Stafford Loans FAQ

Stafford loans are federal student loans made directly to college and university students. They are intended to supplement personal and family resources, scholarships, grants and work-study. They may be subsidized or unsubsidized by the U.S. Government, depending on a student's financial need.

Subsidized or Unsubsidized Stafford loan?

Subsidized Stafford Loans are awarded based on financial need. You will not be charged interest before you begin repayment or during periods of deferment. The federal government "subsidizes" the interest during these times.

Unsubsidized Stafford Loans are not awarded based on financial need. Any eligible student can take out unsubsidized Stafford loans. You will be charged interest from the time the loan is disbursed to the time the loan is repaid in full.

What can I use a Stafford loan for?

Stafford loans can be used toward the total cost of education including tuition, room and board, books and other education-related expenses.

What are the benefits of a Stafford loan?

  • Government supported
  • Available to all undergraduate and graduate students
  • No payments while in school and grace period after graduation
  • Low fixed interest rates–as low as 3.4 percent
  • Undergraduate students can borrow amounts that vary by class year, and graduate students can borrow up to $20,500 per year

To be eligible for a Stafford loan as an undergraduate student, you must be enrolled at least half-time (based on your school's definition of full and half time status).

Can I get a Stafford loan if I don't have a credit history?

Yes. The Stafford loan is not a credit-based loan; it is a need-based loan and your eligibility for it is governed by your Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) submission, not your credit report.

When do I receive the Stafford loan funds?

Your lender will disburse Stafford loan funds directly to your school in two installments—fall semester and winter semester. Your loan money is used to pay your tuition and fees. If you have funds left over, your school will credit your account or pay you directly, depending on your school's policy.

What if I want to cancel my Stafford loan?

Your school must notify you in writing whenever your account is credited with your loan proceeds. This notification must be sent to you no earlier than 30 days before, and no later than 30 days after the school credits your account. You may cancel all or a portion of your loan if you inform your school within 14 days after the date that your school sends you this notice, or by the first day of the payment period, whichever is later. Your school can tell you the first day of your payment period.

Which online courses accept Stafford loans?

Online courses offered through an accredited Title IV school may be eligible; check with the school's financial aid office. All Online Schools takes pride in listing only accredited online schools. We also list a few vocational programs that do not require accreditation.

How do I apply for a Stafford loan?

You first must complete the Free Application for Federal Financial Student Aid (FAFSA) or Renewal FAFSA (for returning students). After the FAFSA is processed, your school will review the results and inform you of your loan eligibility by sending you an award letter. Once your award letter is received, you should apply for the Stafford Loan, as well as look at other federal student loans. If you aren't eligible for federal loans, you can then apply for private student loans.