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Financial Aid & Scholarship Office

Federal Direct Stafford Loans

Stafford Loans, through the Direct Loan program, are for undergraduate, credential and post-baccalaureate students enrolled at least half-time. The loans you receive will be either subsidized, unsubsidized, or a combination of both.

  • A subsidized loan is awarded on the basis of financial need. Interest on subsidized loans is paid by the federal government while a student is enrolled at least half-time.
  • An unsubsidized loan is not awarded on the basis of need. You will be charged interest from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full. You may opt to allow the interest to accumulate while you are in school or during other allowable periods of nonpayment. This interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan, and additional interest will be based on that higher amount.

Note: If your interest is capitalized, it will increase the amount you have to repay. You can choose to pay the interest as it accrues; if so, you will repay less in the long run. View Loan Term and Financial Management Information for explanation of loan terms.

See Stafford Loan Limits for loan eligibility. You may apply for additional loans above the amount you have been offered if you have not reached your annual loan eligibility and cost of attendance.

See Federal Direct PLUS Loans(opens in new window) for information on Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS Loans) and Graduate PLUS Loans for master's degree students.

Interest Rates and Processing Fees

Interest rates for both Direct Stafford and PLUS loans are variable fixed, meaning rates may be adjusted by Congress for each academic year beginning July 1. The rate received will be fixed for the life of the loan. Current and past Direct Loan interest rates are available from Federal Student Aid.(opens in new window)

Interest rates for loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2020 and before July 1, 2021 are:
Interest rates

Direct Subsidized Loans (Undergraduates)


Direct Unsubsidized Loans (Undergraduates)


Direct Unsubsidized Loans (Graduate or Professional Students)


Direct PLUS Loans (Parents and Graduate or Professional Students)


*In 2020-2021 loan origination fees will be deducted by the federal processor as follows:

  • Direct Stafford Loans: 1.059% origination fee if loan was initially disbursed before 10/1/20 or 1.057% if disbursed after 10/1/20. 
  • Direct PLUS and Graduate PLUS: 4.236% origination fee if loan was initially disbursed before 10/1/20 or 4.228% if disbursed after 10/1/20.

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Stafford Loan Limits

Loan amounts for graduating seniors enrolled for one semester only:

- enrolled in fewer than 12 units, loans are prorated down, based on units
- enrolled in more than 12 units, loans are prorated up based on units

First-time Direct Stafford Subsidized Loan borrowers (on or after July 1, 2013) will have a time limitation for subsidized loan eligibility.  In general, the maximum period of time (measured in academic years) that these students can receive a Direct Subsidized Loans is 150% of the published length of their program.  Once a student reaches the Subsidized Loan time limitation, he or she may be eligible for Unsubsidized Stafford Loans only.  Click here for detailed information on calculating Subsidized Loan time limitations(opens in new window).

Annual limits

2019-2020 Direct Stafford Loans for Students

Dependent Undergraduate or PBACAnnual Limit*Aggregate Limit**
Sub & UnsubAdd'l UnsubAnnual Total
First Year (0-29.9 units)$3,500$2,000$5,500$31,000 (no more than $23,000 of which can be subsidized
Second Year (30-59.9 units)$4,500$2,000$6,500
Third Year + (60+ units)$5,500$2,000$7,500
CRED, CCRED$5,500$0$5,500
Independent Undergraduate or PBACAnnual Limit*Aggregate Limit**
Sub & UnsubAdd'l UnsubAnnual Total
First Year (0-29.9 units)$3,500$6,000$9,500$57,500 total (no more than $23,000 of which can be subsidized)
Second Year (30-59.9 units)$4,500$6,000$10,500
Third Year + (60+ units), PBAC, CCRED, CRED, QLGRAD programs$5,500$7,000$12,500
Independent GraduateAnnual Limit*Aggregate Limit**
UnsubAnnual Total
Graduate***$20,500$20,500$138,500 total (undergrad & grad combined)

* Annual limit, or up to the cost of attendance, whichever is less.

