Stafford loan question - Eligibility?

I’m graduating this December (and all my ducks are in a row for it - as long as I pass the two classes I’m taking that are necessary for it (Intro to Philosophy and Beginning Swimming)), and I’ve got some major expenses to work out, available upon request, but they’re not important for the purposes of this discussion.

My question is this: The government says that I can take out 5500 dollars a year in unsubsidized Stafford loans (Subsidized ones don’t matter to me - my parents make too much money that I never see). I’d like to take out that much (or slightly less) as a loan for the fall, but the school tells me that I can’t take out more than 2750 in one semester, because of Federal regulation. I call bunk, because my roommate is in the same situation, and she is having no problem with it.

I see that I can apply for a Stafford online through a government website. Will this allow me to skirt the school’s imposition on me re:funding, or can the school block it once the government’s let it go through? Or do I have any other recourse, since the director of financial aid herself has told me (via email) that I can’t do anything with my extra availability?

Wouldn’t 5500 a year divided by those 2 semesters give you that 2750?

And turns out I was right. (Warning - PDF)

I’m sorry. I hope working in the dining hall isn’t too tough.

Mr. Moto. I know you probably didn’t mean it the way it could be taken, but at least you gave the kid the right info. The added comment would probably have been better left out, at least in GQ. Maybe he’s up to his ass in debt from school, is working 30 hrs/wk already this Fall while studying, but just figured out what he might need to get through the Fall. No big deal.

samclem, moderator, GQ. Again, no big thing.

Point A, check, point B, yes, two jobs, totalling about 45 hours a week. At least when I start my second job this week.

Also, I read that as meaning that I couldn’t take out the full eligibility based on taking something like 7 hours or something, as in I couldn’t register to graduate, sign up for 7 hours, and then take a whole bunch of loans out.

I know that this either isn’t against the law or the school bends the rule frequently, because, like I said, my roommate goes to the same school and is graduating this fall with me, and is doing the same thing. Also, my boyfriend who graduated last year from the school across the street did exactly the same thing. Have I just POed someone in financial aid?

ETA: Yes, 2750*2=5500, but my situation is more like does 5500/1=5500?

Financial aid is for the academic year, and it’s paid out by semester. So aid for the 2007-2008 academic year would be $5500, but that works out to $2750 per semester. If you graduate in the fall, you lose your aid for the following semester. That’s based on a full-time load; if you take less than a full-time load, you get less money. That is federal law, by the way. (Here is the relevant cite, from the Department of Education, which oversees the Stafford Loan program.)

That said, there are so many different rules and programs that what applies to your friends may not apply to you. Financial-aid offices use the information on your FAFSA to put together a package that may include grants and other kinds of loans in addition to the Staffords. As a practical matter, you can’t fairly compare aid packages; there are too many variables involved.

If it bugs you that much, go talk to a financial aid counselor at your school and ask them to give you a breakdown on your particular package and what other kinds of aid you may qualify for given your own circumstances.


Are you classified as a dependent of your parents? If you are getting no aid from them, can you apply as an independent, therefore having your application solely based on your own income? (obviously you need to make sure they don’t claim you as a dependent and make the changes if they do.)

No, they don’t claim me for taxes, but in order to be independent for FAFSA purposes, I have to be 24, have a kid or be married.