US Federal Direct Loans

Subsidized, Unsubsidized, Grad PLUS and Parent PLUS

Federal Direct Loans are available to students through the U.S. Department of Education in the form of both subsidized and/or unsubsidized loans. Plus loans are loans made to graduate or professional students and parents of dependent undergraduate students to help pay for education expenses not covered by other financial aid. Loans are borrowed money that you must repay.

The SFU US Federal Direct Loan Application for 2021-2022 is now live!

Please review the links below for more information about applying for US Federal Direct Loan funding to attend SFU.

Foundations of US Federal Direct Loans

Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans

Subsidized loans are awarded to undergraduates only based on your financial need.  There is no interest charged on these amounts while you are in school.

Unsubsidized loans are not based on financial need and interest is incurred from the time the loan is disbursed until it is repaid in full.  

See the Office of Federal Student Aid for information on subsidized and unsubsidized loans.

See the US Department of Education's Federal Student Loans: Basics for Students

Grad PLUS and Parent PLUS Loans

PLUS Loans are loans made to graduate or professional students and parents of dependent undergraduate students to help pay for education expenses not covered by other financial aid. The borrower is fully responsible for paying the interest regardless of the loan status. Eligibility is not based on financial need, but a credit check is required. Borrowers who have an adverse credit history must meet additional requirements to qualify.

Federal Student Aid Eligibility Requirements

The Federal Student Aid general eligibility requirements include that you have financial need, are a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, and are enrolled in an eligible degree or certificate program at your college or career school. There are more eligibility requirements you must meet to qualify for Federal Student Aid.

Eligibility for plus loans is not based on financial need, but a credit check is required. Borrowers who have an adverse credit history must meet additional requirements to qualify.

Federal Student Aid Borrowing Limits

The maximum amount you can borrow each year in Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans depends on your program and year of study (year level in your program) and on whether you are a dependent or independent student. The actual loan amount you are eligible to receive for an academic year is determined by SFU with your Cost of Attendance and may be less than the maximum amounts shown in the tables below.

Loan amounts listed below are in USD.

Student/Year

Dependent Students

*see note 1

Independent Students

*see note 2

1st Year Undergraduate 

Annual Loan Limit

$5,500 per year

No more than $3,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.

$9,500 per year

No more than $3,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.

2nd Year Undergraduate

Annual Loan Limit

$6,500 per year

No more than $4,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.

$10,500 per year

No more than $4,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.

3rd Year+ Undergraduate

Annual Loan Limit

$7,500 per year

No more than $5,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.

$12,500 per year

No more than $5,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.

Graduate or Professional

Annual Loan Limit

Not Applicable (all Graduate and Professional degree students are considered independent).

$20,500 per year

Graduate or Professional students can borrow unsubsidized funding. only.

Subsidized and Unsubsidized

Aggregate Loan Limit

$31,000

No more than $23,000 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.

$57,500 for undergraduates

No more than $23,000 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.

$138,500 for graduate or professional students

No more than $65,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans. The graduate aggregate limit includes all federal loans received for undergraduate study.

Grad PLUS and Parent PLUS: there are no set maximums on plus loans. However, a plus loan cannot exceed the Cost of Attendance minus any other aid.

Note 1: Except students whose parent(s) are unable to obtain Parent PLUS Loan

Note 2: Including dependent undergraduate students whose parent(s) are unable to obtain Parent PLUS Loans

Cost of Attendance (COA)

The Cost of Attendance (COA) is an estimate of school-related expenses the student can expect to have for the loan period requested. The COA is composed of the following categories: tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation, loan fees and personal expenses.

Educational Costs + Loan Fees + Living Expenses = COA

Upon receipt of a complete application, your COA is calculated by SFU Financial Aid and Awards.

Your assessment for US Federal Direct Loan funding is based on your COA minus your Expected Financial Assistance (EFA).  Your EFA will include financial resources such as yearly based athletic and merit-based scholarships, bursaries, and awards.

Enrollment Requirements

Students must be in an eligible program and enrolled in a minimum half-time course load for each term funding is required.

Program Half-Time  Three-Quarter Time     Full-Time       
Undergraduate  8 - 11 eligible units    12 - 14 eligible units  15+ eligible units      
Graduate - Per Unit       5 eligible units  6 - 9 eligible units  10+ eligible units           

Graduate students enrolled in a research-based program are considered to be Full-Time if registered in an eligible program for the term.

If your course load falls below the required half-time enrollment or you withdraw completely please visit US Federal Direct Loans: Withdrawing for further information, and contact Financial Aid and Awards as soon as possible.

Ineligible Courses

There are restrictions on the University's ability to offer federal loan funds to students registered in certain courses. Students with ineligible courses may be eligible for a private loan.

Please note the following are not eligible for U.S. Federal Direct Loans:

  • Distance education and/or online courses (see COVID-19 Temporary Exemption March 1, 2020 to June 30, 2022)
  • Courses you are repeating (the course may be considered based on a successful appeal)
  • Co-Op courses (placements, internships, practicums)
  • Courses involving study in the U.S. (with limited exceptions)
  • Any non-degree bearing program (e.g. undergraduate or graduate certificates and diplomas)

If you take any Distance Education and/or an online course as a part of your credentials, you will be ineligible for U.S. Federal Direct Loan funding for the duration of your program. Before enrolling in a Distance Education course, review the following information: US Federal Direct Loans: Distance Education.

Student Responsibilities

It is your responsibility to maintain your eligibility for US Federal Direct Loans.

You must inform Federal Student Aid of any corrections or updates to your original FAFSA that may impact your eligibility as a borrower or the amounts you are eligible to borrow.

You must inform SFU Financial Aid of any changes to your original application that may impact your eligibility as a borrower or the amounts you are eligible to borrow. This would include, but is not limited to:

  • The amount of Estimated Financial Aid (EFA) you received or expect to receive; and
  • ANY changes to your program, registration and/or course load.

Students in receipt of Federal Student Aid while attending SFU must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) to be eligible to continue to receive aid.

You are required to keep up-to-date, consistent contact information with the U.S. Department of Education, SFU and your Student Loan Servicers.

Contact Information Tip

Your address in the NSLDS system would be your permanent (usually a) U.S. address. In the Student Information System, your home/permanent address is where you would enter your permanent, U.S. address (this should match the address you have in NSLDS). Your mailing address in the Student Information System should indicate where you currently live.

National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS): https://nsldsfap.ed.gov/nslds_SA/

SFU Student Information System (SIS): go.sfu.ca

Student Loan Servicers: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/understand/servicers