How Much Federal Student Loan Can I Get? Here Are the Amount Breakdowns

Here Are the Loan Amount Breakdowns

Whether you are a freshman or an upperclassman, the Federal Direct Student Loan is available to you to help pay for college. The Federal Direct Student Loan is a loan for an amount for each of the four years you attend your undergraduate program and comes in two forms: Subsidized and Unsubsidized. Here are the amounts students can receive under each type of federal loan:
Year Total Amount Total Subsidized Amount
Freshman $5,500 $3,500
Sophomore $6,500 $4,500
Junior $7,500 $5,500
Senior $7,500 $5,500
Total $27,000 $19,000

Difference Between Subsidized and Unsubsidized Student Loans

Any student, no matter their financial standing and family income, can receive the unsubsidized portion of the federal student loan (which can be the total amount if you do not qualify for a subsidized student loan.) The subsidized portion of the Federal Direct Student Loan is need based and is for students that qualify from a financial and income standpoint.
If you qualify, the federal government will pay the interest on your loan while you are in school and interest will not begin to accrue until 6 months after the student leaves school. This is like “free” money and, if you choose to take a loan, probably the most financially attractive loan you could take out. If you have taken out an unsubsidized Direct Student Loan, interest will begin to accrue as soon as the loan is disbursed, but you still do not need to begin paying back the principal and interest for this loan until 6 months after you leave school.

Interest Rates on Federal Direct Student Loans

The interest rate on these loans are updated and set each year by Congress and will vary depending on the current interest rate. Typically, the interest rates are lower than what a student could get through almost any other avenue. The Federal Direct Student Loan is truly the student’s loan and is not co-signed by anyone.

How to Get a Federal Direct Student Loan

In order to receive either a subsidized or unsubsidized Federal Student Loan, you need to complete the FAFSA (Free Application For Student Aid), the government student loan application, which becomes available on October 1 of each year. The school will offer you the Direct Student Loan through your financial award letter and you will need to accept this loan in order for it to be disbursed and applied to your college bill.

You will also need to go through online Federal Student Loan Counseling, which will take about 45 minutes and is there for the purpose to educate you on understanding the meaning of taking a loan and what you can expect once you need to begin to repay it. You only need to go through this counseling once, the initial time prior to taking your first federal student loan. You will also need to sign a promissory note for each Federal Direct Student Loan you take, each year, prior to your loan being disbursed. Interest begins to accrue once the loan is disbursed and the principal and interest that has accrued need to begin to be paid back 6 months after you leave college.

Although the total amount of the Federal Direct Student Loan is typically a smaller percentage of the total investment in your college career, it does provide assistance to help in paying for your college education. My hope is that the federal government chooses to increase the amount of this loan to help our students who want to attend college, but that story has still yet to be written, if ever.

Looking for help with the college financial aid process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.

Contact us at or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students in person, through Zoom, over the phone and by email.