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Loans and Rates

Thumbnail of A Minute to Learn It - Borrowing Student Loans

Direct Loan  

All Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2013, have fixed interest rates. New fixed interest rates are determined each year and apply to all loans first disbursed during the period from July 1 of the current year through June 30 of the following year. 

All Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2006, and before July 1, 2013, have fixed interest rates that are set by law. 

All Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans first disbursed before July 1, 2006,  have variable interest rates. New interest rates for these loans are determined annually and are in effect during the period from July 1 of the current year through June 30 of the following year. 

To find out what your interest rate will be after the payment pause, contact your student loan servicer. 

(General Eligibility)

  • Must complete a FAFSA for the 2023-23 school year
  • Must be actively enrolled in 6 or more units at San Diego City College for each semester.  Any late start classes may delay the loan disbursement. 
  • Must be in Good Standing based on the FA Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards and did not have to appeal
  • The maximum amount for one semester will be one half (1/2) of the annual loan limit

Cohort Default Rate 

A 3-year cohort default rate is the percentage of a school's students who had certain federal student loans enter repayment in a federal fiscal year and then default before the end of the next two fiscal years.  

Fiscal Year

City College







 Loans in this group first entered repayment during the federal fiscal year. 

 The official cohort default rates were calculated and announced to the public during this calendar date 

 The Cohort Default Rates (CDRs) for loans used to attend City College 

Subsidized versus Unsubsidized

Subsidized and unsubsidized loans are federal student loans for eligible students to help cover the cost of higher education at a four-year college or university, community college, or trade, career, or technical school. The U.S. Department of Education offers eligible students at participating schools Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans. 

To qualify, a student must be enrolled in at least six units, demonstrate Satisfactory Academic Progress for Financial Aid Recipients and must demonstrate financial need through the federal methodology using the FAFSA application. To apply for a Federal Direct Loan, students must complete a mandatory loan entrance counseling session. Students must contact the Financial Aid Office or visit the College website for application procedures.

You may complete the entrance counseling session on-line at:

The Financial Aid Office will be notified when the session has successfully been completed. In addition, you must fill out a Loan Request Form from your Financial Aid Office. You must complete an on-line multi-year Master Promissory Note at:

You may also be required to submit an Educational Plan and be enrolled at the campus of your declared major. Please ask your Financial Aid Office for more information. The actual loan amount for which you are eligible will be determined by the Financial Aid Office. Funds will be disbursed twice per loan period.

If you are a first-time student and first time loan borrower, your check will not be disbursed until at least 30 days after the start of the semester. If you have “Late Start” classes, for loan funds to be disbursed, you must be actively attending classes in at least six units.Congress approved a new lifetime limit on Subsidized Direct Loans for subsidized loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2013. Students will be limited to 150% of subsidized loan eligibility based on their program.

What does this lifetime limit mean for students?
The 150% change means students in a four-year program will be eligible for subsidized student loans for the equivalent of six years or three years for students in a two-year
program. The San Diego Community College District is approved as a two-year program. The student who reaches this limitation could continue to receive unsubsidized Stafford
loans if he or she is otherwise eligible (for example, has not run afoul of the school’s satisfactory academic progress requirements, or is in a group that is not eligible for an
unsubsidized loan in the San Diego Community College District). However, if a student reaches the limitation, at that point, the subsidized loans borrowed lose their “subsidized”

What's the difference between Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans?

In short, Direct Subsidized Loans have slightly better terms to help out students with financial need.

Who can get Direct Subsidized Loans?
Direct Subsidized Loans are available to undergraduate students with financial need.

How much can you borrow?
A community college student may borrow up to $3,500 as a first year student and up to $4,500 as a second year student. 

Who will pay the interest?
The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest on a Direct Subsidized Loan:
while you're in school at least half-time, 

  • for the first six months after you leave school (referred to as a grace period), and
  • during a period of deferment (a postponement of loan payments).

*Note: If you received a Direct Subsidized Loan that was first disbursed between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2014, you will be responsible for paying any interest that accrues during your grace period. If you choose not to pay the interest that accrues during your grace period, the interest will be added to your principal balance.

Who can get Direct Unsubsidized Loans?
Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students; there is no requirement to demonstrate financial need.

How much can you borrow?
Your school determines the amount you can borrow based on your cost of attendance and other financial aid you receive.

Who will pay the interest?
You are responsible for paying the interest on a Direct Unsubsidized Loan during all periods.

*Good to know: If you choose not to pay the interest while you are in school and during grace periods and deferment or forbearance periods, your interest will accrue (accumulate) and be capitalized (that is, your interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan).

*For a list of current interest rates and fees, please visit

 *Before submitting your Loan Request Form,

Unsubsidized Loan Categories

The Federal Government does not make a distinction for the Unsubsidized loan program, but we will refer to four different Unsubsidized loans categories to help explain the different eligibility criteria and the different loan processes. The loan categories are:

Students with No Need

Students with no need and who do not qualify for the Subsidized Loan may be eligible for:

  • Up to $3,500 per year - 1st year student
  • Up to $4,500 per year - 2nd year student
  • Students can use the regular loan request form to apply for this Unsubsidized loan
  • No other special action or process needed by student

Dependent/Special Circumstances Unsubsidized

  • Dependent students with a Rejected FAFSA because parents did not or will not provide their information
  • May borrow up to $2,000 per year
  • Students can use the regular loan request form to apply for this Unsubsidized loan

Dependent Additional Unsubsidized

Dependent students can only qualify if their parents cannot borrow a PLUS loan due to various situations

  • May borrow up to $2,000 per year
  • Students must complete Supplemental Loan Counseling and meet all other eligibility criteria
  • 1st year student does not qualify due to Experimental Site Initiative

Independent Additional Unsubsidized

  • May borrow up to $6,000 per year

Alternative Loans

We do not recommend students borrow an alternative loan unless they have no other option.

Alternative loans are private loans that you borrow through a lending institution and are not part of the federal government programs. Alternative loans are more expensive than the federal government Direct Loans and should only be used when all other options have been exhausted. Most lenders do credit checks in order for you to qualify for a loan.

In addition to completing the Alternative Loan application, you will also need to complete a FAFSA application before our office can certify an Alternative Loan application. We take into consideration all other aid you are eligible for including the Federal Direct Subsidized loan and the Federal Direct Unsubsidized loan, if eligible.

Be sure to research all possibilities for scholarships, grants, Work Study, and federal loan programs before borrowing from an alternative loan program. You are always free to choose the lender of your choice. Choose the loan that best suits your needs and remember to borrow only what you need!

Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC)

ECMC is a non-profit company that works with San Diego City College to provide FREE one-on-one counseling to students to avoid defaulting on your student loans. 

Counseling options:

  • Discuss options for manageable repayment
  • Learn important facts about forbearance and deferment
  • Access your balance and know your servicer
  • Discover best practices to manage your loans
  • Guidance if you fall behind on payments or are nearing default
  • Financial literacy resouces

For more information visit ECMC.