $23,000 may be in subsidized Stafford loans)
  • For graduate and professional students: 
    $138,500 (up to $65,500 may be in subsidized Stafford loans)