Federal Student Loans

Learn more about the Federal Perkins Student Loan and Stafford Student Loan eligibility

Stafford and Perkins student loans are the two main types of federal student loans. They're often mentioned together, can be awarded at the same time, and have a few similarities. But it's also important to understand how they're different.

Stafford Loan eligibility

Stafford Loan eligibility is granted to undergraduate and graduate students who are enrolled at least half-time (generally meaning someone who is registered for at least six hours of coursework) in a participating institution. Subsidized Stafford Loans are awarded based on financial need, and the federal government pays the interest which accrues. Eligibility for unsubsidized Stafford Loans applies to students without regard to their economic need, but the student is responsible for paying all interest. These federal student loans are repaid over a period of between 10 and 25 years, and have a six-month repayment grace period after graduation. The first step in applying for a Stafford Loan is by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Perkins Loan eligibility

Full- or half-time undergraduate and graduate students are eligible for Perkins Loans, based on financial need. These loans are made through your school, and are repaid to the school. The interest rate on these loans varies, and the repayment term is generally ten years. The amounts available for any one student depend on their financial need, the amount of other aid they're being given, and the funds available at their school. These loans carry a nine-month student loan repayment grace period after graduation. Similar to the Stafford Loan, students must complete the FAFSA to apply for a Perkins Loan.


The maximum awarded under a Federal Perkins Student Loan is:

  • For undergraduates, up to $5,500 a year (or a lifetime maximum of $27,500 as an undergraduate)
  • For graduate students, up to $8,000 a year (or a lifetime maximum of $60,000, including undergraduate loans)

Learn more about affordable student borrowing options

After grants, scholarships and federal aid have been maximized, a private student loan is a good option to fill any remaining financing gap. Find out more information about Citizens Bank's Student Loan®. If you still have questions, call a student loan specialist at 1-888-411-0266, and we'll help walk you through the process.

Additional student loan and college planning resources

Certified vs. Uncertified Private Student Loans
What are Federal Loans, and How Do You Get Them?
Using Private Loans to Fill the Financial Gap
What Are Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans?