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Federal loans

Federal loans are an option for funding your education.

You must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to be considered for any of the following federal loans:

  • Federal Direct Subsidized Student Loan.
  • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Student Loan.
  • Federal PLUS (Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students).
  • Federal Graduate PLUS (Federal Loans for Graduate Students).

*For the 2024/25 academic year, students cannot complete the Master Promissory Note (MPN) or Loan Entrance Counseling until May of 2024.

*The PLUS Loan for graduate students and parents for the 2024/25 academic year cannot be applied for until May of 2024. 

Federal stafford direct loan program

Under this program, students borrow money directly from the federal government without going through a private lender. Students do not have to complete a separate loan application; all loans may be consolidated under one Direct Loan servicer. Loan proceeds are deposited directly into student accounts each semester. Repayment of the loan principal begins six months after the student no longer attends school on at least a half-time basis.

Enrollment criteria

Students must be enrolled at least half-time: undergraduate (six credit hours per semester); graduate students (five credit hours per semester).

Types of loans

Federal Direct Subsidized Student Loan: “Subsidized” means the federal government pays the interest on undergraduate loans while the student is enrolled in school and during deferments (postponements of repayment). Undergraduate students must show financial need to receive this type of loan. The interest rate for 2023-2024 is fixed at 5.50 percent.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Student Loan: “Unsubsidized” means the federal government does not pay the interest while the undergraduate or graduate student is in school, during the grace period, or in deferment. Undergraduate and graduate students qualify for an unsubsidized loan regardless of financial need. Students are responsible for paying the interest on this loan quarterly or may choose to capitalize on the interest. Interest rates for undergraduate unsubsidized loans are fixed at 5.50 percent for 2023-2024. The graduate unsubsidized interest rate is fixed at 7.05 percent for 2023-2024.

Federal PLUS Loan (Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students): These loans are non-need-based loans for parents with good credit histories who want to borrow for their dependent students. Under this program, parents can borrow up to the total cost of education minus other expected financial assistance. Parents may choose one of two repayment options: (1) defer payments on a PLUS loan until six months after the date the student ceases to be enrolled at least half time, pay accruing interest monthly or quarterly, or allow interest to be capitalized quarterly, or (2) begin repaying both principal and interest while the student is in school. Interest begins to accumulate at the time the first disbursement is made. Repayment begins within 60 days after the second disbursement of the loan. The 2023-2024 Federal Direct PLUS Loan interest is fixed at 8.05 percent.

Federal Graduate PLUS (Federal Loans for Graduate Students): The PLUS Loan program has been modified to allow graduate students to borrow a PLUS loan. This program is for students in graduate-level programs only. Students must file the FAFSA to be considered for a Grad PLUS. The OSFA must determine any unsubsidized eligibility before a Graduate PLUS loan can be processed. This loan is a non-need loan for students with good credit histories. Applicants may borrow up to the cost of attendance minus other financial assistance. Students will receive an automatic deferment while enrolled at least half-time. The Grad PLUS is not a subsidized loan; consequently, interest will accrue beginning with the first disbursement of the loan. Federal Direct Grad PLUS Loan interest rate for 2023-2024 is fixed at 8.05 percent.

Loan origination fee subsidized/unsubsidized loan

  • First disbursement on or after October 1, 2020 and before October 1, 2024 1.057 percent.
  • First disbursement on or after October 1, 2019 and before October 1, 2020 1.059 percent.

Loan origination fee PLUS - Parent and Graduate

  • First disbursement on October 1, 2020 and before October 1, 2024 4.228 percent.
  • First disbursement on October 1, 2019 and before October 1, 2020 4.236 percent.

Federal direct student loan limits

Maximum subsidized and/or unsubsidized loan amount for a full academic Year

Credit Hours Earned: Dependent Student | Independent Student

  • Freshman (0-25): $5,500 | $9,500
  • Sophomore (26-55): $6,500 | $10,500
  • Junior (56-85): $7,500 | $12,500
  • Senior (86 +): $7,500 | $12,500
  • Graduate/Professional: N/A | $20,500

NOTE: Your loan limit cannot exceed your cost of attendance minus other financial aid you receive.

Cumulative limits

Subsidized (need-based) loans
  • Undergraduate Study $23,000
  • Graduate Study (prior to 7/1/12) including loans for Undergraduate $65,500
Subsidized loans plus unsubsidized (non-need-based) loans
  • Dependent Undergraduate Student $31,000
  • Independent Undergraduate Student $57,500
  • Graduate or Professional Student, including loans for Undergraduate Study $138,500
  • Medical Students $224,000

Alternative loans

Why would I need an alternative loan?

If the financial aid a student receives from CMU will not be enough to cover the costs to attend, the student and their parent(s) can decide to pursue other loan options. Unlike Federal Direct Loans, alternative loans are private supplemental loans that are NOT guaranteed by the federal government. These loans can supplement federal aid for creditworthy students and their families.

More About Private Non-Federal Loans