July 2, 2021

What Is An Unsubsidized Student Loans?

Unsubsidized student loans (or direct unsubsidized loans) are federal student loans you can get from the federal government. These types of loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students regardless of financial situation.

Unsubsidized student loans can be expensive because interest rates accrue immediately after disbursement. Your unsubsidized student loan’s interest will accumulate while you are in college, during the loan’s grace period, and during deferment.

Keep reading as we highlight the key details of unsubsidized student loans. We discuss how to get one, who qualifies for one, how much you can get, and how to pay off an unsubsidized student loan.

How To Get an Unsubsidized Student Loan

You must apply for a federal student loan to get an unsubsidized student loan. Getting any federal student loan begins by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Your college’s financial aid department will notify you of the federal student loans you qualify for upon FAFSA submission. They will give you a financial aid award letter, which will include the amount of aid you can get.

You must complete the necessary paperwork, which includes signing a master promissory note. This document is the loan agreement. If you are getting a federal student loan for the first time, you must attend entrance counseling. This step ensures you understand your loan’s terms and conditions.

How To Qualify for an Unsubsidized Student Loan

You must meet the following criteria to apply for an unsubsidized student loan:

  • Citizenship: You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Student Status: You must be enrolled at least half-time as a regular student with good academic standing. You could be an undergraduate student or graduate student taking a degree or certificate program at an accredited school.
  • Financial: You must have no prior student loan defaults. You don’t need to demonstrate financial need to qualify for an unsubsidized student loan. These federal loans are available to students of any financial background.

How Much You Can Get From an Unsubsidized Student Loan

The amount you can borrow from the federal government depends on your school’s tuition, year in school, and dependency status. The following table summarizes the unsubsidized student loan limits:

YearDependent StudentsIndependent Students
First (Undergraduate)$5,500$9,500
Second (Undergraduate)$6,500$10,500
Third and Beyond (Undergraduate)$7,500$12,500
Total Limit (Undergraduate)$31,000$57,500
GraduateN/A$20,500
Total Limit (Graduate)N/A$138,500

How To Pay for an Unsubsidized Student Loan

You can pay for unsubsidized student loans through the following federal student loan repayment plans:

  • Standard Repayment: Fixed monthly payments for ten years
  • Graduated Repayment: Increasing payments every two years for ten years
  • Extended Repayment: Payments throughout 25 years
  • Revised Pay as You Earn: Monthly payments equal 10% of your income. The federal government may forgive unpaid loans after 20 (undergraduate students) or 25 (graduate students) years.
  • Income-Based Repayment: Monthly payments equal 10%-15% of your income. The federal government may forgive unpaid loans after 20 (undergraduate students) or 25 (graduate students) years.
  • Income-Contingent Repayment: Fixed monthly payments of less than 20% of your discretionary income for 12 years. The federal government may forgive unpaid loans after 25 years.
  • Income-Sensitive Repayment: Monthly payments based on your income for 15 years.

Conclusion: What Is an Unsubsidized Student Loan?

Unsubsidized student loans are the most accessible types of student loans. Undergraduate students and graduate students may apply for one regardless of their financial standing.

However, these loans accrue interest immediately after disbursement. Other student loan types accrue interest after leaving school.

Despite its accessibility and potentially expensive price, you can pay off unsubsidized student loans through the different federal student loan repayment plans. Be sure to select an option that you are capable of maintaining throughout the life of your loan. Consider speaking with your school’s financial aid department for advice on your situation.

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