How to Apply for Federal Direct Stafford Loans:

Step 1: Complete the FAFSA

The FAFSA is required for both subsidized and unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans. By completing the FAFSA, we will automatically determine the student’s eligibility for subsidized and unsubsidized loans and notify them of their eligibility. We will first award the maximum subsidized loan eligibility and before the unsubsidized.

After completing your FAFSA and being awarded, students must take the following steps to receive a federal student loan.

Step 2: Master Promissory Notes

Required for all first-time borrowers. You must have your FAFSA PIN available to use on the website.

An electronic loan application will be created and transmitted to the U.S. Department of Education. First-time borrowers through the Direct Loan program will be directed to complete a promissory note. This can be done electronically. The promissory note is a legal, binding document whereby you agree to repay the loan.

Steps to Complete MPN

Step 3: Entrance Counseling

Required if you have never had a federal student loan. Loan entrance counseling is required of all recipients of student loans. If you have previously had student loan entrance counseling at FMU, you need not do so again. Students who are new to FMU or otherwise have not met this requirement must do so prior to receiving credit for a student loan.

Steps to Complete Loan Entrance Counseling

Changing Loan Amounts

You are encouraged to only borrow needed funds. If the loan approval is more than you desire, you can reduce the amount by emailing the Financial Aid Office at

If you have questions about our loan process, you may contact our office at 843-661-1190.

Additional Information about Direct Loans:

Direct Loans are available for both undergraduate and graduate borrowers. A student must be enrolled in at least a half-time status (six hours for undergraduate; three hours for graduate) in order to receive a Direct Loan. Loan repayment begins six months after graduation or departure from school.
A subsidized Direct Loan is awarded on the basis of financial need, as determined by the results of the FAFSA and other financial aid (such as grants and scholarships) that you receive. You will not be charged interest on the loan while you are in school at least half-time or during grace and deferment periods. The federal government “subsidizes” the interest on these loans.

An unsubsidized Direct Loan is not awarded on the basis of financial need. You will be charged interest on the loan from the time of the first disbursement until it is paid in full. If you allow the interest to accrue (accumulate) while you are in school (or during other periods of nonpayment), it will be capitalized. This means the interest will be added to the original principal amount of your loan, and additional interest will be based on the higher amount. Making interest-only payments while in school will result in a lower amount repaid in the long run.

Francis Marion University’s 2019 Cohort Default Rate (CDR) is 3.5%, which is above the National CDR of 2.3%.  64% of our students hold student loans.  You can find out more information about CDRs for FMU (OPEID# 009226) and for all schools.

Loan Amounts

The maximum amount you can borrow each academic year depends on your grade level and dependency status. See the chart for annual and lifetime borrowing limits. The amounts below are the maximum values — you might not be eligible for the maximum annual amounts because of other financial aid that you receive.

The order below follows this formatting:

Dependent Undergraduate
Independent Undergraduate

(Up to $3,500 subsidized)

(Up to $3,500 subsidized)

$20,500 unsubsidized*

(Up to $4,500 subsidized)

(Up to $4,500 subsidized)

$20,500 unsubsidized*

Third and beyond
(Up to $5,500 subsidized)

(Up to $5,500 subsidized)

$20,500 unsubsidized*

Aggregate Loan Limits
(Up to $23,000 subsidized)

(Up to $23,000 subsidized)


Interest Rates

For all loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2022, the interest rate is as follows:

4.99% for Undergraduate Subsidized and Unsubsidized

6.54% for Graduate Unsubsidized

7.54% for Graduate/Parent PLUS


You may receive a deferment if you are enrolled at least half-time or for unemployment or economic hardship.

There is a 6-month grace period for these loans that starts the day after you graduate, leave school or drop below half-time. You don’t have to begin making payments until your grace period ends.