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Types of Student Loans

Know what you owe. Student loans may come from the federal government or from private sources such as a bank, credit union, or financial institution. Always remember: student loans require repayment with interest.

You may have more than one student loan, and each may be a different type – so it’s very important to understand what types of loans you have. Depending on the loan and when it was disbursed, terms and conditions, interest charges, and fees may be different. Your repayment options and eligibility will also depend on the types of loans you have. Before your loans enter repayment, contact your servicer for assistance.

To review a summary of your federal loan types, total amounts borrowed, loan dates, balances, and outstanding principal and interest, log in to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS)

To learn more about federal student loans, visit the Federal Student Aid website

Tracking my loans

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Use this interactive PDF to track your loans by type, amount owed, interest rate, servicer, and repayment strategies. Keeping your student loan information organized can help you stay on the path to financial success.
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Types of Federal Student Loan Programs

The U.S. Department of Education has several different loan programs for students. These loans are funded by the federal government – in other words, the federal government is the lender. Federal loans usually offer borrowers lower interest rates and have flexible repayment options.

William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program (Direct Loans)

Direct Loans are available to eligible undergraduate and graduate students to help cover the cost of higher education at a four-year college or university, community college, or trade, career, or technical school.

Lender: U.S. Department of Education

Direct Subsidized Loans – For undergraduate students, no interest is charged while you are in school at least half-time and during deferment periods. No interest is charged during the grace period for Direct Subsidized Loans disbursed prior to July 1, 2012 or after June 30, 2014.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans – For undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree students, interest is charged on unsubsidized loans during all periods.

Direct PLUS Loans for Parents – For parents of dependent undergraduate students, interest is charged during all periods. The parent is the primary borrower.

Direct PLUS Loans for Graduate Students – For graduate and professional degree students, interest is charged during all periods.

Direct Consolidation Loans – For borrowers who want to combine their eligible federal student loans into a single loan. No interest is charged on Direct Subsidized Consolidation Loans or Subsidized portions of Direct Consolidation Loans during deferment periods. Learn more about Direct Loan Consolidation.

The Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP)
(Discontinued)

The U.S. Department of Education previously had another federal student loan program, which was discontinued on June 30, 2010. You may have FFELP loans if you borrowed before that date. The FFELP program offered federal student loans to students made by private lenders and insured by guaranty agencies.

Lender: A bank, credit union, finance company, non-profit, or state agency

Late fees: Assessed by most lenders (at lender discretion and subject to your loan's promissory note)

Federal Stafford Subsidized Loans – For undergraduate students, interest is paid on your behalf by the federal government while you are in school at least half-time and during grace or deferment periods.

Federal Stafford Unsubsidized Loans – For undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree students, interest is charged on unsubsidized loans during all periods.

FFELP PLUS Loans for Parents – For parents of dependent undergraduate students, interest is charged during all periods.

FFELP PLUS Loans for Graduate Students – For graduate and professional degree students, interest is charged during all periods.

FFELP Consolidation Loans – For borrowers who combined their eligible federal student loans into a single loan. Interest is paid on your behalf by the federal government on Subsidized portions of FFELP Consolidation Loans during deferment periods.

Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) Program
(Discontinued)

The HEAL Program provided loans made by participating lenders to eligible graduate students in medical and health-related fields. The HEAL Program was discontinued in 1998.

Lender: Various non-federal entities

Late fees: Assessed by most lenders

Federal Perkins Loan Program

Perkins Loans are lower-interest student loans funded by the federal government and administered by schools to undergraduate and graduate students with exceptional financial need. The amount you can borrow depends on your financial need and the availability of funds at the school.

Lender: Your school

Other Types of Student Loan Programs

In addition to federal student loans, you may have loans from other resources to finance your education. Non federal program details can vary greatly, including terms, interest, and repayment options.

Private Student Loans

Private loans are not funded by the federal government, but are made by banks, credit unions, or finance companies. They are primarily used to help students cover school costs above and beyond what can be covered with a federal loan. Unlike federal loans, private loan eligibility requirements, interest rates, and terms vary from lender to lender. For information about repaying private loans, refer to your private loans’ promissory notes and communications from your private loan servicer.

Key differences with private student loans include:

  • Payments may be required while you are in school and during grace/separation and deferment statuses.
  • Interest rates may be fixed or variable, and if it’s variable, it may change as often as monthly.
  • Private loans are not subsidized and interest is charged during all periods.
  • The vast majority of our private loans are qualified education loans for 1098-E reporting.
  • Private loan deferment and forbearance options may be limited.
  • Contact Navient and your other loan servicers to find out what options are available.

Lender: A bank, credit union, or finance company

Late fees: Assessed by most lenders