Federal Student Loans

Federal Direct Stafford Loans for Students

The U.S. Department of Education makes Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans available through the Federal Direct Stafford Loan Program. Before applying for loans, you are required to submit a FAFSA to determine eligibility for grant aid and for determining your financial need. Most students are eligible for some type of student loans, regardless of their family income, except in a few uncommon circumstances, such as having already reached the lifetime loan limit, or being defaulted on prior student loans. The FAFSA helps to determine whether you are eligible for Subsidized or Unsubsidized loans.

Subsidized loans and unsubsidized loans are both federal loans that are deferred while students remain enrolled at least half-time (6 or more credit hours per semester). However, subsidized loans are need-based and do not accrue interest while you are in school; unsubsidized loans accrue interest from the date of disbursement. The interest on unsubsidized loans is deferred while it is accruing during a student’s in-school status. Both types of loans allow the student a six-month grace period after enrollment ceases before payments must begin. Most students will be eligible for a combination of the two loan types, although some students may only be eligible for unsubsidized loans.


In order to complete the application process for a Federal Direct Stafford Loan, you will need your FSA ID (username and password). This ID is used to access some Federal Student Aid Websites and to electronically sign Federal Student Aid documents.

Applying for Loans

Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans are used to assist in paying for college expenses. These loans are in the student’s name, and the student is responsible for repaying them after leaving school or dropping below half-time enrollment. Check current interest rates (rates are subject to increase July 1).

Complete the steps below to apply for the Federal Stafford Loan:

  1. Complete a FAFSA for the relevant aid year if you have not already done so.
  2. Complete your online Entrance Counseling – Once online, sign in using your FSA ID and complete the Entrance Counseling Session.
  3. Complete an electronic Master Promissory Note (eMPN) – Once online, sign in using your FSA ID and sign your Master Promissory Note.
  4. Complete BRCC’s Loan Request Form and submit to the Financial Aid Office.

Note: All four of these steps must be completed successfully before a Federal Direct Stafford Loan award will be offered to you.

Stafford Loan Forms

Direct Stafford (Student) Loan Limits

Direct Loan Limits Per Year in School *

Year in SchoolDependent Student, Parents PLUS eligible or not PLUS applicantsDependent Student, Parents Denied for PLUS loanIndependent
Freshman$5,500 (no more than $3500 may be subsidized)$9,500 (no more than $3500 may be subsidized)$9,500 (no more than $3500 may be subsidized)
Sophomore$6,500 (no more than $4500 may be subsidized)$10,500 (no more than $4500 may be subsidized)$10,500 (no more than $4500 may be subsidized)

*Students may be awarded less than the full year limit each year depending on cost of attendance and other aid.

Direct Loan Lifetime Limits**

DegreeDependent StudentIndependent Student
Undergraduate$31,000 (no more than $23000 may be subsidized)$57,500 (no more than $23000 may be subsidized)
Master’s/DoctorateN/A$138,500 (all unsubsidized)

** If you reach your subsidized limit before reaching your combined limit, you can still be awarded unsubsidized loans until the combined loan limit is reached.