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What types of federal student loans are available?

Are You Looking for Money? publication

A college education is an investment in your future. While it's best to use as much savings or free financial aid as possible, you may still need to borrow money to pay for your education. Fortunately, federal loans are available to help manage the cost. There are three types of federal loans:


Read our "Are You Looking for Money?" booklet PDF  or contact your financial aid office for more information about federal loans.

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How do I apply for a federal student loan?

To get a federal Stafford loan, you must attend an eligible school at least half-time and be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen. To apply for a federal student loan and other federal aid and grants, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can get the details about the FAFSA by visiting our 'Applying for Aid' page.

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How do I get my loan once my eligibility is confirmed?

If you're eligible for a federal loan, you'll receive a Master Promissory Note (MPN), which is a legal agreement of repayment. You may be eligible to receive multiple loans under one MPN for a maximum 10-year period and you may get your MPN in a paper or electronic format. After your loan is approved, the loan funds are sent to your school.

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How much money can I borrow to help pay for my education?

The amount you can borrow depends on several factors, including your level of financial need, other sources of aid, cost of attendance and the length of your school's academic year. More specific information can be found on the Federal Student Portal's Loan Limit Chart (external link).

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Additional borrowing tips

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If federal loans aren’t enough, what about private loans?

Many lenders offer loans outside the federal loan program called "alternative" or "private" loans. These loans allow students or parents to borrow money to cover the gap between the cost of education and the amount of financial aid received in the form of grants, scholarships and federal student loans. Eligibility requirements, terms and conditions for these loans vary by lender.

Since "alternative" or "private" loans can have higher interest rates and may offer fewer flexible repayment options, borrowers should consider them only after they’ve exhausted all of their federal loan options. Learn more by downloading our publications about private loans.

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