Federal Pell Grant

A Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid. Pell grants are awarded to students who demonstrate financial need and who have not yet earned a bachelor’s or professional degree. The maximum award for the 2023 – 2024 award year (July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024) is $7,395. The amount of Federal Pell Grant funds you may receive over your lifetime is limited by federal law to be the equivalent of six years of Pell grant funding. Since the maximum amount of Federal Pell Grant funding, you can receive each year is equal to 100%, the six-year equivalent is 600%. You may not receive Federal Pell Grant funds from more than one school at a time.

The Pell Grant amount awarded will depend on financial need:

  • Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
  • Cost of Attendance (COA)
  • Enrollment Status

Financial Need is calculated as Need = COA-EFC-EFA (other financial assistance received).

Federal Direct Loan Program

Direct Loans, from the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, are low-interest loans for eligible students to help cover the cost of higher education at a four-year college or university, community college, trade, career, or technical school. Eligible students borrow directly from the U.S. Department of Education at participating schools.

  • A Direct Subsidized Loan is awarded on the basis of the student’s financial need and other specific eligibility requirements. The federal government subsidizes the interest on these loans while borrowers are enrolled at least half-time, during a six-month grace period, or during authorized periods of deferment.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loan is not based on the student’s financial need, but students must also meet specific eligibility requirements. Interest accrues throughout the life of the loan. The borrower may choose to pay the accrued interest on the loan or allow the interest to be capitalized (added to the loan principal).
  • Direct PLUS Loan is a federal loan that graduate or professional degree students and parents of dependent undergraduate students can use to help pay education expenses. The U.S. Department of Education makes Direct PLUS Loans to eligible borrowers through schools participating in the Direct Loan Program. Eligibility is not need-based, but a credit check is required.

Federal student loans offer several benefits compared to options, some of which include:

  • Fixed interest rate (usually lower that private loans)
  • No credit check or cosigner on most loans
  • Deferred payments for students enrolled at least half-time
  • Flexible repayment plans

Interest Rates for 2023-2024

Congress has passed the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013, which ties federal student loan interest rates to financial markets. Under this Act, interest rates will be determined each June for new loans being made for the upcoming award year, which runs from July 1 to the following June 30. Each loan will have a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan.

Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized Loans (Undergraduate) 5.50% Interest Rate
Direct Unsubsidized Loans (Graduate or Professional Students) 7.05% Interest Rate
Direct PLUS loans (Parents and Graduate or Professional Students 8.05% Interest Rate

Interest rates for new Direct Loans made on or after July 1, 2023, and before July 1, 2024. Learn about interest rates and fees associated with federal student loans.

Annual Loan Limits

Dependent Students

Freshman: $3,500 Base Amount, $2,000 Additional Unsubsidized Loan Amount for a total of $5,500

Sophomore: $4,500 Base Amount, $2,000 Additional Unsubsidized Loan Amount for a total of $6,500

Junior or Senior: $5,500 Base Amount, $2,000 Additional Unsubsidized Loan Amount for a total of $7,500

Independent Students

Freshman: $3,500 Base Amount, $6,000 Additional Unsubsidized Loan Amount for a total of $9,500

Sophomore: $4,500 Base Amount, $6,000 Additional Unsubsidized Loan Amount for a total of $10,500

Junior or Senior: $5,500 Base Amount, $7,000 Additional Unsubsidized Loan Amount for a total of $12,500

Graduate Students: $0 Base Amount, $20,500 Additional Unsubsidized Loan Amount for a total of $20,500

Grade Level Determination

Any student pursuing an undergraduate degree must be classified by grade level, as well as meet grade level progression in order to comply with the requirements of FSA and the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program. Graduate students do not have grade level requirements. Please refer to the table below to determine the grade level or the progression rate for an undergraduate student.

Freshman (Year 1)

Sophomore (Year 2)

Junior (Year 3)

Senior (Year 4)

0-29 Credits

30-59 Credits

60-89 Credits

90+ Credits

Loan Requirements

In order to receive federal student loans, you must complete certain requirements. The Department of Education has created a website, StudentAid.gov, to manage borrower requirements and provide valuable information regarding federal student loans. The three items listed below are required from all borrowers.

  • Entrance Counseling
    To ensure that you understand your rights and responsibilities as a student loan borrower, the Federal Government requires you to participate in loan counseling before receiving a Direct Loan, if you have not previously received a Direct Loan, Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) or Supplemental Loans to Students (SLS) Loan.
  • Master Promissory Note (MPN)
    The Master Promissory Note, commonly referred to as MPN, is a document that must be signed in order to receive a federal student loan. The signed MPN binds you to the federal government as a promise to repay the student loan you intend to take out to help cover your educational expenses. The MPN provides valuable information about the rights and responsibilities you have as a borrower.
  • Exit Counseling
    Student who graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment status are required to Exit Counseling. The Direct Loan Exit Counseling will explain your rights and responsibilities as a Direct Loan Borrower. Exit Counseling provides important information to prepare you for repayment of your federal student loans and will review your borrower rights and responsibilities. You will need to provide the name, address, e-mail address, and telephone number for your closest living relative, two references who live in the U.S., and current or expected employer (if known).