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Student Financial Aid

Federal Direct Loan

Federal Direct Loans are federally regulated low-interest educational loans provided by lending institutions. Students must be degree-seeking, enrolled at least half-time (6 hours for undergraduate; 5 hours for graduate) and maintain satisfactory academic progress. Financial need is not necessary, but the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is required. These loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students. Loan repayment begins six months after graduation or departure from school.

Students with federal direct loans must satisfy the United States Department of Education Course Program of Study (CPoS) regulation to remain eligible and receive the full loan amount.

Subsidized vs. Unsubsidized Direct Loans

Subsidized Direct Loans

A subsidized Direct Loan is awarded to undergraduate students only based on financial need as determined by the results of the FAFSA and other financial aid (such as grants and scholarships) received. You will not be charged interest on the loan while you are in school at least half-time or during grace and deferment periods. The federal government “subsidizes” the interest on these loans.


Unsubsidized Direct Loans

An unsubsidized Direct Loan is not awarded based on financial need. You will be charged interest on the loan from the time of the first disbursement until it is paid in full. If you allow the interest to accumulate while you are in school (or during other periods of nonpayment), it will be capitalized. This means the interest will be added to the original principal amount of your loan, and additional interest will be based on the higher amount. Making interest-only payments while in school will result in a lower amount repaid in the long run. 

Loan Amounts

The maximum amount you can borrow each academic year depends on your grade level and dependency status. See the chart for annual and lifetime borrowing limits. The amounts below are the maximum values — you might not be eligible for the maximum annual amounts because of other financial aid you receive.

Maximum Loan Amounts
Year Dependent Undergraduate Independent Undergraduate Graduate
First (0-29 earned hours)
(Including up to $3,500 subsidized)
(Including up to $3,500 subsidized)
(All unsubsidized)
Second (30-59 earned hours)
(Including up to $4,500 subsidized)
(Including up to $4,500 subsidized)
Third and beyond (60+ earned hours)
(Including up to $5,500 subsidized)
(Including up to $5,500 subsidized)
Aggregate Loan Limits
(Including up to $23,000 subsidized)
(Including up to $23,000 subsidized)
(All unsubsidized)

How to Apply for a Direct Loan

The FAFSA is required for both subsidized and unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans. When you complete the FAFSA, we determine your eligibility for subsidized and unsubsidized loans and notify you of your eligibility. We will first process the maximum subsidized eligibility and then unsubsidized. You will be notified of your eligibility through the   iROAR  portal, where you will have the opportunity to accept the full amount offered, reduce the amount offered or decline the offer completely.

To complete the loan process, you will need to:

  • Complete entrance loan counseling at  if this is your first loan at Clemson.

  • Complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) at if this is your first Direct Loan.

  • When notified to do so, accept the loan in the  iROAR  portal (you can cancel or reduce the loan amounts).

Promissory Notes

An electronic loan application will be created and transmitted to the U.S. Department of Education. First-time borrowers through the Direct Loan program will be directed to complete a promissory note. This can be done electronically at The promissory note is a legal, binding document whereby you agree to repay the loan.

Changing Loan Amounts

You are encouraged to only borrow needed funds. If the loan approval is more than you desire, you can reduce the amount by going online under the Financial Aid section of the iROAR portal. On the "Accept Award Offer" tab, you will need to submit your request for reduction in the "Comments" section toward the bottom of the page.