The U.S. Federal Government is the largest lender of student loans under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program which encapsulates the following loans for which students may be eligible:
- Subsidized Stafford Loans
(also called Direct Subsidized Loans)
- Unsubsidized Stafford Loans
(also called Direct Unsubsidized Loans)
At a minimum, students will be awarded Unsubsidized Stafford Loans and may be eligible for Subsidized Stafford Loans depending on financial need.
- Parent PLUS Loan
Parent PLUS Loans are for parents borrowing on behalf of a first-year undergraduate student. Adult Degree Completion students are not eligible for Parent PLUS Loans.
In order to become eligible for a federal loan, students must complete a FAFSA. Stafford Loans are not awarded based on the student’s credit worthiness. At a minimum, students will be awarded with Unsubsidized Stafford Loans and may be eligible for Subsidized Stafford Loans depending on financial need. Learn how to complete a FAFSA on our Apply for Aid page.
Parent PLUS Loan borrowers must submit a secondary application at studentaid.gov and the Federal Government will check the parent’s credit history to determine if the application is approved.
Loan Counseling and Master Promissory Notes
Prior to the Federal Government disbursing the loans to the student’s account balance, student borrowers must complete Loan Entrance Counseling and a Master Promissory Note for their Stafford Loans. Entrance Counseling goes over what it means to borrow a loan and the student’s rights and responsibilities. The Master Promissory Note is the legally binding agreement between the Federal Government and the student borrower for the loan. Both items can be completed at studentaid.gov.
When a student borrower graduates or drops below half-time enrollment, the student must complete Loan Exit Counseling which reminds students of their rights and responsibilities for repaying the loan. Loan Exit Counseling may be completed at studentaid.gov.
The Stafford, Parent PLUS, and Graduate PLUS Loans have fixed interest rates that the Federal Government sets for loans taken each year between July 1 and June 30. Interest rates are based on the 10-Year Treasury Bill. Interest rates are announced in late May and vary depending on the loan program:
Subsidized/Unsubsidized Stafford Loans: 2.75% (for undergraduate students in the 2020-21 academic year)
Subsidized/Unsubsidized Stafford Loans: 4.3% (for graduate students in the 2020-21 academic year)
Parent PLUS Loan: 5.3% (for parents of dependent undergraduate students in the 2020-21 academic year)
Grad PLUS Loan: 5.3% (for graduate students in the 2020-21 academic year)
Subsidized Stafford Loans feature an interest subsidy in which the Federal Government pays the interest on the loan that accumulates while the student borrower is enrolled at least half-time, during a 6-month grace period after the student graduates or ceases half-time enrollment, or any period of deferment activated through the student borrower’s loan servicer. This loan is under the student borrower’s name and it is their responsibility to repay.
Unsubsidized Stafford Loans begin accruing interest monthly while the student borrower is enrolled. This loan is under the student borrower’s name and it is their responsibility to repay. The Federal Government does not require repayment on the principal or the accrued interest while the student is enrolled at least half-time or during their grace period. Student borrowers are encouraged to make payments on the interest as it accumulates as the Federal Government will capitalize the accrued interest at the end of the borrower’s grace period which means the accrued interest will be added to the loan’s principal balance. If this occurs, the student borrower will accumulate interest on the new total principal balance.
The Federal Government sets a maximum amount of Stafford that may be borrowed depending on the student’s dependency status and their academic standing.
Dependent undergraduate students may borrow:
- First Year: $5,500 total (up to $3,500 in subsidized loans)
- Second Year (sophomores): $6,500 total (up to $4,500 in subsidized loans)
- Third Year and beyond (juniors and seniors): $7,500 total (up to $5,500 in subsidized loans)
Independent undergraduate students may borrow:
- First Year: $9,500 total (up to $3,500 in subsidized loans)
- Second Year (sophomores): $10,500 total (up to $4,500 in subsidized loans)
- Third Year and beyond (juniors and seniors): $12,500 total (up to $5,500 in subsidized loans)
Student borrowers begin repayment on their federal loans 6 months after they graduate or cease half-time enrollment. Students are not required to make payments while they are enrolled and are not penalized if they choose to make payments when they’re not required.
The Government offers repayment plans with fixed payments depending on term length as well as plans that are based on the student’s income. Students may contact their loan servicer to help determine which repayment plan may be the best one for their situation.
Parents of dependent undergraduate students may borrow a Parent PLUS Loan on their child’s behalf to help pay their child’s educational expenses. Only a student’s parents or step-parents may apply for the loan. If the student’s parents are divorced, the custodial or non-custodial parent is eligible to apply for the loan. The Parent PLUS Loan requires a secondary application that may be submitted at studentaid.gov.
Parent PLUS Loans is under the name of the parent that applied and it is their responsibility to repay the loan. Parent PLUS Loans cannot be transferred to the student’s name. Parent borrowers must complete a Parent PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note (also submitted at studentaid.gov) which is separate from the student’s Master Promissory Note for their Subsidized/Unsubsidized Stafford Loans. Loan Entrance Counseling is not required for most parent borrowers, but PLUS Counseling may be required for some.
Interest accumulates monthly on the Parent PLUS Loan following disbursement. Parent borrowers have the option of deferring payment on the principal balance while the student is enrolled at least half-time and may opt-in for an additional 6 month grace period following the student’s graduation or ceasing half-time enrollment. There are no penalties for early repayment. Any unpaid interest on the loan at the time the grace period ends will capitalize and be added to the principal balance.
Adult Degree Completion students are not eligible for Parent PLUS Loans.
The Perkins Loan was a loan program that the Federal Government ended. No new Perkins Loans may be awarded. Students who had Perkins Loans from Dominican in the past will work with the Dominican’s Loan Servicer, University Accounting Service (UAS), to repay the loan. UAS may be reached at:
University Accounting Service LLC
P.O. Box 918
Brookfield, WI 53008