Federal Direct Student Loans


Need a loan to help pay for college? The Federal Direct Loan program provides low-interest educational loans to degree seeking students enrolled at least half-time. Learn more about subsidized and unsubsidized loans here.

Students on campus green

The Federal Direct Loan program provides low-interest educational loans to degree seeking students enrolled at least half-time. There are two different types of Federal Direct loans:

  • Subsidized: The federal government pays the interest while the student is in school and during the six-month grace period. This loan is not available to graduate students.
  • Unsubsidized: Interest accrues while a student is in school and during the grace period.

Traditional & Adult Undergraduate Students Only

Direct Subsidized Loan

This loan is awarded to students who demonstrate financial need as determined by the FAFSA. The federal government pays interest on this loan while the student is enrolled in school, at least half-time and pursuing a degree or certificate. The fixed interest rate for the life of the loan is based on the date of the first disbursement. Origination fees are subtracted from the loans by the federal government. Loan funds (without the fees) are evenly split between the terms of enrollment and are disbursed directly to the student’s Northwestern account.

Traditional, Adult Undergraduate, Online & Graduate Studies

Direct Unsubsidized Loan

This loan is non-need based and the student borrower is responsible for the interest which accrues on the loan while enrolled and prior to repayment. The student may choose to make interest payments during the in-school period or capitalize the unpaid accrued interest when repayment begins.

Interest Rates, Fees, and Disbursement

View Interest rates and loan fees for Federal Direct Loans. Origination fees are subtracted from the loans by the federal government. Loan funds (without the fees) are evenly split between the terms of enrollment and are disbursed directly to the student’s Northwestern account.

Loan Authorization Instructions

If you have been awarded a Federal Direct Loan, please follow these steps to accept the award:

  1. Log on to theROCK (only current students can log in with their username and password)
  2. Select the "Finances" tab
  3. Select the "Financial Aid Awards”, then select Aid Year from the drop down menu, and Submit
  4. Select "Accept Award Offer" tab to accept, change, or decline loans.
  5. If you are accepting your first Subsidized/Unsubsidized loan at Northwestern, you must sign the Master Promissory Note (MPN) and complete Entrance Counseling. Log in with your FSA ID, then select and complete both "Complete Loan Counseling (Entrance)" and "Complete Loan Agreement (Master Promissory Note).”

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