How to Apply for a Stafford Loan?

Learn how to apply to the stafford loan program. Includes information about the difference wetween subsidized and unsubsidized stafford loans.

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Bernie Sanders says, “our student loan programs need some productive reforms. It doesn’t make any sense that we are paying higher interest rates than our housing mortgages or car loans. Education must be affordable. In that crux, we need to think about it and offer something remarkable that smooths out the education process.”

Your college fee is about to due this month, and we can understand how spine-chilling this becomes when it is hard to manage your study with financial constraints.

You don’t need any sledgehammer to crack this nut because Stafford loans can get all of your college fees and expenses covered with an easy yet simple process.

Stafford loan features:

  • you don’t need a good credit score to get the approval of such loans
  • these federal loans have low-interest rates
  • the application process is simple and short

So, you better keep your chin up and get well acquainted with the Stafford loan application tips.

Submitting an Application for Stafford Loans

Check your eligibility

If you'll be joining an accredited program at least half time, and you're a US permanent resident, US national or US citizen, you're probably qualified to apply for Stafford loans.

If you don't meet the citizenship requirements, spend some time to consult with any consultant at your school’s educational funding office anyway. Particular exceptions may sometimes apply. If, for instance, you're a human trafficking victim or a documented refugee, you will be able to get Stafford loans regardless of what your citizenship status is.

Submit your FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is easily available online at This particular form can serve as your application for all forms of federal educational funding, such as Stafford loans.

  1. Fill this form out as accurately as you possibly can.
  2. Add your own tax details if you meet the criteria as an independent student or your family’s tax information if you fall into the dependent category.

It is recommended to submit your FAFSA as soon as possible if you want to do so before you have all your tax information completed, it is fine to estimate.

You will have to provide:

  • Information regarding dependents, including how many family members are in school
  • Information regarding financial savings and other possessions
  • Social security numbers
  • Annual income

Estimate Your Financial Aid Using Your Student Aid Report

If you submitted your Federal loan application online, you'd receive your Student Aid Report within a couple of days (it may take up to a couple of weeks if you presented your Federal loan application on paper).

This financial aid report may include your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is determined using your information on your Federal loan application. Generally, it's the amount of money that the federal government hypothetically expects your family to help with your education.

On the whole, you'll be offered educational funding programs that cover the main difference between the actual annual cost of your education and your EFC. Here is a useful source to compare student loans offers from more than 5 banks and lenders.

Accepting and Understanding the Stafford Loans

Know the Difference Between Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans

The majority of college students receive a combination of Stafford loans:

  • Unsubsidized Stafford Loans: Unsubsidized Stafford loans are granted through your school regardless of the financial need. On the other hand, these financing options aren't as appealing as subsidized ones because the interest rate starts to pile up immediately. In case you don’t make monthly payments during school, then by graduation, you'll have to pay much more than you borrowed.
  • Subsidized Stafford Loans: Subsidized Stafford loans are usually granted based on financial need. They're “subsidized”, meaning that the federal government will pay the interest for you while you're in school, and then for 6 months after the graduation. Quite simply, the interest will start to pile up only after you finish school.

Know About the Constraints on Stafford Loans

Stafford loans aren't unlimited. You'll find both cumulative and annual caps on how much you can easily borrow through these plans, so it is vital that you know the plan and limitations accordingly.

Annual caps start at:

  • $9,500 for independent freshmen
  • $5,500 for dependent freshmen
  • $12,500 for independent seniors
  • $7,500 for dependent seniors
  • $40,500 for medical school students
  • $20,500 for professional and graduate students

However, there are some limitations:

  • Independent undergrads can't be lent more than $57,000 during the period of their programs.
  • Dependent undergrads can't be lent more than $31,000 during the period of their programs.
  • Med school students can't be lent more than $224,000.
  • Professional and graduate school students can't borrow more than $ 138,500.

Submit A Master Promissory Note (MPN)

If you have read the terms and conditions and want to accept your financial loans, you will have to sign and submit your Master Promissory Note through the financial aid office. This particular document signifies a promise to repay the loans right after you graduate.

You only need to sign one Master Promissory Note, unless you transfer schools. If you wish to attend a different program, you will need to resubmit the documents.

Brian Meiggs
Brian Meiggs
Brian Meiggs helps you discover clever ways to pay off student loans, make extra money, save money, be resourceful and stay curious. With over 10 years of experience in the financial industry, Brian has developed a reputation for his in-depth knowledge and practical approach to personal finance. He holds a bachelor's degree in Finance and has been recognized by several industry organizations for his contributions to the field. Brian is passionate about educating people about personal finance and has been featured in several national media outlets, including Insider, AOL, Discover, and Yahoo! Finance. With his unique perspective and proven track record, Brian Meiggs is a trusted voice in the world of personal finance.