Federal Education Loans - COLLEGEdata - Pay Your Way
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Federal Education Loans

Federal loans for education have many advantages. They have fixed interest rates for the life of the loan, and you don't have to start repaying them until you are done with college.

Investing in a college education, whether you use savings or loans or work to pay for it, is a smart investment in your future. Loans are an integral part of college financing for most families. Here's what you need to know about federal student loans.

The Two Federal Student Loan Programs

The federal government offers education loans to students and families with and without financial need. All federal education loans are part of the Direct Loan Program, which means the U.S. Department of Education loans the money.


Loan Eligibility Annual Loan Limits
(2018–2019)
Interest Rates
for New Loans
(2018–2019)
Fees
Stafford Loan Undergraduate and graduate students with or without financial need Dependent undergraduates: $5,500 freshman year, $6,500 sophomore year, $7,500 junior and senior years; limits for independent and graduate students are higher 5.05% 1.07%
PLUS Loan Parents of dependent undergraduate students with or without financial need; graduate and professional students with or without financial need Up to the total cost of college for the year, minus any financial aid already received 7.6% 4.27%

Stafford Loans Help All Students

Undergraduate Stafford loans can be subsidized, with interest paid by the government while the student is in college, or they can be unsubsidized, with interest accumulating as soon as the loan is disbursed. Subsidized loans are awarded based on financial need. Unsubsidized loans are not, which means most students will qualify for them regardless of family income.

Direct PLUS Loans Help Parents

Parents of dependent undergraduate students can apply for a PLUS loan. They must be creditworthy and their student must have completed the FAFSA. If parents are turned down for a PLUS loan, their student is eligible for higher Stafford loan limits. PLUS loans have a separate application, which parents can obtain from college financial aid offices and the Department of Education's student aid website.

How to Get a Federal Loan

The first step in applying for a Stafford or Perkins student loan is submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The college will then award the loans based on the student's financial need.

When Federal Loans Aren't Enough

If a financial aid package does not cover all college expenses, there are other loan options. Private lenders offer loans earmarked for education. Since these are not government-subsidized, the interest rates and fees are usually higher than those of federal loans. The student or parents need to be creditworthy to qualify. Some colleges also have their own loan programs.

What's Next?

Note: Financial information provided on this site is of a general nature and may not apply to your situation. Contact a financial or tax advisor before acting on such information.

For Students Age 18 and Older

Have you received a Personal Invitation to apply for a Student Credit card?

Learn how to qualify for a Personal Invitation to apply for a Student Credit Card


1st Financial Bank believes students who pick colleges wisely will also want to learn how to use credit cards wisely.

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COLLEGEdata Dollars (CD$) are points you earn by completing certain COLLEGEdata activities. The maximum number of CD$ you can redeem is 5000. Once you have earned at least 2500 CD$, you can redeem them for $25, which will be provided to you on a Loyalty Card, and once you earn another 2500 CD$, you can redeem those CD$ for a second $25, which will also be provided to you on a Loyalty Card.

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Complete certain COLLEGEdata activities (for example, signing up, starting your Admissions Profile, searching for colleges, calculating your chances for admission, searching for scholarships, updating your Profile with your admission decisions). Each activity is worth a specific amount of points (CD$). You can redeem the points you earn for U.S. Dollars that will be issued to you in the form of a 1st Financial Bank USA Loyalty Mastercard®.

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Here is a full list of COLLEGEdata activities for which you may earn CD$ and the number of CD$ you can earn by completing each activity.*

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