The Federal Direct Subsidized Loan is a student loan that is available to undergraduate students only. The Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan is a student loan that is available to undergraduate, graduate, and pharmacy students. Loan funds come directly from the U.S. government.

How to Apply

First, the student must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and meet the eligibility requirements. Then, the student must follow the steps below.

New Students/First Time Borrowers at Notre Dame

  1. Go to and log in using your FSA user ID.
  2. Choose the option Complete Counseling (Select Entrance Counseling).
  3. Choose the option Complete Master Promissory Note (MPN) (Select Subsidized/Unsubsidized for the loan type).

Information Needed for the Master Promissory Note Process

  • Permanent Address and Phone Number
  • E-mail Address (optional, but recommended to receive e-mail confirmation of your E-MPN submission)
  • Full Legal Name and Social Security Number
  • Driver's License Number (if applicable)
  • Two References (complete name, addresses, and telephone numbers)
    • References must have known you for at least three years.
    • One reference should be a parent or legal guardian if available.
    • The references must be two different people at different addresses within the United States.

For help with, you may call 1-800-557-7394.

Returning Students

There are no steps required to renew Federal Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized loans for students who received this type of loan at Notre Dame during the previous academic year.

What Happens Next

The Office of Financial Aid will receive confirmation of the completed loan application steps above and will process the loan(s) for the maximum eligibility unless you request otherwise. You will be notified by email when the loan(s) are processed and when the funds disburse.

Loan Cancellation Policy

View cancellation policies for new and current students.

Subsidized vs. Unsubsidized Loans

Your Federal Direct Loan award may be Subsidized, Unsubsidized or a combination of the two.


  • This loan is only available to undergraduate students. 
  • This loan is awarded for the academic year and is based on your financial need, dependency status and academic grade level.
  • Financial need is determined by your cost of attendance your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) from the FAFSA and any other aid you will receive.
  • The federal government subsidizes or pays the interest on the loan while you are enrolled at least half-time, in an eligible period of deferment, and during grace periods (The subsidy during grace periods is not available for loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2012, and before July 1, 2014).


  • This loan is awarded based on your cost of attendance minus any other aid you will receive, your dependency status and your academic grade level.
  • You are responsible for the interest on this loan from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full. The federal government DOES NOT subsidize the interest on this loan.
  • You may choose to defer the interest during enrollment and deferment periods, but it will be capitalized (added to the principal amount).

Loan Limits for Each Year

In addition to the information below, please note that a new provision is in place that affects first-time borrowers:

  • Once the borrower has received Direct Subsidized Loans for a period that is 150% of the published length of the borrower's current education program, the borrower is no longer eligible for Direct Subsidized Loans.
  • A first-time borrower who loses eligibility for additional subsidized loans loses interest subsidy on subsidized loans received on or after July 1, 2013 if the borrower did not complete the program AND continues enrollment in the program OR enrolls in another program of the same of shorter length.
  • Subsidized Loan Time Limitation

For students enrolled as regular students in eligible programs, annual Federal Direct Loan limits are as follows:

Dependent Undergraduate Students
  Base Amount (Sub/Unsub) Additional Loan (Unsub) Total
First-year $3,500 $2,000 $5,500
Sophomore $4,500 $2,000 $6,500
Junior $5,500 $2,000 $7,500
Senior $5,500 $2,000 $7,500
Independent Undergraduate Students & 
Dependent Undergraduate Students Whose Parents
 Cannot Borrow PLUS
  Base Amount (Sub/Unsub) Additional Loan (Unsub) Total
First-year $3,500 $6,000 $9,500
Sophomore $4,500 $6,000 $10,500
Junior $5,500 $7,000 $12,500
Senior $5,500 $7,000 $12,500
Students Pursuing Teacher Certification
  Base Amount (Sub/Unsub) Additional Loan (Unsub) Total
Independent $5,500 $7,000 $12,500
Dependent $5,500 $2,000 $7,500
Graduate & Pharmacy Students
  Total Unsub Loan
Graduate Students (pursuing Master's or Ph.D degree, CASE program) $20,500
Pharmacy Students $33,000
Cumulative Total Loan Limits

Federal regulations set aggregate, or total, loan limits in addition to the annual loan limits. You cannot borrow more than the aggregate loan limit for all subsidized and unsubsidized loans at all schools.

Aggregate Loan Limits

  Maximum Subsidized Maximum Combined (Sub & Unsub)
Dependent Undergraduates $23,000 $31,000
Independent Undergraduates $23,000 $57,500
Graduate/Professional Students $65,500 $138,500
Certain Health Professional Students (i.e. Pharmacy) $65,500 $224,000