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William D. Ford Federal Direct Student Loans

Office of Financial Aid

William D. Ford Federal Direct Student Loans

Federal Direct Student Loans are either "subsidized" or "unsubsidized". The federal government pays the interest on subsidized loans while a student is enrolled for six (6) or more credits. Eligibility for a subsidized loan is based on "financial need". Unsubsidized loans are available regardless of financial need. Interest is charged to the student or the parent, (see PLUS Loans) even while the student is in school. Students may borrow up to the applicable maximum for each "academic year". An academic year at City College is Summer, Fall and Spring.

The average amount of indebtedness, for City College graduates who choose to take out loans, is $21,258.


Approximate Processing Time

Allow two weeks for processing. Your loan application will be reviewed, processed, and electronically transmitted to the federal processor for approval. (Allow two to three weeks if you submit a loan application during registration.)


Loan application deadlines

Summery only July 17th
Summer/Fall December 1st
Summer/Fall/Spring May 1st
Fall only December 1st
Fall/Spring May 1st
Spring only May 1st


Interest Rates

Loans disbursed on or after 7/1/16 and before 7/1/17:

Undergraduate Subsidized - 3.76% Undergraduate Unsubsidized - 3.76%
Graduate Unsubsidized - 5.31% Plus Loan - 6.31%


Loans disbursed on or after 7/1/17 and before 6/30/18:

Undergraduate Subsidized - 4.45% Undergraduate Unsubsidzed - 4.45%
Graduate Unsubsidized - 6.00% Plus Loan - 7.00%

Loan Fees

Loans first disbursed on or after 10/1/17 and before 10/1/18:

Undergraduate Subsidized - 1.069% Undergraduate Unsubsidized – 1.069%
Graduate Unsubsidized – 1.069% PLUS Loan – 4.264%

Undegraduate (Subsidized and/or Unsubsidized) Amounts

The academic year maximums for Subsidized and/or Unsubsidized student loans are:

Undergraduate – Dependent (Any combination of Subsidized and/or Unsubsidized)

Freshman $3,500 Subsidized $2,000Unsubsidized   (Freshman = 0-29.9 credits earned)
Sophomore $4,500 Subsidized $2,000 Unsubsidized (Sophomore = 30-59.9 credits earned)
Junior/Senior $5,500 Subsidized $2,000 Unsubsidized (Junior/Senior = 60+ credits earned)


Undergraduate – Independent* (Any combination of Subsidized and/or Unsubsidized)

Freshman $3,500 Subsidized $6,000 Unsubsidized  
Sophomore $4,500 Subsidized $6,000 Unsubsidized  
Junior/Senior $5,500 Subsidized $7,000 Unsubsidized  

To Apply for a William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan:

Follow the instructions below:

You must:

  1. Login to CUNYfirst
  2. Select "HR/Campus Solutions" from the left menu.
  3.  Navigate to "Self Service" followed by "Student Center".
  4. In the "Finances" section, click the "Direct Loan Processing Form" link.
  • Allow 3-4 weeks for processing.  Applications submitted during registration may take up to  6 weeks to be processed.
  • Information on Federal Direct Loans is available on the CCNY Financial Aid webpage and at
(CCNY Towers residents should submit a photocopy of their "Housing Lease Agreement: after they have submitted a loan application)

Things you need to know about loans:

* For 2017 -2018 federal financial aid a student is considered independent if he or she can answer "Yes" to any one of thirteen questions: (Students may be required to provide supportive documentation.) The first eight questions are:

  1. Were you born before January 1, 1994?
  2. As of today are you married? (answer "Yes" if you are separated but not divorced.)
  3. At the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, will you be working on a master's or doctorate program (such as MA, MBA, MD, JD, Ph.D., Ed.D., graduate certificate etc.?)
  4. Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
  5. Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
  6. Do you have or will you have children who receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018?
  7. Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and receive more than half of their support from you, now through June 30, 2018?
  8. At any time since you turned age 13, were both parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court?

