Stafford Loan Information

Learn About Stafford
  • Fixed interest rate - as low as 4.66%
  • No payments while in school at least half-time

Get Stafford Help

Stafford loans are the most common form of government student loans, and are awarded to college students who file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). There are many Stafford loan benefits, but one of the greatest benefits is that they are not credit-based.

Stafford Loan Options

Stafford loans come in two forms — subsidized and unsubsidized.

Subsidized Loans:

  • 4.66% interest rate
  • Federal government pays interest while enrolled in school
  • Can borrow up to $8,500 per year depending on your eligibility

Unsubsidized Loans:

  • 4.66% interest rate
  • Interest accrues while in school
  • Can borrow up to $12,000 per year depending on your eligibility

Stafford Loan Interest Rates

Academic Year Subsidized Rates Unsubsidized Rates Graduate Rates
2011-12 3.40% 6.80% 6.80%
2012-13 3.40% 6.80% 6.80%
2013-14* 3.86% 3.86% 5.41%
Current Stafford Loan interest rates in effect from 07/01/2013 to 06/30/2014
*These rates have been updated to reflect the new student loan interest rate legislation that went into effect on August 9, 2013. Stay up-to-date on interest rate changes and Stafford loan news at

Stafford loans that have been disbursed on or after 7/1/2010 carry a 1.0% origination fee.

Graduate Rates

Graduate student loans are unsubsidized and have a fixed interest rate of 6.21%. Learn more about Stafford loan interest rates.

Stafford Loan Limits

There are limits on how much students are allowed to borrow, and these Stafford loan limits may leave a student without enough money to pay for school. In this scenario, it is important to keep in mind the importance of responsible borrowing. While private student loans can cover any of your remaining costs, they often come with a high interest rate that can take years to pay back.

How to Apply

To apply for a Stafford loan, you must complete the FAFSA at

Once you complete your application, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR), which will detail the amount of federal aid you qualify for. Based off of this amount, your school will then send you a financial aid award letter including the full amount you are eligible to receive. In order to accept these loans, students are required to submit a Master Promissory Note (MPN), through which they will provide basic information about themselves and promise to repay their loans after graduation. While returning students do not need to sign an MPN every year, students transferring to a new school will be required to submit a new MPN in order to qualify for transfer student loans.

Dependency Status

Financial aid eligibility is largely impacted by your dependency status. Independent students are eligible to receive much more money in unsubsidized loans, as well as additional unsubsidized loans for graduate school. Not sure if you qualify? Try taking our quiz to see if you are still a dependent student.


You must be a U.S. citizen or national, a U.S. permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen accepted for enrollment or attending a school that participates in the Federal Direct Loan Program. Additionally:

  • You must have submitted a FAFSA to be eligible for a Stafford loan
  • For subsidized Stafford, you must have financial need as determined by your school
  • You must be enrolled or plan to enroll at least half time

International Study

For international students, loans will be harder to come by, but there are a handful of loans for international students in the US that you might be eligible for.