Federal Family Education Loan Qualifications/Requirements

Federal family education loans are available through the Federal Family Education Loan Program, often seen written as FFEL. It is a partnership between the federal government and public and private lenders who offer government-backed education loans to qualifying students and their parents.

Loan Programs Available Through FFEL

Federal family education loans are available through four loan programs. These programs and their various features include:

  • Stafford Loans - A subsidized interest rate with interest paid by the government during the time the student is in school.
  • Unsubsidized Stafford Loans - Also has a subsidized interest rate but the interest is not paid during the time the student is in school.
  • PLUS Program - This program is for Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students and can be offered to parents of qualifying dependent children.
  • Consolidation Loans - This is a single loan which pays off more than one other federal student loan. These may not be combined with private student loans.

Qualifying for the Program

Federal family education loans are open to any individual who meets the requirements of the particular loan program of interest. For both Stafford Loans and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, applicants must be accepted for enrollment in an undergraduate, vocational or graduate program, and must be at least half-time students.

The PLUS program covers the same institutions - graduate, undergraduate and vocational schools - but applicants must be parents of students accepted for enrollment on at least a half-time basis.

To apply for a consolidation loan, the applicant must currently have student loans, and they must be repaying them; in a grace period; or, if in default, have a repayment plan accepted by the lender.

Award Amounts for Each Program

All four programs for federal family education loans were funded last year by the federal government at a total of more than $56 million. The maximum award varies with each program.

Stafford Loan applicants can receive up to $8,500 with the average loan being about $3,700. The Unsubsidized Stafford Loan maximum award is much higher, $20,500. However, the average award is only slightly higher than the average for the the subsidized program, about $4,700.

The PLUS Program is available for the amount above the cost of the school the student is attending minus other aid he or she receives. The average award is $11,500.

Finally, consolidation loans average almost $30,000.

Applying for FFEL

You can apply online for federal family education loans through the FAFSA program, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

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