For the other five dependency questions go to: Am I independent?

If you answer "No" to all thirteen questions you a dependent student for federal financial aid purposes.

Dependent students with unusual family circumstances may request to be declared independent. An "Independence Appeal" form is available via the "Printable Office Forms" link.  (Note: The federal government does not consider a student who is "self-supporting" to be an "unusual" circumstance.)


  • All first-time borrowers (no previous Direct loan at any other college) must fulfill the "Direct Loan Entrance Counseling" requirement: Online loan counseling
  • First-time borrowers who have not completed one year of college will receive their first loan disbursement after the 30th day of the semester.
  • Not all students will qualify for the academic year maximum. Total loan amounts cannot exceed the predetermined CUNY "cost of attendance". (For "cost of attendance" examples go to #3 in "Frequently Asked Questions")
  • All other financial aid awards, scholarships and reimbursements will be subtracted from the CUNY "Cost of Attendance", in order to determine a student's Direct Loan eligibility.

Graduate -  (Independent)

1.  Unsubsidized: $20,500 - Graduate students do not have to request an Unsubsidized loan.  When their FAFSA is received and required documents (if any), are received they will automatically be packaged" on CUNYfirst with an Unsusidized loan.  Graduate students will need to "Accept' or "Decline" their loan on CUNYfirst.

Need help to "Accept" or "Decline" an award? View our CUNYfirst guide or watch a Youtube video.

2.  Grad PLUS: This is a credit based, unsubsidized loan for Graduate and Doctoral students.  The current interest rate is 6.31%.  (The new interest rate for 2017-18 will be announced in early June 2017.)  The application can be printed from the "Printable Office Forms" page. Students should submit the completed application to the Financial Aid Office.

Maximum = The CUNY estimated "Cost of Attendance" less all other financial aid. 


Parent PLUS

This is a credit based, unsubsidized loan for parents of dependent undergraduate students.  The current interest rate is 6.31%.  (The new interest rate for 2017-18 will be announced in early June 2017.) The application can be printed from the " Printable Office Forms" page. The completed application should be submitted to the Financial Aid Office.

Maximum = The CUNY "Cost of Attendance" less all other student financial aid.

Click to view Direct Plust Loan Basics for Parents.


Loan Disbursement

When the eMPN has been accepted by the federal processor, a loan payment will be made to the college on the next scheduled [weekly?] disbursement (payment) date. When the college receives the disbursement, the Bursar automatically deducts unpaid tuition and fees and then refunds any leftover loan amount to the student. Loan refunds are disbursed once a week, on Fridays, either via a check sent in the mail or direct deposit into a bank account (according to the student preference indicated in CUNYfirst).

All loan payments (disbursements) are issued by the CUNY Controller's office. Deductions will be made automatically for unpaid tuition and fees. Loan checks will be mailed to the student's address of record unless direct deposit (strongly recommended) or CUNY Scholar card arrangements have been made.


Exit Counseling

Exit counseling provides important information to prepare you to repay your federal student loan(s).

If you have received a subsidized, unsubsidized or PLUS loan under the Direct Loan Program or the Federal Family Education Loan Program, you must complete exit counseling each time you:

  • Drop below half-time enrollment
  • Graduate
  • Leave school

Exit Loan Counseling is completed online at:  The entire counseling process must be completed in a single session. Most people complete counseling in 20-30 minutes.

To complete Exit Counseling you will need:

  • A verified FSA ID
  • Details on your income, financial aid, and living expenses
  • Names, addresses, e-mail addresses and phone numbers of two references, preferably at least one next of kin (close relative).

For a complete and detailed history of a student's loan debt, as well as federal grants received, a student can use their FSA ID to log in to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).


Loan Repayment

Repayment on the student's loans begins six months after either the student’s graduation, termination of attendance, or registration for fewer than six credits while in attendance. 

Useful Resources

Please visit  Federal Direct Loans for more details.


Updated 4/10/18