Federal Stafford Loans
Federal loans are both subsidized (government pays the interest while student is enrolled at least six hours) and unsubsidized (government does not pay the interest while the student is enrolled at least six credit hours.) Students must be matriculated and taking at least six credits each semester to be eligible for Stafford loans. The interest rates for all Stafford loans are variable, but they don’t exceed 8.25 percent for students or 9 percent for parents. Students are required to have entrance counseling before receiving Stafford loans and undergo exit counseling for graduation or withdrawal. The counseling is available online.
Additional Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans
Dependent undergraduates whose parents are not eligible to borrow a Parent PLUS loan and independent undergraduate students are allowed to borrow additional unsubsidized Federal Stafford loans. Annual loan amounts vary according to grade level: freshman-$4,000; sophomore-$ 4,000; junior and senior-$5,000.
Federal Parent PLUS Loans
A Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) is a flexible option for parents looking to help pay for school costs. Loans are available to parents of dependent students at a fixed interest rate of 8.5%. Maximum loan amount available is the annual cost of attendance minus financial aid. Repayment of principal and interest begins within sixty days after full disbursement of the loan unless the parent has requested an in-school deferment from the lender.
Alternative/Private Loan Programs
Various lenders offer private education loans, with different terms and interest rates available to students who are credit worthy or who apply with a credit worthy co-signor. These loans are non-need based and most of them can be deferred while the student is in school. Interest rates and terms vary according to credit worthiness.
Federal Loan Limits
Freshmen (up to 29 credit hours) may borrow up to $3,500 if they’re enrolled in a program of study that is a full academic year. Sophomores (30-59 hours) may borrow up to $4,500 if the remainder of their program is a full academic year. Juniors (60-89 hours) and seniors (90 plus hours) may borrow up to $5,500 if the remainder of their program is one academic year. Higher loan limits in the form of an unsubsidized loan are available for dependent students whose parents are unable to obtain Federal PLUS Loans and for independent students.
You can find more information about these programs at the federal government’s student aid Web site.