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Federal Student Loans

Federal Direct Student Loans

Federal direct student loans are used by many students to help finance educational costs.

A subsidized loan does not accrue interest while you are in school. An unsubsidized loan does accrue interest while you are enrolled.

The amounts vary depending on the student's circumstances and other financial aid. Please contact us to determine your eligibility.

Independent students and dependent students whose parent was denied a PLUS loan may be able to borrow an additional $4,000 each year for their first and second years of school and an additional $5,000 each year for their third and fourth years of school.

Students who do not qualify for the subsidy may still apply and borrow under the unsubsidized program. For unsubsidized loans, interest accrues from the time the loan is disbursed. Students qualifying for the subsidized loan can generally also borrow through the additional unsubsidized program.

Students must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress.

For more detailed information, please visit

Annual Borrowing Limits

The annual maximum loan amounts for dependent undergraduate students are indicated below.

Dependent Student Federal Direct Loan Limits
  Base Eligibility Additional Unsubsidized Eligibility Total Student Loan Eligibility Additional Unsubsidized Loan*
First Year $3,500 $2,000 $5,500 $4,000
Sophomore $4,500 $2,000 $6,500 $4,000
Junior & Senior $5,500 $2,000 $7,500 $5,000

*Independent students or a dependent student whose parent PLUS Loan has been denied may request the additional unsubsidized loan by contacting our office.

Aggregate (lifetime) Borrowing Limits

Dependency Status Maximum Subsidized Maximum Combined Subsidized & Unsubsidized
Dependent undergraduate $23,000 $31,000
Independent undergraduate $23,000 $57,500

The interest rate is fixed for the life of the loan. The rate of a loan is based on when it first disburses. Interest does not accrue on subsidized loans while in school whereas it does for unsubsidized loans. The rate below applies to loans for undergraduates only.

First Disbursed Subsidized/Unsubsidized Interest Rate
July 1, 2022-June 30, 2023                          4.99%  
July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024                           5.5 %

The Department of Education charges origination fees on Direct Loans. Fees are deducted from Direct Loan amounts; therefore, disbursements to tuition accounts are a bit less than the loan amounts being borrowed. A loan’s fee rate is based on when it first disburses.

First disbursed Oct. 1, 2020 through Sept. 30, 2024: 1.057%

First-Time Borrowers

On or after you receive your finalized award letter beginning May 1, go to and complete:

  • Entrance Counseling (this provides information about your rights and responsibilities as a borrower)
  • Master Promissory Note

Smith will be notified electronically after you have completed these requirements.

Loan proceeds are applied to the student's account in two disbursements, one each semester.


Loan repayment begins after separating from school (graduation, withdrawal, leave of absence, leave for approved U.S. study) or dropping below half-time enrollment and a grace period.

The grace period is a period in which payments are not due and that lasts for six months unless reduced or depleted due to a previous separation in enrollment.

Subsidized loans disbursed prior to July 1, 2012 and after July 1, 2014 do not accrue interest during the grace period.  Unsubsidized loans and subsidized loans disbursed between July 1, 2012 and July 1, 2014 do accrue interest during the grace period.

The monthly payment amount is based on the amount borrowed and the payment plan that you select. If a payment is not selected, the default plan is the standard plan with a 10-year repayment period. Payments may not be less than $50 per month, therefore, the standard plan could be less than 10 years depending on the amount borrowed.

Students who have borrowed through the Federal Direct Student Loan programs are required to complete exit counseling if they are no longer enrolled at least half-time. Smith College will be notified electronically when this requirement has been completed. Visit for more information.

Domestic students who have submitted a FAFSA and who would like to borrow a federal direct student loan for the upcoming academic year can submit a request on NetPartner: From the Menu, select Online Fillable Forms.

Loan requests will be processed after financial aid applications are complete and have been reviewed. Once the loan is processed you will receive an email directing you to NetPartner to review and accept all or any portion of the loans offered.