Difference Between A Subsidized And An Unsubsidized Loan

This is a very precise guide on the Difference Between A Subsidized And An Unsubsidized Loan. I will explain everything you need to know before making a decision on whether to borrow a subsidized or unsubsidized student loan.

Education is becoming expensive, college fees are on the rise and this has led students to borrow bigger loans to cover their expenses. Now if you want to apply for student loans you need to understand the difference between Subsidized vs Unsubsidized student loans to make a smarter choice.

Let’s see what is the Difference Between A Subsidized And An Unsubsidized Loan.

What Is a Student Loan?

In simple words, a student loan is a money that you borrow to cover your educational expenses. These loans are designed to help those students who want to further their education but do not have sufficient funds to cover the expenses.

Students get these loans when they apply for financial aid, schools offer different loans in their financial aid package.

Student loans cover the cost of expenses like tuition, books, living, etc. You can only apply for a student loan for your post-secondary education.

What Is The Difference Between Student Loans and Other Loans?

There are many differences that make student loans a better choice, there is a significant difference in the interest rates that apply to student loans.

The interest rate on student loans is considerably lower than other types of loans like car loans or mortgages. To apply for a federal student loan you don’t need to have a credit history. However, if you are applying for a private student loan you might have to show your creditworthiness.

Student loans are also subjected to a tax deduction, this allows you to deduct up to $2,500 in interest paid on federal and private student loans. Students loans are tax deductable and here is how you can do it.

Where to Get Student Loans?

There are two most common ways to get a student loan, the first one is Federal Student loans, these are the loans provided by the government to help students complete their education. You can apply for federal student loans by filling out the government’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The other option is to apply for a student loan from private lenders. These lenders include your banks, credit unions, and online lending platforms. Private lenders may require a credit check before giving a loan. It would be difficult to get a loan from private lenders if you have a bad credit history.

However, there are some legit private lenders that give bad credit loans, you can try them if you don’t have a good credit score. Keep in mind that these lenders may offer you loans with high-interest rates.

What Are Subsidized Student Loans?

A subsidized student loan is money that you borrow from the federal government and you are given a subsidy on it by the government. It has slightly better terms than an unsubsidized student loan.

The government pays interest on the loan on your behalf as long as you are studying at least half time. f you’ve already graduated and put your loans into deferment or forbearance, the government also covers interest on your subsidized loans.

What Are Unsubsidized Student Loans?

Unsubsidized Loans are loans for both undergraduate and graduate students that are not based on financial need. Eligibility is determined by your cost of attendance minus other financial aid (such as grants or scholarships). Interest is charged during in-school, deferment, and grace periods

The key difference between Subsidized vs unsubsidized student loans is that you will have to pay the interest yourself on an unsubsidized loan but the government pays the interest on a subsidized student loan.

Difference Between A Subsidized And An Unsubsidized Loan

Student Loans Subsidized vs Unsubsidized

Student Loans Subsidized vs Unsubsidized: Borrowing Limit

It depends on your school to determine how much loan can you borrow each academic year. Both subsidized and unsubsidized student loans have annual loan limits that are fixed and you can not borrow money above that.

Keep in mind that the actual loan that you receive each academic year may be less than the annual loan limit. These loan limits on both subsidized and unsubsidized loans depend on:

  1. what year you are in school and

  2. whether you are a dependent or an independent student

If you are an independent student whose parents are not eligible for a Direct PLUS Loan, you may be able to receive additional Direct Unsubsidized Loan funds.

This chart shows the annual and aggregate limits of Student loans Subsidized vs Unsubsidized.

Student Loans Subsidized vs Unsubsidized: Eligibility

Following are the eligibility criteria for both subsidized and unsubsidized student loans.

  • For direct loan eligibility, you should be enrolled at least half-time in a school that is participating in the direct loan program.
  • You should be a U.S citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • You should be participating in a program that leads to a graduate degree
  • To get a direct subsidized loan you should be an undergraduate with a financial need.
  • No default in any existing Federal loans.
  • Direct unsubsidized loans are available for both graduate and undergraduate students
  • No financial need proof is required to apply for a direct subsidized loan

Student Loans Subsidized vs Unsubsidized: Application Form

Applying for both subsidized and unsubsidized student loans is easy, all you have to do is fill out the FASFA form and submit it online. Your school will then use this information to check your loan eligibility and the amount of loan that you are eligible to receive.

Student Loans Subsidized vs Unsubsidized: Current Interest Rates

The interest rates on Subsidized vs unsubsidized loans are shown in the picture below

Difference Between A Subsidized And An Unsubsidized Loan

Subsidized vs Unsubsidized Student Loans Time Limit

If you are thinking about whether there is a time limit on how long can you receive dia direct subsidized loan, then the answer is if the first disbursement of your subsidized loan was after July 1, 2021, there is no time limitation on how long you can get a subsidized loan.

Is it Possible For A Borrower To Lose Eligibility For A Direct Subsidized Loan?

Yes, as of June 1, 2021, you won’t be denied Direct Subsidized loans based on your continuing enrollment in a program that extends beyond the 150 percent duration of the program.

