Federal Direct Loans

The Federal Direct Loan Program offers low interest rate loans (subsidized or unsubsidized) directly from the Department of Education to students. Eligibility is determined using information provided in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Students can submit a loan request at Alamo Colleges online through the ACES portal; click HERE for a tutorial.


Federal Direct Loan – Subsidized
  • Must have financial need as determined by the FAFSA
  • Must be enrolled at least half-time
  • Must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
  • Must not exceed annual or lifetime aggregate loan limits
  • Interest does not accrue as long as you are enrolled at least half-time, during six-month grace period, or during active deferment periods
Federal Direct Loan – Unsubsidized
  • Not based on need
  • Must be enrolled at least half-time
  • Must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
  • Must not exceed annual or lifetime aggregate loan limits
  • Interest starts accruing once loan is disbursed
  • Student may pay on interest while in school, grace period, deferment/forbearance, but it is not required. Any unpaid interest that accumulates during this time will be capitalized and added to total amount owed, also known as the loan principal, at time of repayment
Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan
  • Offered to qualified parent of a dependent, undergraduate student with financial aid eligibility
  • Student must be enrolled at least half-time and be meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
  • Parent must have good credit history, no defaulted student or parent loans, and be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
Completing the Federal Direct Loan Process

Completing the Federal Direct Loan Process (Subsidized/Unsubsidized):

  1. Complete ALL outstanding financial aid requirements, including verification.
  2. View the Direct Loan Eligibility page for all terms and conditions.
  3. Check the Priority Dates and Deadlines page for application submission timeframes.
  4. Submit the Direct Loan request through your ACES account.

Tutorial: How to apply for a Federal Direct Loan via ACES

Completing the Federal Parent PLUS Loan Process:

Completing the Federal Parent PLUS Loan Process:

  1. Download the fillable PDF here and submit to your home campus.
  2. Parents who borrow a Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) are subject to the following regulations:
    • The Entrance Counseling Session is required for parents who are initially declined a PLUS Loan but eventually gain approval with a cosigner. Go to for details.
    • All searches for a PLUS Loan cosigner must be exhausted before the dependent student may borrow additional Direct Loan funds. The statement available here is required to be on file with the Student Financial Aid Office before the dependent student is awarded additional loan funds.
    • Parents may use a completed Master Promissory Note (MPN) on as the PLUS Application. It is advisable, however, to confirm the arrival of the MPN with the Student Financial Aid Office at your college.


Alternative Loans

Alternative student loans are funded by private lending institutions and are not based on need.
We highly recommend that you apply for financial aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before you apply for an alternative loan as they may offer more benefits.

Some important facts about alternative loans:

  • The amount borrowed cannot exceed your Cost of Attendance (COA) minus other financial aid.
  • Alternative loans are primarily used to supplement the federal programs when federal aid and scholarships do not meet the cost of attendance.
  • Alternative loans are based on a student’s credit history and often require a cosigner.
  • These loans cannot be certified across academic years.

Application Process:
Due to Federal Lending Laws, student loan lenders are required to provide multiple disclosures to the borrower and to collect a Self-Certification Form from the borrower. The lender will also request eligibility certification from the Alamo Colleges District. Please plan ahead as this process will take several weeks to complete.

What is the difference between a grant and a loan?

Loans are different from grants in that the student is required to pay back all loan money that is borrowed.

Is there a time limit for borrowing loans?

For first-time borrowers on or after July 1, 2013, there is a limit on the maximum period of time the student can receive Direct Subsidized Loans. Students may not receive Direct Subsidized Loans for more than 150% of the published length of their chosen program. Students enrolled in a two-year associate degree program may receive Direct Subsidized Loans for up to 3 years (150% of 2 years = 3 years).

What if I fail to repay my loan?

Students who fail to repay their loans are considered to be in default of their loan payments and are not eligible to receive future aid until the default status is either rehabilitated or paid in full. For more information regarding the consequences of defaulting on a Direct Loan visit the FSA Collections website.
Students who are determined to have defaulted on loan payments obtained while at Alamo Colleges will be contacted by the Cennate i3Group. Cennate i3 is the only organization affiliated with Alamo Colleges for loan default purposes.

Can I apply for a Summer Loan?

Yes, summer loan requests may be submitted as soon as your summer financial aid request has been processed and eligibility determined.