Stafford Loan

A Stafford Loan is a student loan offered to eligible students enrolled in accredited American institutions of higher education to help finance their education. The terms of the loans are described in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (with subsequent amendments), which guarantees repayment to the lender if a student defaults.

In 1988, Congress renamed the Federal Guaranteed Student Loan program the Robert T. Stafford Student Loan program, in honor of U.S. Senator Robert Stafford, a Republican from Vermont, for his work on higher education.

Because the loans are guaranteed by the full faith of the US Government, they are offered at a lower interest rate than the borrower would otherwise be able to get for a private loan. On the other hand, there are strict eligibility requirements and borrowing limits on Stafford Loans.

Students applying for a Stafford Loan or other federal financial aid must first complete a FAFSA. Stafford Loans are available to students directly from the United States Department of Education through the Federal Direct Student Loan Program (FDSLP, also known as Direct).

No payments are expected on the loan while the student is enrolled as a full- or half-time student. This is referred to as in-school deferment. Deferment of repayment continues for six months after the student leaves school either by graduating, dropping below half-time enrollment, or withdrawing. This is referred to as the grace period.

Stafford Loans are available both as subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Subsidized loans are offered to students based on demonstrated financial need. The interest on subsidized loans is paid by the federal government while the student is in school and during authorized deferment. For unsubsidized Stafford Loans, students are responsible for all of the interest that accrues while the student is enrolled in school. The interest may be deferred throughout enrollment. Unpaid interest that is deferred until after graduation is capitalized (added to the loan principal).

The Budget Control Act of 2011, eliminates subsidized Stafford loans for graduate and professional students effective July 1, 2012. Unsubsidized Stafford loans will still be available to these students.

Read more about Stafford Loan:  Interest Rates, See Also

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