If you have lost eligibility for subsidized loans due to the time limit of 150 percent Your eligibility for loans that are subsidized and that are first disbursed on or after the 1st of July, 2021, is restored.

How to Apply for Student Loans: Subsidized Vs Unsubsidized

Step 1: Fill In the FAFSA

The first step to applying for student loans is completing the federal government’s free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is a set of questions regarding the student’s income and their parents’ investment portfolio and other vital issues, such as whether the family has several children attending college at the same in the same.

Based on the information you provide in the questionnaire, the FAFSA will determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). It’s the amount that the government believes you need to be able to pay for college in the coming school year using your resources.

You can fill out FAFSA online. FAFSA online through the official offices of the Federal Student Aid website.

To speed up the process, take the time to round up all the information you have on your account before starting working on the application. It is not enough to complete the FAFSA when your first application for assistance is made, but each year after that, should you want to keep receiving aid.

Step 2: Examine your Financial Aid Offers

The offices for financial aid of the institutions you are applying to will utilize the data you provide on your FAFSA to decide the amount of assistance that will be made for you.

They calculate your needs using the formula of subtracting your EFC and the COA. (COA). Cost of attendance covers tuition, mandatory fees, room and board, and other expenses. You can find it on the websites of most colleges.

To fill that gap between EFC and your COA colleges, create an aid package that could comprise Federal Pell Grants and work-study loans that are paid and loans. Like loans, grants don’t require reimbursement, except in infrequent circumstances.

They are meant for students who have what the government defines as “exceptional financial requirements.”

The award letters may differ from one college to the next, and it’s crucial to examine the two. For loans, you should take a look at the amount each school provides and whether the loan is subsidized or not.

Difference Between A Subsidized And An Unsubsidized Loan

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Like grants, direct-subsidized loans are intended for students with unique financial needs. The advantage of subsidized students’ loans lies in the U.S. Department of Education will pay for the interest when you’re half-time as well for up to six months following your graduation. 

Direct loans that are not subsidized will be available for all families regardless of their financial situation, and the interest starts accruing from the moment you apply. 

Interest and payments on these loans were halted during the recession, but both returned to normal in early 2022. 

Some colleges may give you both unsubsidized and subsidized loans if you are eligible for a loan.

Federal loans come with a range of benefits over loans for students offered by banks and other private lending institutions. They are relatively low-cost fixed interest rates (personal loans typically are characterized by variables) and provide a range of flexible repayment options.

However, the amount you can be able to borrow is not unlimited. For instance, first-year college students can only be able to borrow $5,500, and only $3,500 is allowed to be subsidized loans.

There are also limitations on the amount you can borrow for the duration of your college experience. 

One alternative is the Federal Direct Plus Loan if you require more than this. PLUS loans are designed for parents of students in their undergraduate years (as well as professional or graduate school students).

Plus, loans are more limited – up to the cost of the student’s attendance, minus any other aid the student may receive and are offered regardless of financial need. However, the borrower’s parent is required to undergo a credit screening to verify the creditworthiness of their borrower. 

Also Read: Get Small Personal Loan With Bad Credit

Step 3: Think about Private Student Loans

Another option for those who need to borrow more than what federal student loans offer is to get an individual loan through an institution like a credit union, bank, or other financial institution.

Private loans are accessible in any circumstance, and they can be applied for them by using the forms of the financial institution instead of the FAFSA. For personal loans,

it is necessary to have a high credit score or find someone who has one, for instance, parents or other relatives who will co-sign the loan.

A credit score that isn’t stellar could make it challenging to be eligible for student loans. Private lenders will look at your credit score and income when deciding whether to approve you for a loan.

As an undergraduate student, you may have low credit or none even. Some lenders will offer student loans to those with poor credit.

In general, private loans have higher rates of interest than federal loans. Furthermore, their rates are variable rather than fixed. This adds some uncertainty to the amount you’ll have to pay.

Private loans do not have the flexibility of repayment plans that are offered in federal loans. They do not qualify to consolidate loans through the Federal Direct Consolidation Loan program.

You can refinance your private loan after your graduation, perhaps at a lower rate of interest.

Each school will inform you about the amount of aid they are offering at the time you are officially accepted. It is commonly known as an “award letter. Apart from federal grants, universities could offer money from their own resources, like merit or athletic scholarships.

Step 4: Pick Your School

The amount you’ll need to pay to attend one school or another could not be the primary aspect in deciding on a college. However, it should be at the top of your list of things to consider.

If you graduate from college carrying a tremendous amount of debt, or worse even, accumulating the debt without graduating just a burden that will keep you awake late at night; it can restrict or even hinder your options for your career and lifestyle for the rest of your life.

Consider the possible jobs you’re thinking about in the event that you decide to spend more on the college you want to attend. A career that pays a good beginning pay can put you in a better place to repay your loan and also justify the need to take on additional debt.


Both Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans have their benefits and can be used according to your own personal situation, It is better to analyze your choices first before applying for any loan.

I hope this article provided you with enough information and you have a clear idea of subsidized vs unsubsidized student loans. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.