Federal Direct Loan Program

The Direct Loan Program has low interest loans that undergraduates, graduates and parents of dependent students may obtain from the Department of Education. This program includes the Federal Subsidized Stafford Loan, the Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan and the Federal PLUS Loan. These loan programs were created by Congress to help all eligible students and parents, with and without financial need, pay for the student's educational expenses.

Subsidized Loans

There are two types of Federal Direct Loans, subsidized and unsubsidized. Subsidized Loans are given on the basis of financial need. Financial need is determined by subtracting the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC), provided from the FAFSA, from the cost of attendance. If your financial need is not fully met through other forms of aid (including grants and scholarships), you are eligible for Subsidized Loan funds up to the remaining amount of your financial need or up to the loan limits based on your grade level, whichever amount is lower. The Federal Government will pay interest on a subsidized loan while you are in school and during your six-month grace period.

Unsubsidized Loans

If you do not demonstrate financial need, you are eligible for a Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan. If you accept the Unsubsidized Loan, interest will accrue while you are enrolled. You have the option of paying the interest while you are enrolled.

Loan Limits*

Freshmen $5,500
Sophomores $6,500
Juniors $7,500
Seniors/5th Year $7,500
Graduate Students $20,500




*(effective 7/1/2008)

Independent students and students whose parents were denied for a PLUS loan are eligible for additional funding through the Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan program.

Interest Rates**

Current interest rates on all Federal Direct Loans are fixed. Undergraduates receive different interest rates for subsidized and unsubsidized loans; rates for grad students are the same whether the loan is subsidized or unsubsidized.

Subsidized 4.66%
Unsubsidized 4.66%
Subsidized 6.21%
Unsubsidized 6.21%
PLUS Loans  
Parent PLUS 7.21%
Graduate PLUS 7.21%

**Interest rates for loans effective July 1, 2014 - June 30, 2015


Perkins Loan

The Federal Perkins Loan is a "need based", revolving loan fund utilizing both federal and institutional funds. This award is a loan and must be repaid by the borrower. The interest rate is 5.0%, with interest and principal repayments deferred until 9 months after the student graduates or ceases at least half-time enrollment.

Federal Direct PLUS/Graduate PLUS Loans

Plus Loan Basics

Parents of a dependent undergraduate student may apply for a Federal Direct PLUS loan to help meet the student's cost of attendance not covered by other financial aid. Interest rates and repayment provisions on PLUS loans are usually better than other alternative loans available for educational expenses. The FAFSA is required, and parents must submit a PLUS loan request form to the Office of Student Financial Aid.

Credit History

Parents are also required to pass a credit check when they are applying for the PLUS loan. If a parent's application for a PLUS loan is denied based on the borrower's credit history, the student may become eligible for an additional unsubsidized student loan. Freshmen and sophomore students can borrow up to $4000 in a Federal Direct loan, while juniors and seniors could borrow up to $5000.

PLUS loans for Graduate Students

The Federal Graduate PLUS Loan allows Graduate and Professional students to borrow at a low fixed interest rate after the subsidized and unsubsidized loan eligibility has been exhausted. The Graduate PLUS Loan can be used to pay for the total cost of attendance minus any financial aid you've already been awarded. The Graduate PLUS Loan is largely dependent on the borrower's credit rating and history.

Interest Rates

Federal Direct PLUS loans have a fixed interest rate of 6.41%. Interest is charged from the date of disbursement until the loan is paid in full.

Application Process

  • Parents and Students first must fill out the FAFSA
  • The parent borrower submits a Parent PLUS loan request found on the forms & publications page to the Office of Student Financial Aid.
  • The Office of Student Financial Aid will certify the parents/students PLUS eligibility for the amount requested or the maximum eligibility, whichever is less.
  • The federal loan processing center will review borrower’s credit history to determine eligibility.
  • Once the PLUS loan has been approved, the parent will be instructed to sign a “Master Promissory Note via the web at
  • The parent/student must complete the Borrower and Student sections on the Master Promissory Note.
  • The federal government will send the “Notice of Loan Guarantee and Disclosure Statement” to the borrower.
  • The federal government will send loan disbursements to UNC Charlotte in accordance with the disclosure statement schedule.
  • If there are remaining funds available after University charges are paid, you can have these funds sent to you or your student.