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Financial Aid and Scholarships


Federal Direct Loans

Even though loans are a common way to make college more affordable, it's important to take the responsibility of borrowing seriously. Keep track of your loan debt and the amount that you will have to repay when you graduate.

Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans

Sometimes referred to as "Stafford Loans," Federal Direct Loans are low-interest loans that are designed specifically to support the cost of post-high school education, such as a bachelor's degree or graduate-level degree at the University of South Carolina.

Subsidized loans are only available to undergraduate students, and the U.S. Department of Education pays for the interest accrued on the loan while you are enrolled as a student, and six months after graduation. Unsubsidized loans are available to undergraduate, graduate and professional students, and interest begins accruing on the loan immediately. However, you aren't required to pay for the interest until you complete school.

Federal Direct Subsidized Student Loans

Federal Direct Subsidized Loans are long-term, low interest loans provided through the federal government under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. The loan is available to undergraduate students only. The amount that you are eligible for is limited by your financial need, other aid received and grade level. The FAFSA is required, but our office automatically considers students for the loan through the awarding process. To qualify for this loan, the student must meet the following conditions:

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Student Loans

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans are long-term, low interest loans provided through the federal government under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. The loan is available to undergraduate, graduate and professional students. It is not based on financial need. The amount that you are eligible for is limited by cost of attendance, other aid received and grade level. The FAFSA is required, but the financial aid office automatically considers students for the loan through the awarding process. To qualify for this loan, the student must meet the following conditions:

Interest Rates and Origination Fees

The interest rates of both the Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans are fixed, but they are subject to change each year. That means that once you lock in, your interest rate will not change for the life of your loan. Origination fees are fees associated with the cost of lending a loan. All loans serviced by the U.S. Department of Education are subject to this fee.

Loan Type Origination Fee * Origination Fee** Interest Rate***
Undergraduate Subsidized Loan 1.068% 1.069% 3.76%
Undergraduate Subsidized Loan  1.068% 1.069% 3.76%
Graduate/Professional Unsubsidized Loan  1.068% 1.069% 5.31%
 Direct PLUS Loan  4.272%  4.276%  6.31%

*Effective for loans disbursed between Oct. 1, 2015, and Sept. 30, 2016

**Effective for loans disbursed after Oct. 1, 2016

***Effective for loans disbursed between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017


Annual and Total Aggregate Loan Limits

Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans have annual and aggregate loan limits. Annual loan limits for students are restricted by grade level. Dependent undergraduate students can borrow an overall, or aggregate, amount of $31,000 over their undergraduate career. Independent undergraduate students may borrow up to $57,500. For undergraduate students, only $23,000 of the total aggregate limit can be from subsidized loans. Graduate students and professional students can borrow up to $138,500. A special allowance is made for students in certain health profession programs. Students in certain health profession programs are eligible for up to $224,000.

Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Annual Loan Limits

Grade Level Dependent Student  Independent Student (and dependent students whose parents were denied a PLUS Loan)
Freshman (0-29 credit hours) $5,500 (no more than $3,500 subsidized)  $9,500 (no more than $3,500 subsidized)
Sophomore (30-59 credit hours) $6,500 (no more than $4,500 subsidized)  $10,500 (no more than $4,500 subsidized)
Junior/Senior (60+ credit hours) $7,500 (no more than $5,500 subsidized) $12,500 (no more than $5,500 subsidized)
Graduate/Professional N/A $20,500 (all unsubsidized)


Proration

Loan proration happens when the amount of your loan is adjusted based on your enrollment. Most often, proration impacts undergraduate students applying for fall graduation, but it can also impact other semesters. Federal regulations require the financial aid office to adjust your loan according to your enrollment for the final semester.