Federal Direct Student Loans are an essential resource for financing your education. Designed to provide students with low-interest loans directly from the U.S. Department of Education, these loans offer favorable terms and flexible repayment options.


What are Federal Direct Student Loans?

Federal Direct Student Loans, often referred to as Direct Loans, are loans provided by the U.S. Department of Education to eligible students and parents to help cover the costs of higher education.

These loans include Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and Direct PLUS Loans

Things to know:








  • When applying for financial aid, you might be offered loans as part of your offer.


  • Student loans can come from the federal government or from private sources such as a bank or financial institution.
  • You can borrow less than your offers and can request more loan funds later if you need to. You should borrow only what you need.

More information on Federal Loan Programs

Borrow Wisely!

Always remember that they are loans that must be repaid. Failure to repay these loans can result in loan default, resulting in many years without the use of credit. To see how borrowing loans will impact you after you graduate, calculate your estimate monthly payment by using this loan calculator.

The following chart shows the annual and aggregate limits for subsidized and unsubsidized loans.

Academic Level Dependent Student  Independent Student 
(0-29.9 units) 
No more than $3,500 may be in subsidized loans
No more than $3,500 may be in subsidized loans
(30-59.9 units) 
No more than $4,500 may be in subsidized loans
No more than $4,500 may be in subsidized loans
Junior or Senior (60+units)  $7,500 
no rmore than $5,500 may be in subsidized loans

No more than $5,500 may be in subsidized loans
Aggregate (or Lifetime) Borrowing Limit for Undergraduates
No more than $23,000 may be in subsidized loans
No more than $23,000 may be in subsidized loans

Subsidized Loans are government insured, long-term, low-interest loans for eligible undergraduate students. The federal government pays the interest on the loan while the student remains enrolled in college at least half-time or more. Repayment begins six months after graduation or separation. The standard repayment period is 10 years, however students can take longer, if needed. Loans for the 2023-2024 award year has an interest rate during repayment of 5.49%.

An undergraduate student may borrow up to $3,500 for the first year of study, up to $4,500 for the second year, and up to $5,500 for the third through fifth years.

Unsubsidized loans are long-term, low-interest loans for eligible undergraduate and graduate students who generally do not qualify for other need-based financial assistance or students who need loan assistance beyond the maximums provided by the subsidized loan program. Students can pay the interest while in school, or defer payments until the loan goes into repayment. Repayment on the loan begins six months after graduation or separation. The standard repayment period is 10 years, however students can take longer, if needed. Loans for the 2023-2024 award year has an interest rate of 5.49%.

A Dependent Undergraduate student may borrower up to $2,000 and an Independent Undergraduate may borrower up to $7,000 depending on academic level.

Aggregate Federal Loan Limits: The combined total of the Stafford Loan and Unsubsidized Stafford loan may not exceed regular Stafford loan limits ($31,000 for undergraduates, $57,500 for independent undergraduates, and $138,500 for combined undergraduate/graduate loan debt).

To receive a parent PLUS loan, you must

Note: Grandparents (unless they have legally adopted the dependent student) and legal guardians are not eligible to receive parent PLUS loans, even if they have had primary responsibility for raising the student.

PLUS loans are government-insured, long-term, low-interest loans for eligible parents of dependent, undergraduate students who generally do not qualify for other financial assistance. Parents may borrow up to the total cost of their dependent student's education minus any other aid for which the students are eligible. Please make sure to start this process well before the Fall payment is due in early August. It usually takes a minimum of seven business days to complete the credit check and Promissory Note needed to secure the loan.

PLUS loans borrowed for the 2023-2024 year have an interest rate of 8.05%. Repayment begins 60 days after the funds are fully disbursed (usually towards the middle of Spring term), and the repayment term is 10 years. Parents have the option of deferring repayment on Parent PLUS loans while the student is in-school and for a six-month grace period after the student graduates or drops below half-time enrollment.

To qualify for a PLUS loan, parents must be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen, have a valid social security number and pass a credit check.

To apply for the PLUS Loan please click on the button below and make sure to complete both the PLUS application and the Master Promissory Note.

Apply for a PLUS loan

For the credit check, parents generally must not have any outstanding tax liens, unpaid judgments, delinquent or defaulted loans, extensive credit card debt, bankruptcy, foreclosure or wage garnishment within the past five years. Parents who cannot pass the credit check may still be able to receive a PLUS loan if they know someone who can pass the credit check and is willing to co-sign their loan.

Dependent students whose parents have been denied a PLUS loan may be eligible to apply for additional Unsubsidized Loan.


Federal PLUS Loan Process

Complete the on-line credit check and application above.

  • If you are unsure about the Loan Amount Requested we will process the loan for the maximum amount for which the student is eligible but you can reduce the amount at anytime.
  • If the parent-borrower is an eligible non-citizen, they must submit a clear copy of both sides of his/her eligible non-citizen documents to the Financial Aid Office.
  • After final approval, the Department of Education will transmit the PLUS funds electronically to the school. PLUS funds are applied towards any outstanding charges on student's account. Leftover funds in excess of charges will be mailed to the parent-borrower. Funds begin disbursing prior to the start of each semester and weekly thereafter.
  • In the case of a PLUS loan denial, the Direct Loan Servicing Center will notify the parent borrower and explain why the credit history was denied. The Direct Loan Servicing center will also provide the name and address of the credit bureau that supplied the credit data. The parent-borrower has the following options: Appeal the decision with the COD Applicant Services at 1-800-557-7394 or Reapply for the loan with an endorser (co-signer) or Student may contact the Financial Aid Office for additional student options.

In addition to the federal loan program, many lenders offer private/alternative educational loans.
If you will be applying for a private loan, be sure to read the terms of the loan, and students will need to complete a FAFSA to determine their eligibility for federal loans first. We strongly encourage students to consider and exhaust their federal loan eligibility before considering  private loans.

You can contact our staff to discuss any concerns you have about loan programs.

Halal Loans These are interest free community loans for Muslims who need assistance with their education.

Federal Student Loans are required by law to provide a range of flexible repayment options, including but not limited to, income-based repayment and income contingent repayment plans, and loan forgiveness benefits which other student loans are not required to do. Federal loans are available to students regardless of income.

We have provided below a list of historical lenders that CMA students have used for the past 2 academic years (2022/2023 and 2023/2024).

This is not a preferred lender list as students have the ability to apply with the lender of their choosing including those not listed below.

Loans are listed in alphabetical order.

Historical Lenders for Cal Maritime Academy Students

BANK OF LAKE MILLS                 555550
CITIZENS BANK                   
COLLEGE AVE                   
LENDKEY                  911007
SALLIE MAE                                    900905
STAR ONE CREDIT UNION                         500413

Please contact the lender directly to confirm current terms and conditions of their loan programs as well as application process.