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Direct Student Loans – A Helping Hand

Direct student loans, also known as direct loans, are monitored by the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. These direct student loans are designed to help students that have graduated from high school and are continuing their education in colleges, universities or trade schools. Direct student loans are part of the Federal Student Aid program of the Department of Education and are not offered through private lenders or companies. The loan agreement is between the student and the Department of Education, without any agencies in the middle.

Students that want to apply for direct student loans must complete a FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid over the internet and submit all required information and documentation. In addition each student will also have to complete a MPN or master promissory note. This is the document that is the legally binding contract between the student and the Department of Education with regards to how the loan will be repaid as well as the specific terms and conditions of direct student loans. There is additional information available through the Department of Education website that details and fully explains all the terms and legal clauses in the master promissory note.

To be eligible for direct student loans the school must be part of the direct loan program and the student must be enrolled at least part-time. Not all students will receive subsidized direct loans, some will be unsubsidized. Typically students with very few resources and with greater financial needs will qualified for subsidized loans, which means that no interest will be charged on the loan while the student is in school or during the grace period or any deferment time.

Students that are dependent, or have parents that are able to help pay for schooling are eligible for lower direct student loans than students that are considered independent. Independent students may be students that have families of their own to support, have no living parents to assist with educational funding or students that are otherwise without financial support. Graduate students can also apply for direct student loans under the same criteria as applying for a Stafford loan, with some of this total possible being subsidized. Typically graduate direct loans have a limit on the total amount of the loan that can be provided interest free during school, grace periods and deferments.

Direct student loans have a fixed interest rate that is set every July 1st. These loan rates have a cap however there is also a loan fee that can be up to 4% of each direct loan. This fee is used to offset the cost of the program for future students.

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