Subsidized vs. Unsubsidized Student Loans

May 5, 2022


To help students pay for their education, students can take advantage of the U.S. Department of Education, which has a direct loan federal program. Through this program, student applicants can be eligible for two kinds of federal student loans, which are subsidized and unsubsidized.

If you are taking the federal loans you can get to fund the cost of college, they are classified into two broad classes: unsubsidized or subsidized. The primary difference between these two types is that Subsidized Direct Loans do not charge borrowers any interest for certain times of deferment. However, Unsubsidized Direct Loans will charge interest for the length of the loan.

What’s a subsidized loan?

Direct Subsidized Loan is a federal loan for students that undergraduate students can qualify for by showing financial need. The U.S. Department of Education offers subsidized loans with interest when the borrower is enrolled at least half-time in school and six months following school completion and deferment periods. They are less costly than Unsubsidized Direct Loans since they don’t have to pay interest within specific periods.

Benefits of federally subsidized student loans

  • The government will cover the loan interest if the student is enrolled during grace and deferment times.
  • The borrower doesn’t have to pass the process of a credit report.
  • A co-signer isn’t required.
  • This interest rate is set and is often less than the private rate.
  • If borrowers have difficulties paying back the loan, they may demand delayed payments.
  • Repayment options based on income might exist.
  • The entire or a portion of the loan may be qualified for the forgiveness subject to certain conditions.

Disadvantages of subsidized federal student loans

  • The borrower must show financial needs. Parents’ income and assets could disqualify a student from receiving a loan subsidized.
  • Students in the graduate and professional levels are not ineligible.
  • The borrowing limits are lower, and the borrower may require a supplement from other loans.
  • The unpaid balances on loans don’t disappear when bankruptcy is filed.

What is an Unsubsidized Loan

Direct Unsubsidized Loans are one type of federal student loan which begins earning interest from the moment the money is distributed at the school you attend. You can choose not to pay the interest while at school and during the grace period of six months. However, any claim not paid is accrued during this period and added to your overall amount.


The Advantages of Unsubsidized student loans

  • Students in the undergraduate, graduate, and professional college students, are qualified.
  • The loans offer Federal student loan advantages like numerous choices for repayment. Unsubsidized loans are accompanied by more significant loan limits than those subsidized.
  • Family members and loanees do not have to prove the need for financial assistance to be eligible.
  • It is possible to delay payments for up to six months following the time you graduate or leave the school (though the interest rate will increase).
  • No credit check is required.

Disadvantages of Unsubsidized Student Loans

  • Unsubsidized loans are liable to an interest rate from the date they are disbursed, even if you’re at school.
  • If the loanee fails to pay the interest due when it is due, it will become capital (meaning the lender will add this to the principal amount).
  • Insolvent loan balances cannot be released when filing bankruptcy.

Subsidized vs. unsubsidized student loans

Unsubsidized and subsidized loans are offered through the direct loan program of the federal government. Suppose you satisfy the financial need criteria to be eligible for subsidized loans. In that case, they will cost less in the long run than you would for unsubsidized loans.

Although the loan you’ve gotten subsidized to study at a university will carry the same interest rates as a loan that is not supported, the interest will not accrue during your time in school and in other times of non-payment. This is why it’s best to pay off all subsidized loans before taking out non-subsidized loans.

These are the significant distinctions between a subsidized and unsubsidized loans for students:


Who can borrow money

Subsidized: Students who are with a minimum enrollment of half time.

Unsubsidized undergraduate, graduate, or professional students enrolled at least half-time.

The maximum period of eligibility

Subsidized: New borrowers who take out loans from July 1, 2013, can get loans up to 15% of the duration of their educational program. This is equivalent to six years for a typical four-year course or three years for a standard two-year degree.


Unsubsidized There is no limitation on the time frame for the loans.

Loan qualifications

Subsidized: you have to show financial need, as determined by the data you provide when you complete an application for free Federal Student Aid, FAFSA.


Unsubsidized: All students are eligible to borrow regardless of financial need.

Loan limits

Limits on loans for subsidized: The annual limits can vary in the same way, but they’re generally less than the unsubsidized loan limits. For instance, a first-year dependent undergraduate student could take out subsidized loans of $3,500 instead of $5,500 for unsubsidized loans. The maximum subsidized loan amount for your entire undergraduate degree is $23,000.

