Federal Direct Loans (subsidized and unsubsidized)

The Federal Direct Loan is a student loan program provided by the US Department of Education and administered by Iowa State University.

How to Apply

  1. Complete the FAFSA
  2. First-time borrowers must complete Entrance Counseling and a Master Promissory Note (MPN).
  3. Accept, reduce, or decline your Federal Direct Loan(s) each semester on AccessPlus > Student tab > Financial Aid > Accept/Decline Loan. Use the dropdown in the top left to change the semester.
The earliest the loan can be disbursed is the Wednesday before the semester begins. Check AccessPlus > Student tab > Financial Aid > Aid Status 2-3 weeks before the start of each semester to make sure you have completed all necessary steps to receive the loan(s).

Deadline: There are several federal regulations that determine if and when the Office of Student Financial Aid can process a Federal Direct Loan. Students that need to use a Federal Direct Loan for the start of a semester should complete all steps listed above at least one month prior to the start of the semester to avoid delays. We recommend Federal Direct Loans be accepted or declined via AccessPlus prior to the end of the semester the loan was offered for.

Direct Subsidized Loan

  • FAFSA must be filed for student to be considered for eligibility.
  • Available to degree seeking undergraduate students enrolled at least half-time (6 credits) with financial need. Financial need is based on the cost of attendance, expected family contribution calculated from the FAFSA, and other financial aid available.
  • No credit check or co-signer is required.
  • No payments are required while the student is enrolled at least half-time.
  • Monthly repayment begins six months after the student graduates or ceases to be enrolled at least half-time.
  • Interest begins to accrue when the borrower enters repayment. Click here for information on current interest rates and loan origination fees.
  • No penalty for early repayment.
  • Subject to annual and aggregate loan limits.
  • New borrowers as of July 1, 2013 (borrowers who do not have an outstanding Direct Loan balance as of this date are considered “new”) can only receive subsidized loans for 150% of their published program length. For example, if a program’s published length is 4 years, a student would be eligible for subsidized loans for 6 years. More information can be found at StudentAid.gov.

Direct Unsubsidized Loan

  • FAFSA must be filed for student to be considered for eligibility.
  • Available to degree seeking students enrolled at least half-time (6 credits for undergraduates, 5 credits for graduate/professional students not on assistantship).
  • No credit check or co-signer is required.
  • No payments are required while the student is enrolled at least half-time.
  • Monthly repayment begins six months after the student graduates or ceases to be enrolled at least half-time.
  • Unlike the subsidized loan, interest begins accruing when the loan is disbursed. Click here for information on current interest rates and loan origination fees.
  • No penalty for early repayment. Students are encouraged to make interest payments while enrolled to help reduce their overall indebtedness.
  • Subject to annual and aggregate loan limits.

Dependent Annual Borrowing Limits

 Annual Federal Direct Subsidized Loan Base AmountAdditional Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan Amount
Dependant Freshman$3,500$2,000
Dependant Sophomore$4,500$2,000
Dependant Junior$5,500$2,000
Dependant Senior$5,500$2,000

Independent Annual Borrowing Limits

 Annual Federal Direct Subsidized Loan Base Amount*Additional Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan Amount
Independant Freshman$3,500$6,000
Independant Sophomore$4,500$6,000
Independant Junior$5,500$7,000
Independant Senior$5,500$7,000

* The annual aggregate is the base amount plus the additional unsubsidized amount.

Graduate Annual Borrowing Limits

 Annual Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan Amount
Undeclared Graduate Student$12,500*
Graduate Student$20,500
Veterinary Medicine Student$40,500
* An undeclared graduate student can receive up to $12,500 over the course of 12 months.

Aggregate Borrowing Limits

 Maximum Federal Direct Subsidized Loan AmountMaximum Federal Direct Loan Amount (Sub and Unsub combined)
Dependent Undergraduate Student$23,000$31,000
Independent Undergraduate Student$23,000$57,500
Graduate or Professional Student$65,500$138,500
Health Professions Student (Veterinary Medicine)$65,500$224,000