Graduate Stafford Student Loans

Stafford Loan Benefits
  • Fixed interest rate - 3.86%
  • No payments while in school at least half-time

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The average cost of graduate school has increased nearly 35% in the last 10 years. As a result, graduate financial aid has become increasingly important and the Graduate Stafford loan is the best loan option available. There are two types:

  • Subsidized Stafford Loans are no longer available to graduate students as of July 1, 2012.
  • Unsubsidized Graduate Stafford Loans are not awarded based on financial need. Any eligible student can take out unsubsidized Stafford loans. You will be charged interest from the time the loan is disbursed, to the time the loan is repaid in full.

You may also find that federal financial aid, including the graduate Stafford student loan, may not be enough to completely meet the cost of graduate school. To meet the total cost, consider graduate Plus loans and private graduate loans.

How much can I borrow?

The amount you can borrow is based on the cost of attendance less other financial aid received, your year in school and your status as a student. Independent students may borrow more because they are paying for college by themselves. Students may not always qualify for the maximum amount - check with your financial aid office.

1st Year
2nd Year
3rd and 4th Years (and 5th year, where applicable)
$20,500 - No more than $8,500 can be in subsidized loans
Maximum Total Debt from Stafford Loans: $138,500 - No more than $65,500 can be in subsidized loans.

The graduate debt limit includes Stafford Loans received for undergraduate study.

Am I eligible for this loan?

You must be enrolled at least half time in an eligible program of graduate study. Students not enrolled at least half time might consider a continuing education loan which allows you to borrow to cover the costs of your continuing education.

How can I get this loan?

You first must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or Renewal FAFSA. After the FAFSA is processed your school will review the results and inform you about your loan eligibility. Next you must complete the Master Promissory Note, which is the promissory note for your loan. Your school may require that you complete their form, again - check with your financial aid office.

Can I use a graduate Stafford loan for my Online degree?

Because online degrees are offered at many top institutions that accept federal financial aid, you may be able to use a graduate Stafford loan to pay for your tuition. Contact your Financial Aid office for information on whether they accept degrees from the Federal Direct Loan Program.

What is the interest rate of this loan?

Graduate Stafford loans have been set at a fixed interest rate of 5.41%.

Click Here to Request Stafford Loan Information

Are there any special fees I will pay?

You may be charged up to a 1% default fee and a 1% origination fee. These fees are deducted from the loan balance at the time of disbursement to the school.

When will I get my money?

In most cases, your loan will be disbursed in two installments and sent directly to the school as determined by your financial aid office. Your loan money will be used to pay your tuition and fees. If loan money remains your school will credit your student account or pay you directly.

Can I cancel the loan?

Yes. Your school must notify you in writing whenever it credits your account with your loan proceeds. This notification must be sent to you no earlier than 30 days before and no later than 30 days after, the school credits your account. You may cancel all or a portion of your loan if you inform your school that you wish to do so within 14 days after the date that your school sends you this notice, or by the first day of the payment period, whichever is later. Your school can tell you the first day of your payment period.

What are my repayment options?

The normal repayment for the graduate Stafford loan is 10 years. You may be able to extend repayment by deferring or consolidating your loans. You may choose one of the following plans:

  • Standard Repayment: requires you to pay a fixed amount each month-- at least $50 or the interest that has accrued.
  • Graduated Repayment: sets your payments lower at first and then increases them over time. Each of your payments must equal the interest accrued on the loan between scheduled payments.
  • Income-Sensitive Repayment: bases your monthly payment on your yearly income and your loan amount. Payments may change as your income rises or falls.
  • Extended Repayment: is for borrowers with loans totaling more than $30,000. This plan offers a choice of fixed or graduated payments over a period of up to 25 years.

Other financial aid options

Also consider taking out Graduate Private Student Loans. Graduate private student loans lend up to the total cost of education, do not require the FAFSA and can be used for any education related expense, including computers, books, housing, etc. Scholarships are also a great way to get extra money for your graduate program.

Graduate school statistics taken from US Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics data.