The interest rates on federal student loans are among the lowest interest rates available to college students. Even with a creditworthy cosigner, interest rates on private student loans are generally higher than those on federal student loans.

Traditional college students have thin or non-existent credit scores and do not have enough income to satisfy minimum income thresholds and maximum debt-to-income ratios. More than 90% of private student loans to undergraduate students and 75% of private student loans to graduate students require a creditworthy cosigner.

Federal student loans currently provide fixed interest rates that do not change throughout the life of the loan, although each year’s fixed interest rates may be different. From the mid-1980s through the mid-2000s, however, interest rates on federal student loans were variable and could be locked in as a fixed rate through consolidation. Before then the interest rates were fixed.

The interest rates on federal student loans have, at times, depended on the degree level (undergraduate vs. graduate), borrower (student vs. parent), type of loan (subsidized vs. unsubsidized), loan program (FFEL vs. Direct Loan) and loan status (in-school and grace periods, repayment period, deferments and forbearances).

Interest rates on Federal student loans reset annually on July 1, based on the last 10-year Treasury Note auction in May. Previously the interest rates were pegged to the 91-day T-Bill, 12-month T-Bill or Constant Maturity Treasury (CMT).

Interest Rates on Federal Stafford Loans

This table shows the historical interest rates on Federal Stafford loans to undergraduate students since 2006-2007.

Academic Year

Fixed vs. Variable

Subsidized

Unsubsidized

2020-2021Fixed

2.750%

2.750%

2019-2020Fixed

4.529%

4.529%

2018-2019Fixed

5.045%

5.045%

2017-2018Fixed

4.45%

4.45%

2016-2017Fixed

3.76%

3.76%

2015-2016 Fixed

4.29%

4.29%

2014-2015Fixed

4.66%

4.66%

2013-2014Fixed

3.86%

3.86%

2012-2013Fixed

3.40%

6.80%

2011-2012Fixed

3.40%

6.80%

2010-2011Fixed

4.50%

6.80%

2009-2010Fixed

5.60%

6.80%

2008-2009Fixed

6.00%

6.80%

2007-2008Fixed

6.80%

6.80%

2006-2007Fixed

6.80%

6.80%

 

This table shows the historical interest rates on Federal Stafford loans to undergraduate students from 1992-1993 through 2005-2006.

Academic YearFixed vs. VariableIn-School and
Grace Periods
Repayment
Period
2005-2006Variable

4.70%

5.30%

2004-2005Variable

2.77%

3.37%

2003-2004Variable

2.82%

3.42%

2002-2003Variable

3.46%

4.06%

2001-2002Variable

5.39%

5.99%

2000-2001Variable

7.59%

8.19%

1999-2000Variable

6.32%

6.92%

1998-1999Variable

6.86%

7.46%

1997-1998Variable

7.65%

8.25%

1996-1997Variable

7.65%

8.25%

1995-1996Variable

8.25%

8.25%

1994-1995Variable

7.43%

7.43%

1993-1994Variable

6.22%

6.22%

1992-1993Variable

6.94%

6.94%

 

This table shows the historical interest rates on the GSL, a predecessor to the Federal Stafford loans.

Effective Dates

Fixed vs. Variable

GSL

7/1/1988 to 9/30/1992Variable

12M T-bill + 3.25%, 10% Cap

9/13/1983 to 6/30/1988Fixed

8%

1/1/1981 to 9/12/1983Fixed

9%

prior to 1/1/1981Fixed

7%

 

This table shows the historical interest rates on Federal Stafford loans to graduate students since 2006-2007.

Academic Year

Fixed vs. Variable

Subsidized

Unsubsidized

2020-2021Fixed

NA

4.300%

2019-2020Fixed

NA

6.079%

2018-2019Fixed

NA

6.595%

2017-2018Fixed

NA

6.00%

2016-2017Fixed

NA

5.31%

2015-2016 Fixed

NA

5.84%

2014-2015Fixed

NA

6.21%

2013-2014Fixed

NA

5.41%

2012-2013Fixed

NA

6.80%

2011-2012Fixed

6.80%

6.80%

2010-2011Fixed

6.80%

6.80%

2009-2010Fixed

6.80%

6.80%

2008-2009Fixed

6.80%

6.80%

2007-2008Fixed

6.80%

6.80%

2006-2007Fixed

6.80%

6.80%

 

This table shows the historical interest rates on Federal Stafford loans to graduate students from 1992-1993 through 2005-2006.

Academic Year

Fixed vs. Variable

In-School and 
Grace Periods
Repayment 
Period
2005-2006Variable

4.70%

5.30%

2004-2005Variable

2.77%

3.37%

2003-2004Variable

2.82%

3.42%

2002-2003Variable

3.46%

4.06%

2001-2002Variable

5.39%

5.99%

2000-2001Variable

7.59%

8.19%

1999-2000Variable

6.32%

6.92%

1998-1999Variable

6.86%

7.46%

1997-1998Variable

7.65%

8.25%

1996-1997Variable

7.65%

8.25%

1995-1996Variable

8.25%

8.25%

1994-1995Variable

7.43%

7.43%

1993-1994Variable

6.22%

6.22%

1992-1993Variable

6.94%

6.94%

 

Interest Rates on Federal PLUS Loans

This table shows the historical interest rates on Federal PLUS loans, both Parent PLUS and Grad PLUS loans, since 2006-2007.

