Federal Direct Student Loans

What are Direct Loans?

Direct Loans are an available resource for students who are enrolled at least half-time (6 credits) and are either subsidized or unsubsidized.

  • Direct Subsidized Loan-a Direct Subsidized Loan is awarded on the basis of financial need. The Federal government makes the interest payment on this loan while you are enrolled in school; therefore, you will not be charged any interest before you begin repayment or during any deferment periods.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loan-a Direct Unsubsidized Loan is not awarded on the basis of need. You are responsible for the interest that accrues on the loan from the time of disbursement until it is paid in full; however, you may elect to capitalize your interest, which takes the interest that accrues during the year and adds it to the principal of the loan.

How much can I borrow?

You may borrow a maximum of $31,000 as a dependent, undergraduate or $57,500 as an independent, undergraduate in the Federal Direct Loan program. As you complete credits, the amount of loan money that you are permitted to borrow increases:

Completed Credits

Dependent Students

Independent Students


$ 5,500 (of which $3,500 can be subsidized)

$ 9,500 *(of which $3,500 can be subsidized)


$ 6,500 (of which $4,500 can be subsidized)

$ 10,500 *(of which $4,500 can be subsidized)

54 or more

$ 7,500 (of which $5,500 can be subsidized)

$ 12,500 * (of which $5,500 can be subsidized)

*Amounts include additional unsubsidized loan funds which are available to independent students and to dependent students whose parents are denied the PLUS loan. Also, please note that lenders can take origination fees ranging from 1%-4% of your loan which is deducted from the amount borrowed.

What is the interest rate?

Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans

  • 4.45% for loans first disbursed between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018
  • 3.76% for loans first disbursed between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017

When does repayment begin?

Repayment begins following the six month grace period, meaning that six months after you graduate, withdraw from the institution or drop below half-time status (less than six credits), you will begin repayment.

How do I apply for the Direct Student Loan?

You can apply for the Direct Student Loan by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Once your financial aid file is complete, we will certify your Direct Student Loan. If you are a first-time borrower, you will need to complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) online. You will also need to complete entrance counseling, which can be done online at StudentLoans.gov.

How do I choose a lender?

The University of Pittsburgh participates in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. This means that all Direct loan borrowers, including students at the Johnstown campus, will borrow Direct Student Loan funds directly from the U.S. Department of Education.