The Department of Education offers several Federal Student Aid programs, one of which is the Direct Loan Program. Direct Loans are some of the most common loans used by universities and college students alike, in part because students can borrow money and pay it back all to and from the same place. Direct Loans offer college students an easy, affordable way to borrow money for college. It provides a way for almost anyone to afford the continuation of their educations. However, before understanding exactly what the Direct Loan Program does, it is important to first understand the specifics of the Federal Student Aid programs.
Without a doubt, the Federal Student Aid programs provide the most widely-used means of financial aid for college students. Virtually billions of dollars each year go to funding college educations. Federal Student Aid programs offer everything from grants - which do not have to be paid back - to loans - which much be paid back, along with the interest - to work study programs, which allow students to work during college (usually at the college). In general, the Federal Student Aid programs include but are not limited to: Pell Grants; Stafford Loans offered through either Direct Loans or the Federal Family Education Loan Program; PLUS Loans, available solely for parents and graduate or professional students (these, too, are offered either through Direct Loans or the Federal Family Education Loan Program); consolidation loans, also available through Direct Loans or FFEL; work study programs; Perkins Loans; and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants.
Federal work study programs, Perkins Loans, and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants are also known as Campus-based programs, as they are offered only through individual universities.
Now to focus on Direct Loans, which the United States government offers directly (whereas those loans offered by the Federal Family Education Loan Programs are private loans). As aforementioned, Direct Loans offer Stafford Loans, PLUS loans, and consolidation loans. While receiving Direct Loans are relatively easy, there are a few steps which must be followed. For starters, a student must complete the FAFSA form, after which, the university which the student wishes to attend will create a financial aid package that may include Direct Loans. The student then has to sign a master promissory note, assuming he or she wants to accept the loan.
For the entire life of the loan, the student must make payments directly to the Department of Education. This is because Direct Loans are not sold. A definite pro of Direct Loans is their numerous options for repayment. They have four very flexible repayment plans: standard, extended, graduated, and income contingent. No matter which option a student chooses, they can always go back and change it. Before a student graduates, there are counselors who discuss the repayment options and provisions.
Direct Loans is one of the easiest, most rewarding financial aid programs available today. Their repayment options are second to none and they are very understanding when it comes to unemployment deferrals and the like. Students about to embark on the college experience would do well to check into Direct Loans thoroughly, because they truly do have something to fit every student's financial needs.
Gary Marjani is author of several articles pertaining to student financial aid such as FAFSA , Stafford Loan , Pell Grant , etc.