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Federal Direct Stafford Loans

How To Apply

Stafford Loan applicants must complete a 2018-19 FAFSA and Caltech's 2018-19 Stafford Loan Request form.  The Stafford Loan Request form is available through My Financial Aid on access.caltech, under the "Forms" tab.


Stafford Loans may be awarded to students who are eligible for Federal Student Aid (most domestic students).  To receive a Subsidized Stafford Loan, you must also have unmet financial need. Unsubsidized Stafford Loans can be awarded regardless of need. 

Interest Rate

The interest rates on Stafford loans are now linked to the yield on the 10-year Treasury Note.  This means that economic factors will determine the interest rates for loans borrowed in any given year.  The interest rates on these loans are fixed, and will not change after the loan has been disbursed.  The table below shows the current interest rate, along with rates from the recent past. 

Academic Year Interest Rates
Subsidized Unsubsidized Graduate Unsubsidized
2018-19 5.05% 5.05% 6.60%
2017-18 4.45% 4.45% 6.00%
2016-17 3.76% 3.76% 5.31%
2015-16 4.29% 4.29% 5.84%
2014-15 4.66% 4.66% 6.21%
2013-14 3.86% 3.86% 5.41%
2012-13 3.40% 6.80% 6.80%
2011-12 3.40% 6.80% 6.80%
2010-11 4.50% 6.80% 6.80%
2009-10 5.60% 6.80% 6.80%
2008-09 6.00% 6.80% 6.80%

Stafford loans are also subject to a loan fee, which is a percentage of the loan amount.  Loans are assigned a fee percentage based on the date their first disbursement is made.  

First Disbursement Made Loan Fee
Oct. 1, 2018 - Sep. 30, 2019 1.062%
Oct. 1, 2017 - Sep. 30, 2018 1.066%
Oct. 1, 2016 - Sep. 30, 2017 1.069%
Oct. 1, 2015 - Sep. 30, 2016 1.068%
Oct. 1, 2014 - Sep. 30, 2015 1.073%
Dec. 1, 2013 - Sep. 30, 2014 1.072%

Borrowing Limit

Undergraduates: The annual borrowing limit varies based on a student's year in school and dependency status. 

Dependent Students:

Year in School Total Eligibility Maximum Subsidized
1st Year $5,500 $3,500
2nd Year $6,500 $4,500
3rd & 4th Year $7,500 $5,500
Aggregate $31,000 $23,000

Independent Students:

Year in School Total Eligibility Maximum Subsidized
1st Year $9,500 $3,500
2nd Year $10,500 $4,500
3rd & 4th Year $12,500 $5,500
Aggregate $57,500 $23,000

Graduates: $20,500 in Unsubsidized Stafford Loans per year, up to $138,500 total.  The aggregate limit includes all Stafford Loans received for undergraduate study, and can be made up of no more than $65,500 in Subsidized Stafford Loans. 


Interest does not accrue on Subsidized Stafford Loans while a borrower is enrolled in school at least half-time, during a grace period or during an authorized deferment. The borrower will be responsible for paying interest that accrues while the loan is in repayment or on forbearance.

Interest will accrue on Unsubsidized Loans at all times, though interest will not need to be paid until the grace period is over. 


Stafford Loans have a grace period of six months, starting when a borrower stops attending school at least half-time.  During this grace period, interest does not accrue and no payments are required.  Once the grace period is over, the loan will need to be repaid. Stafford Loans are repayable over a period of ten years, though the repayment term may be extended up to 25 years. 

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