The annual loan limits for unsubsidized loans differ, but they are generally more significant than the subsidized loan limits. The limits are $57,500 for undergraduate students who are not independent or $138,500 for master’s students considered independent. The maximum loan amount for the entire period you’re in school is $31,000 for dependent undergraduates.

Interest rates

The fixed per-year percentage is 3.73 percent for loans disbursed at or after July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022.

Unsubsidized: The APR fixed is 3.73 percent for loans for undergraduates, 5.28% for graduate or professional degree loans, and 6.28 percent on PLUS loans. These rates apply to loans disbursed from July 1, 2021, until June 30, 2022.

What interest is accrued on loans that are subsidized or unsubsidized

While in school

Subsidized The interest will be paid out to the Education Department while you’re enrolled at least half-time in college.

Unsubsidized: Interest starts accruing when the loan is distributed if students attend school.

Grace period

Subsidized: There are no payments due until the initial six months following the time you finish school. It is expected that the Education Department will continue to pay interest throughout this time.

Unsubsidized: The loan payments aren’t due until the initial six-month period following you graduate, but the interest rate will continue to rise. Then it will be capitalized; that is, it is added to the initial amount of money borrowed. It will increase the total amount you’ll have to pay back, as well as you’ll have to pay more interest over time.

During deferment

Subsidized interest is paid to the Education Department during deferment, temporarily allowing you to stop payments.

Unsubsidized The interest continues to accrue during the deferment period. It will be added to the principal amount of the loan.

How do I receive subsidized or unsubsidized loans?

For a federally-funded loan, you must first complete the FAFSA. The report will show the amount of federal aid you’re eligible for. Make sure you consider all grants and scholarships offered in the news, as they’re all free. It is also essential to accept any work-study opportunities before taking out loans. Every year that you’re enrolled, your school will decide the amount you’re allowed to borrow and the kinds of loans you’re eligible for: unsubsidized or subsidized.

In addition, taking on too much loan debt could make repaying difficult once you’ve graduated. It’s recommended only to borrow more than what you anticipate making in the first year after college.

Federal loans are taken out as opposed to private loan

The priority is federal loans. Private student loans typically have higher rates of interest. They require co-signers even if student loan applicants do not have a credit background. The federal government offers both subsidized and unsubsidized loans. It provides more options for repayment and forgiveness than a private loan.

You should only consider private loans if you are still required to bridge a payment gap to pay for college. Examine all options for personal loans and their interest rates and opportunities for repayment and forbearance before you take out a loan.

Frequently Asked Questions about Federal student loans.

What other steps will I have to take to obtain my money?

Start by going to your U.S. Department of Education’s site and completing your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) every year. After the department has processed your application (generally between three and ten days, based on the method you applied), you’ll be issued the Student Aid Report (SAR ).
The SAR provides information about your expected contributions to your family (EFC) and is sent directly to the school(s) listed when filling out the FAFSA application. The school you attend will inform you what types of loans you are eligible for and the amounts you’re permitted to be able to borrow. If you qualify for a federal student loan as part of your Financial aid program, the school’s financial aid officers will be able to tell you what you need to do to receive the loan.

What will I get from the loan?

After your loan has been disbursed, your school will pay out enough funds to cover the cost of tuition, room and board, and any other expenses. Suppose there’s any money left over from the loan proceeds. In that case, your school’s Financial Aid office is expected to reimburse the amount in 14 days to the student. Remember that student loans may only be utilized for legitimate educational expenses.

Can my loan ever be forgiven or discharged?

There are various ways that federal student loans are discharged or forgiven.
Loans eligible for forgiveness can be made via the Loan Forgiveness Program for Public Services Program or industry-specific forgiveness programs (for nurses, teachers, doctors, teachers, and others.) and income-driven repayment programs.
It is possible to get an exemption from student loans due to various causes. Discharge opportunities include Closed School Discharge, Perkins Loan Cancellation and Discharge, Total and Permanent Disability Discharge, Discharge Due to Death, Borrower Defense to Repayment, False Certification Discharge, Identity Theft Discharge, and Unpaid Refund Discharge. Learn more about and apply for an official Federal student loan disbursement at the U.S. Department of Education website.

Can I end my loan if I don’t need it?

You can complete all or a portion of the loan in the first 120 days of the day that your institution paid for the loan. However, you can end your federal student loan only if you take action immediately. If you pay back the money you borrowed before the cutoff date, you will not be held accountable for the cost of interest or loan charges.