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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).

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 and 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 is no longer attending 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)

  • 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 2022-2023 is fixed at 4.99 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 to pay the interest on this loan quarterly or may choose to capitalize the interest. Interest rates for undergraduate unsubsidized loan is fixed at 4.99 percent for 2022-2023. Graduate unsubsidized interest rate is fixed at 6.54 percent for 2022-2023.

Loan origination fee Subsidized, Unsubsidized and Graduate Unsubsidized

  • First disbursement on or after October 1, 2021 and before October 1, 2022 1.057 percent.
  • First disbursement on or after October 1, 2022 and before October 1, 2023 1.057 percent.
  • 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 2022-2023 Federal Direct PLUS Loan interest is fixed at 7.54 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 2022-2023 is fixed at 7.54 percent.

Loan origination fee PLUS - Parent and Graduate

  • First disbursement on October 1, 2021and before October 1, 2022 4.228 percent.
  • First disbursement on October 1, 2022 and before October 1, 2023 1.057 percent.

Processing Your Federal Direct Loan(s): All documentation (e.g., verification documentation) required to process your loan(s) must be submitted by the following dates:

  • November 1 Fall Semester loan
  • March 15 Spring Semester or Fall/Spring academic year loan
  • June 1 Summer Session loan

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

Important information for student loan borrowers

Two federal loan programs could drastically reduce your monthly student loan payments and provide loan forgiveness. If you go to, you can get more information about those programs and sign up for email updates. That way, when repayment begins, you’ll already know your options and won’t have to go digging for this article.

One of the federal programs is Income-Based Repayment. It will cap monthly payments at a reasonable percentage of income for borrowers with heavy debt burdens or low incomes and forgive any remaining debt after 25 years. This means that if you’re underpaid, underemployed, or unable to work due to illness, your student loan payments won’t break the bank, and could be as low as $0 a month. The program covers almost all federal loans made to undergraduate and graduate students.

The other program is Public Service Loan Forgiveness. If you are considering a career in public service, such as working for the government, as a public school teacher, or for a nonprofit organization, you might qualify for this program. It forgives remaining federal student loan debt after 10 years of qualifying payments and employment. This means that you can afford to take a job helping others, even if it doesn’t pay well and you have a lot of debt. If you plan to go to graduate school or have debt from graduate school, Public Service Loan Forgiveness could save you thousands of dollars.

More information about both programs, including Frequently Asked Questions and a calculator that estimates your monthly payments, is available at

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