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Financial Aid

Federal Direct Stafford Loans

The Federal Direct Stafford loan program allows students to borrow low-cost educational loans from the federal government. To be eligible for a Direct Stafford loan, students must be enrolled at least 6 hours (5 hours for the Graduate College and School of Public Health). Repayment of these loans begins 6 months after students leave school or fall below half time enrollment. There are two types of Federal Direct Stafford loans: subsidized and unsubsidized. For more detailed information about Federal Direct Stafford loans, visit the U.S. Department of Education.

Subsidized (Undergraduates Only)

Federal Subsidized Direct Stafford loans are need based loans. They are subsidized, which means the federal government generally pays the interest on the loan while the student is enrolled greater than half-time, but terms do vary based upon the date the loan was borrowed.

Effective July 1, 2013, first-time (students with no outstanding federal loan balance as of July 1, 2013) Direct Loan borrowers are limited in the amount of time they can receive Direct Subsidized Loans. Borrowers may receive Direct Subsidized Loans for no more than 150% of the length of the student's current academic program (i.e. 6 years for a 4-year program). Once a student has reached the 150% time limit, they will not be eligible for any further subsidized loans. If a student has reached the 150% time limit and they continue to enroll, they will lose the interest subsidy on the subsidized loans they borrowed in the past. Students who have reached the 150% time limit will remain eligible for Direct Unsubsidized Loans. The time limit for borrowing subsidized loans will be adjusted to reflect part-time attendance and attendance for only one semester.


Federal Unsubsidized Direct Stafford loans are not need based. Interest begins accruing from the date of first disbursement. You can choose to pay the interest quarterly while in school, or you can allow it to accumulate and be capitalized when repayment begins.

Interest Rates

There are a variety of interest rates for Federal Direct Stafford loans depending on the date of disbursement, subsidized/unsubsidized, undergraduate/graduate and fixed/variable rates. The rates can range from around 3%-8%. See complete interest rate information here.

Origination Fees

There is approximately a 1% origination fee for Federal Direct Stafford loans.

Loan Proration for Graduating Borrowers (Undergraduates Only)

The annual maximum loan amount an undergraduate student may borrow must be prorated when the student is enrolled in a program that is one academic year or more in length, but is in a remaining period of study that is shorter than a full academic year.

Loan limit proration determines the maximum loan amount that a student may borrow for a program or remaining balance of a program, not the loan amount that the student actually receives. In some cases, the actual loan amount that a student is eligible to receive (based on costs, EFC and other aid) may be less than the prorated loan limit.

All loan proration for graduating borrowers will occur after the add/drop period of each semester.

Master Promissory Note (MPN)

First time UIC borrowers of Stafford loans must sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN) agreeing to pay back the loan to the federal government, with interest, according to the terms of the program. You must complete the MPN online here.

Direct Loan Entrance Counseling

Direct Loan Entrance Counseling is REQUIRED for first-time Federal Direct Loan (except Parent PLUS) borrowers. This counseling session and quiz helps students understand their loan responsibilities. Entrance counseling must be completed prior to any Direct Loan (except Parent PLUS) funds being disbursed to your student account. In order to ensure funds are disbursed by the start of school, this should be completed two weeks prior to the start of the semester in which you plan on borrowing your first Federal Direct Loan at UIC.

Direct Loan Exit Counseling

When you leave school, you will be required to complete Direct Loan Exit Counseling which will give you additional information regarding loan repayment.

Annual and Aggregate Limits

Federal regulations limit the amount of Stafford loans you can borrow each academic year and over your entire student career. Limits are listed in the chart below. Please note that other financial aid resources and cost of attendance restrictions might prevent you from borrowing up to the annual limit in any given year.

Annual Limits for Stafford Loans

 Subsidized Combined Annual Maximum (subsidized & unsubsidized)
Freshman (1-29 credit hours)$3,500$5,500
Sophomore (30-59 credit hours)$4,500$6,500
Junior/Senior (60+ hours)$5,500$7,500
Independent Undergraduates  
Freshman (1-29 credit hours)$3,500 $9,500
Sophomore (30-59 credit hours)$4,500 $10,500
Junior/Senior (60+ hours)$5,500 $12,500
Graduate & Professional Students  
Graduate $0$20,500
Pharmacy, Master of Public Health $0$33,000
Dentistry (DDS & IDP only) $0$40,500

Aggregate Limits for Stafford Loans

 SubsidizedCombined Annual Maximum (subsidized & unsubsidized)
Dependent $23,000 $31,000
Independent $23,000$57,500
Graduate & Professional Students  
Pharmacy, Master of Public Health & Dentistry DDS & IDP$65,500$224,000

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