**Aggregate limit, or the cumulative limit of Stafford loan allowed for degree program. Undergraduate aggregate limits are different for dependent and independent students. The aggregate limit for graduate students is separate from the undergraduate limit.

***Graduate students will be eligible for unsubsidized loan only. The annual limit for direct Stafford loans for graduate students will be $20,500.

Note: Dependent students whose parents are unable to obtain a PLUS loan may borrow loan amounts equivalent to an independent student.

Click here for the 2020/21 Federal Direct Stafford Loan Application

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Loan Entrance Counseling and Master Promissory Note (MPN)

First–time borrowers of Federal Direct Stafford loans must complete Loan Entrance Counseling(opens in new window) and submit a Subsidized/ Unsubsidized Master Promissory Note(opens in new window) (MPN) before the first loan disbursement may be released. The promissory note is your promise to repay loan funds disbursed to you. You are required to submit only one note during your academic career at CSU, Chico.

If you are required to complete and submit a promissory note, you will receive notification by e-mail, and it will appear on your To Do List in your Student Center. Once you complete these items, they will be removed from your "To Do List" within three business days. 

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Loans are generally released in two disbursements, half in fall and half in spring. One-semester loans have a single disbursement. If you are applying for a loan to help cover additional expenses for one semester, as for study abroad, it is possible to arrange for a one semester loan. Contact the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office to explain your needs.

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Grace Period

Required step when you graduate or leave CSU, Chico:

  • Loan Exit CounselingExit counseling(opens in new window) is required before you leave school to help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a borrower. You will receive information about repayment and your loan servicer will notify you of the date loan repayment begins (usually six months after your graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment). Parent Plus Loan borrowers do not participate in exit counseling.

When you graduate, leave school, or drop below half–time enrollment, you have a set period of time called a “grace period(opens in new window)” that gives you time to get financially settled and select your repayment plan. After your grace period, you must begin repayment on your loans.

Direct PLUS loans do not have a grace period, but borrowers can defer repayment for six months(opens in new window). The repayment period begins when the loan is fully disbursed, and the first payment is due 60 days after the final disbursement.

*Note: If you received a Direct Subsidized Loan that was first disbursed July 1, 2012 or later, you will be responsible for paying any interest that accrues during your grace period. If you choose not to pay the interest that accrues during your grace period, the interest will be added to your principle balance.

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The U.S. Department of Education uses several loan servicers for the Direct Loan Program.  When you receive your first Direct Loan, you will be contacted by your loan servicer. You will be notified by the servicers as to where and when to send payments. There are several repayment plans to help you manage this important financial responsibility. You are responsible for beginning repayment on time even if you don’t receive this information. Failing to make payments on your loan can lead to default. Find more details and examples of repayment amounts at (interactive calculators are also available there). 

If you can’t locate your servicer information or have questions about your loans, you can look up your federal student loan history through the U.S. Department of Education’s National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) at in new window). You will need your FSA ID to access the database.  You can also call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243, TTY 1-800-730-8913).

Additional Contact Information

Federal Student Aid U.S. Department of Education in new window)

Telephone numbers:

Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC): 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243)
Locations unable to access the toll-free service number: 1-334-523-2691

Call Center Hours:
Monday-Friday   8 am - 11 pm Eastern time (ET)
Saturday           8 am - 5 pm ET
Sunday             8 am - 5 pm ET

Direct Loan Servicing(opens in new window)
Toll free: 1-800-557-7394

Direct Loan Consolidation
Toll free: 1-800-557-7394

Loan Links

  • Know your federal financial aid history and locate your loan servicer contact information. The National Student Loan Data System(opens in new window) (NSLDS) is the U.S. Department of Education's central database for student aid. You can review all your federal aid (loans and Pell grants) on this integrated website.

  • Visit in new window) to understand your loan terms and repayment plan for a comprehensive overview of student financial aid.

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