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Student Loans & Eligibility

In general, student loans are loans used to pay for college. It’s important to understand though that there are options and they are very different.

Federal Direct Student Loans

Federal Direct Student Loans are funded by the federal government and made available to students who are eligible to receive federal financial aid. There is no credit evaluation for these loans. To access the loans, you must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

There is a maximum you can receive per year depending on your class year and dependency status:

Year in SchoolDependentIndependent
First-Year Undergraduate Annual Loan Limit$5,500$9,500
Second-Year Undergraduate Annual Loan Limit$6,500$10,500
Third-Year and Beyond Undergraduate Annual Loan Limit$7,500$12,500

You are capped at an aggregate total of $31,000 as a dependent student unless your parent(s) are denied a Parent Plus loan. A Parent Plus loan is a loan parents can apply for through the federal government to help cover the cost of a student’s education. A parent-plus loan is based on a credit evaluation. If the parent is denied, a student is considered an independent student and is eligible for independent student loan limits with an aggregate total of $57,500. Learn more about the difference between a dependent student and an independent student.

Subsidized Verses Unsubsidized Loans

If the information you provide on the FAFSA determines you have a “need” as defined by the federal government, you will be eligible to receive some of your annual loan eligibility as subsidized. That means the interest charges will be paid by the government for you while you are in school. The remaining loan amount will be unsubsidized and the interest will accrue while you are in school.

Private Loans

Private education loans, sometimes called alternative loans, are credit-based loans offered by private lenders to help students bridge the gap between the cost of attendance and the amount of federal, state, and institutional aid that is awarded.

Private loans often require a good credit history and/or a co-signer with a good credit history.  These loans are usually more costly than federal education loans with interest rates and repayment terms that usually are not as advantageous to the borrower.

Queens strongly encourages all students to complete the FAFSA and wait to receive their award from Financial Aid before applying for an alternative loan. Federal loans end up costing less than private loans and should be the first option to consider when borrowing money to finance an education.  

The Office of Student Financial Services will certify an alternative education loan from the lender of your choice if the loan’s eligibility requirements are met. Please note: the maximum alternative loan amount that can be certified is the Cost of Attendance minus any other financial aid received.

For assistance with finding an alternative loan that best meets your needs, we have compiled a list of lenders our students have used over the past 3 years.