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Financial Aid

Federal Direct Loans for Students

Federal Direct Loans are low-interest loans provided by the federal government that can help you pay your college expenses.

There are two types of federal Direct Loans for students:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans: You must have financial need to qualify for subsidized loans. New loans disbursed after July 1, 2013 have a fixed interest rate of 3.86%.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans: Financial need is not necessary to qualify for these loans. New loans disbursed after July 1, 2013 have a fixed interest rate of 3.86%.

Both types also have a loan fee that’s 1.051 percent of the total loan amount.

There are two key questions you should consider before taking out a loan:

  • What will my monthly payments be when I start repaying the loan?
  • How long will it take me to repay the loan?

To help you answer these questions, the federal government provides calculators that let you look at costs and schedules under various payment plans.

Annual & Lifetime Federal Direct Loan Limits

The Federal Direct loan programs carry both annual and cumulative (lifetime) limits. These limits are based on your grade (class) level and your dependency status as determined by your FAFSA.

Annual Limits

Maximum
Subsidized + Unsubsidized
Maximum
Subsidized
Dependent Freshman* $5,500 $3,500
Dependent Freshman* $6,500 $4,500
Independent Freshman* $9,500 $3,500
Independent Sophomore** $10,500 $4,500

* Students with less than 31 earned hours are considered to be a Freshman.
** Students with 31 or more earned hours are considered to be a Sophomore.

Lifetime Limits

Maximum
Subsidized + Unsubsidized
Maximum
Subsidized
Undergraduate $31,000 $23,000
Independent Undergraduate $57,500 $23,000

What happens if I reach my lifetime limit?

If you reach your lifetime loan limit, you cannot receive any more Federal Direct student loans. Therefore it is to your advantage to borrow only what you need for educational expenses, and to keep track of your cumulative debt.

You can look up your loan history online using the National Student Loan Data System.

How to Apply

To apply for a Direct Loan for students, follow these steps:

  1. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  2. If the financial aid award letter you receive from WCC includes an offered loan amount and you wish to apply, visit MyWCC to begin the loan process. Click on Financial Aid, then Loan Information, and then Federal Direct Loan Application. If you’re a first-time borrower at WCC, you’ll be directed to a list of open Entrance (Loan) Counseling sessions. You must complete one of these sessions, which will walk you through the Direct Loan process and explain your rights and responsibilities as a borrower, before you can complete the loan application.
  3. Register for at least six credit hours in a program that’s eligible for financial aid.
  4. Watch your WCC email. The Financial Aid office will send you information about your loan after your application is processed.

Your financial aid award letter will list the amount of loan money for which you qualify. If you don’t need this much to pay your expenses, you can borrow a smaller amount.

For More Information

Lots more information about Direct Loans for students is available at the Direct Loan Page for Students from the federal government.

Check Your Aid

To check the status of your financial aid, log into MyWCC, click on Financial Aid, and then click on Check Your Financial Aid Status.

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