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Student Loans - Financial Regulation

Last reviewed or updated: January 13, 2022

Many individuals and families use student loans to pay for the cost of school tuition and other higher education related expenses. Borrowing money for higher education requires careful consideration; unless there are extenuating circumstances, student loan debt stays with you until it is paid in full.

There are two federal student loan programs through the U.S. Department of Education: the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program and the Federal Perkins Loan Program.

The U.S. Department of Education is a direct lender through the largest federal student loan program: the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program. The four types of loans available under the Direct Loan program are as follows:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans: available to undergraduate students demonstrating financial need to help pay for higher education costs at colleges or career schools.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans: available to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, regardless of financial need.
  • Direct PLUS Loans: available to graduate and professional students or parents of dependent undergraduate students to help pay for education expenses not covered by other financial aid.
  • Direct Consolidation Loans: allows you to combine all eligible federal student loans into one loan with one loan servicer.

The Federal Perkins Loan Program is a program where the school is the lender and is available to undergraduates and graduate students with exceptional financial need.

Federal Student Aid has additional information and answers to questions about the student loan process and eligibility. Federal Student Aid also has more information for you and your family if you would like to apply for federal financial aid and need help filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

The CFPB has answers to questions about paying off student loans and repayment programs.

Visit the Maryland Student Loan Ombudsman page for additional resources.