Academic Year

Fixed vs. Variable

Direct

FFEL

2020-2021Fixed

5.300%

NA

2019-2020Fixed

7.079%

NA

2018-2019Fixed

7.595%

NA

2017-2018Fixed

7.00%

NA

2016-2017Fixed

6.31%

NA

2015-2016 Fixed

6.84%

NA

2014-2015Fixed

7.21%

NA

2013-2014Fixed

6.41%

NA

2012-2013Fixed

7.90%

NA

2011-2012Fixed

7.90%

NA

2010-2011Fixed

7.90%

NA

2009-2010Fixed

7.90%

8.50%

2008-2009Fixed

7.90%

8.50%

2007-2008Fixed

7.90%

8.50%

2006-2007Fixed

7.90%

8.50%

 

This table shows the historical interest rates on Federal Parent PLUS loans from 1992-1993 through 2005-2006. Federal Grad PLUS loans were not available prior to July 1, 2006.

Academic Year

Fixed vs. Variable

Direct

FFEL

2005-2006Variable

6.10%

6.10%

2004-2005Variable

4.17%

4.17%

2003-2004Variable

4.22%

4.22%

2002-2003Variable

4.86%

4.86%

2001-2002Variable

6.79%

6.79%

2000-2001Variable

8.99%

8.99%

1999-2000Variable

7.72%

7.72%

1998-1999Variable

8.26%

8.26%

1997-1998Variable

8.98%

8.98%

1996-1997Variable

8.72%

8.72%

1995-1996Variable

8.98%

8.98%

1994-1995Variable

8.38%

8.38%

1993-1994Variable

6.64%

6.64%

1992-1993Variable

NA

7.36%

 

This table shows the historical interest rates on the SLS, a predecessor to the Federal PLUS loans.

Effective Dates

Fixed vs. Variable

GSL

7/1/1987 to 9/30/1992Variable

12M T-Bill + 3.10%, cap 11%

11/1/1982 to 6/30/1987Fixed

12%

10/1/1981 to 10/30/1982Fixed

14%

1/1/1981 to 9/30/1981Fixed

9%

 

Historical Interest Rate Formulas

This table shows the interest rate formulas and caps on the interest rates for Federal Stafford loans.

Date Disbursed

Fixed vs. Variable

Interest Rate Formula

Cap

7/1/2013 to presentFixedUndergrad: 10-Year Treasury Note + 2.05%

Grad: 10-Year Treasury Note + 3.60%

8.25%

9.50%

7/1/2006 to 6/30/2012FixedInterest rates ranged from 3.4% to 4.5%
to 5.6% to 6.8% for subsidized loans to
undergraduate students. All other interest
rates were 6.8%.

NA

7/1/1998 to 6/30/2006Variable

In-School/Grace: 91-day T-bill + 1.7%

Repayment: 91-day T-bill + 2.3%

8.25%

7/1/1995 to 6/30/1998Variable

In-School/Grace: 91-day T-bill + 2.5%

Repayment: 91-day T-bill + 3.1%

8.25%

7/1/1994 to 6/30/1995Variable

91-day T-bill + 3.1%

8.25%

10/1/1992 to 6/30/1994Variable

91-day T-bill + 3.1%

9.00%

 

This table shows the interest rate formulas and caps on the interest rates for Federal PLUS loans.

Date Disbursed

Fixed vs. Variable

Interest Rate Formula

Cap

7/1/2013 to presentFixed

10-Year Treasury Note + 4.60%

10.50%

7/1/2010 to 6/30/2012Fixed

7.9%

NA

7/1/2006 to 6/30/2010Fixed

DL: 7.9%

FFEL: 8.5%

NA

7/1/1998 to 6/30/2006Variable

91-day T-bill + 3.1%

9.00%

7/1/1994 to 6/30/1998Variable

CMT + 3.1%

9.00%

10/1/1992 to 6/30/1994Variable

CMT + 3.1%

10.00%

 

Historical Fees on Federal Student Loans

This table shows the historical loan fees on Federal Stafford and Federal PLUS loans. The loan fees since 2013 are due to sequestration increasing the baseline loan fees.

Year

Federal Stafford Loan

Federal PLUS Loan

2020-2021 (10/1/20-9/30/21)1.057%

4.228%

2019-2020 (10/1/19-9/30/20)1.059%

4.236%

2018-2019 (10/1/18-9/30/19)1.062%

4.248%

2017-2018 (10/1/17-9/30/18)1.066%

4.264%

2016-2017 (10/1/16 – 9/30/17)1.069%

4.276%

2015-2016 (10/1/15 – 9/30/16) 1.068%

4.272%

2014-2015 (10/1/14 – 9/30/15) 1.073%

4.292%

2014-2015 (7/1/14 – 9/30/14)1.072%

4.288%

2013-2014 (12/1/13 – 6/30/14)1.072%

4.288%

2013-2014 (7/1/13 – 11/30/13)1.051%

4.204%

2012-20131.000%

4.000%

2011-20121.000%

4.000%

2010-20111.000%

4.000%

2009-20101.500%

4.000%

2008-20092.000%

4.000%

2007-20082.500%

4.000%

2006-20073.000%

4.000%

2005-2006 and before4.000%

4.000%