Federal Student Loans

The Federal Direct Loan Program is a loan funded by the federal government to help pay for your education. A student must have a valid Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on file to be eligible for any federal financial aid. A federal student loan is money that you borrow to assist with educational costs that must be repaid with interest. You can borrow less than what is offered to you and you can request more loan funds later (within the same academic year and enrolled at least half-time) if you need it. You should only borrow what you need. Federal student loans offer many benefits compared to other options you may consider when paying for college. Before taking out a loan it is important to understand that a loan is a legal obligation and understand your rights and responsibilities as a borrower.

Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans (Student Loans)

The type and amount of loans you will be offered will be determined by your financial eligibility as calculated by the federal processor, your Dependency Status, and your grade level. Most students receiving loans must be enrolled in at least 6 units to be eligible. Classified and conditionally classified graduate students meet the enrollment requirement with 4 units. For more information on these loans visit the Federal Student Aid - Loans webpage.

Subsidized Loans
These are awarded based on calculated financial need. The federal government pays the interest while you are enrolled at least half-time. For many subsidized Direct Loans, the federal government also pays the interest during the 6-month grace period after you graduate, leave school or drop below half-time enrollment. However, for subsidized Direct Loans first disbursed between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2014, interest will not be subsidized during the grace period. As of July 1, 2013, first-time borrowers of subsidized Direct Loans will have their eligibility for the interest subsidy limited to a period of time not to exceed 150% of the length of the educational program.
Unsubsidized Loans
Unsubsidized loans are for eligible students, regardless of income and assets. You are responsible for paying the interest, but you can have it deferred while you are in college and during the grace period. If you do, the interest will be capitalized, which means that it is added to the principal amount you borrowed. Future interest will be calculated based on the higher loan amount. Therefore, it is to your advantage to pay the interest as you go along, so you will pay less in the long run. You will receive quarterly statements and can choose to pay the amount due or have it deferred.

Interest Rate and Origination Fees

For students not pursuing a master’s degree, the interest rate is fixed at 3.73% for new subsidized and unsubsidized loans taken out for the 2021-22 academic year. There is also a 1.057% origination fee. For students pursuing a master’s degree or post-master's certificate, the interest rate is fixed at 5.28% for unsubsidized loans taken out for the 2021-22 academic year.

How Do I Accept and Complete the Process for a Loan

Read the Viewing and Accepting Your Aid Offer section of the website under the Help Book. Accept your loan offer in your MySSU Portal.

Before you receive your loan funds, you will be required to:

  1. Complete Loan Entrance Counseling, a tool to ensure you understand your obligation to repay the loan; and
  2. Sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN), agreeing to the terms of the loan.

Annual Student Loan Acknowledgement

A student only needs to complete the MPNs and entrance counseling once while enrolled at Sonoma State. However, all borrowers should complete an Annual Student Loan Acknowledgement each year a new federal student loan is accepted at studentaid.gov. The intent of this process is to help borrowers understand how student loans affect their financial future.

If this is the first time accepting a federal student loan, the borrower is acknowledging that they understand their responsibility to repay the loan.

If the borrower has existing federal student loans, they are acknowledging that they understand how much they owe and how much more they can borrow.

Repayment of Loans

Regardless of your loan type, subsidized or unsubsidized, you do not need to begin repaying your loans until 6 months after you have graduated or your enrollment has dropped below half-time. This 6-month period of time is called your grace period. You only get a one-time grace period for existing loans. If you exhaust your grace period and then enroll half-time again, the next time your enrollment drops below half-time, you will enter repayment immediately. Any new loans borrowed during the most recent enrollment period will have a 6-month grace period, but repayment on the original loans will begin immediately. After your first disbursement is made, your loan will be assigned to a servicer. Your servicer's contact information will always be available to you at the Who’s My Student Loan Servicer? page on the studentaid.gov website.

Through your servicer's website you can create an account for online access, find forms, and view repayment information.

Loan Limits

Loans are subject to annual limits set by the federal Department of Education.

Seniors graduating in the Fall semester are subject to proration of their Direct Loan amount, based on the number of their registered units. This is a federal requirement.

Academic Year
Loan Type Maximum Amounts
Grade Level Dependent Independent
Freshman $5,500 (maximum $3,500 subsidized) $9,500 (maximum $3,500 subsidized)
Sophmore $6,500 (maximum $4,500 subsidized) $10,500 (maximum $4,500 subsidized)
Junior/Senior, 2nd Bachelor $7,500 (maximum $5,500 subsidized) $12,500 (maximum $5,500 subsidized)
Credential, Unclassified Grad (taking pre-requisites) $5,500 $12,500 (maximum $5,500 subsidized)
Graduate Students N/A $20,500 (unsubsidized only)

Federal Lifetime Loan Aggregates

  • Total maximum amount of Direct Loans allowed for undergraduates is $57,500, of which no more than $23,000 may be in subsidized funds. Students who are dependent throughout their undergraduate career are further limited to a total maximum amount of $31,000 (no more than $23,000 may be in subsidized funds).
  • Total maximum amount of Direct Loans allowed for master’s degree students is $138,500, of which no more than $65,500 may be in subsidized funds.

Direct PLUS Loans

For information on Direct Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) or Direct PLUS Loans, please visit the Federal PLUS Loans page of our website.

Alternative Loans

For information on alternative loans, please visit the Alternative Loans page of our website.