Historical Federal Student Loan Interest Rates and Fees

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By Mark Kantrowitz

May 12, 2020

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

2020-2021 Fixed

2.750%

2.750%

2019-2020 Fixed

4.529%

4.529%

2018-2019 Fixed

5.045%

5.045%

2017-2018 Fixed

4.45%

4.45%

2016-2017 Fixed

3.76%

3.76%

2015-2016  Fixed

4.29%

4.29%

2014-2015 Fixed

4.66%

4.66%

2013-2014 Fixed

3.86%

3.86%

2012-2013 Fixed

3.40%

6.80%

2011-2012 Fixed

3.40%

6.80%

2010-2011 Fixed

4.50%

6.80%

2009-2010 Fixed

5.60%

6.80%

2008-2009 Fixed

6.00%

6.80%

2007-2008 Fixed

6.80%

6.80%

2006-2007 Fixed

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 Year Fixed vs. Variable In-School and
Grace Periods
Repayment
Period
2005-2006 Variable

4.70%

5.30%

2004-2005 Variable

2.77%

3.37%

2003-2004 Variable

2.82%

3.42%

2002-2003 Variable

3.46%

4.06%

2001-2002 Variable

5.39%

5.99%

2000-2001 Variable

7.59%

8.19%

1999-2000 Variable

6.32%

6.92%

1998-1999 Variable

6.86%

7.46%

1997-1998 Variable

7.65%

8.25%

1996-1997 Variable

7.65%

8.25%

1995-1996 Variable

8.25%

8.25%

1994-1995 Variable

7.43%

7.43%

1993-1994 Variable

6.22%

6.22%

1992-1993 Variable

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 9/30/1992 Variable

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

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

8%

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

9%

prior to 1/1/1981 Fixed

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

2020-2021 Fixed

NA

4.300%

2019-2020 Fixed

NA

6.079%

2018-2019 Fixed

NA

6.595%

2017-2018 Fixed

NA

6.00%

2016-2017 Fixed

NA

5.31%

2015-2016  Fixed

NA

5.84%

2014-2015 Fixed

NA

6.21%

2013-2014 Fixed

NA

5.41%

2012-2013 Fixed

NA

6.80%

2011-2012 Fixed

6.80%

6.80%

2010-2011 Fixed

6.80%

6.80%

2009-2010 Fixed

6.80%

6.80%

2008-2009 Fixed

6.80%

6.80%

2007-2008 Fixed

6.80%

6.80%

2006-2007 Fixed

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
2005-2006 Variable

4.70%

5.30%

2004-2005 Variable

2.77%

3.37%

2003-2004 Variable

2.82%

3.42%

2002-2003 Variable

3.46%

4.06%

2001-2002 Variable

5.39%

5.99%

2000-2001 Variable

7.59%

8.19%

1999-2000 Variable

6.32%

6.92%

1998-1999 Variable

6.86%

7.46%

1997-1998 Variable

7.65%

8.25%

1996-1997 Variable

7.65%

8.25%

1995-1996 Variable

8.25%

8.25%

1994-1995 Variable

7.43%

7.43%

1993-1994 Variable

6.22%

6.22%

1992-1993 Variable

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

2020-2021 Fixed

5.300%

NA

2019-2020 Fixed

7.079%

NA

2018-2019 Fixed

7.595%

NA

2017-2018 Fixed

7.00%

NA

2016-2017 Fixed

6.31%

NA

2015-2016  Fixed

6.84%

NA

2014-2015 Fixed

7.21%

NA

2013-2014 Fixed

6.41%

NA

2012-2013 Fixed

7.90%

NA

2011-2012 Fixed

7.90%

NA

2010-2011 Fixed

7.90%

NA

2009-2010 Fixed

7.90%

8.50%

2008-2009 Fixed

7.90%

8.50%

2007-2008 Fixed

7.90%

8.50%

2006-2007 Fixed

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

2005-2006 Variable

6.10%

6.10%

2004-2005 Variable

4.17%

4.17%

2003-2004 Variable

4.22%

4.22%

2002-2003 Variable

4.86%

4.86%

2001-2002 Variable

6.79%

6.79%

2000-2001 Variable

8.99%

8.99%

1999-2000 Variable

7.72%

7.72%

1998-1999 Variable

8.26%

8.26%

1997-1998 Variable

8.98%

8.98%

1996-1997 Variable

8.72%

8.72%

1995-1996 Variable

8.98%

8.98%

1994-1995 Variable

8.38%

8.38%

1993-1994 Variable

6.64%

6.64%

1992-1993 Variable

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 9/30/1992 Variable

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

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

12%

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

14%

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

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 present Fixed Undergrad: 10-Year Treasury Note + 2.05%

 

Grad: 10-Year Treasury Note + 3.60%

8.25%

9.50%

7/1/2006 to 6/30/2012 Fixed Interest 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 6/30/2006 Variable

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

Repayment: 91-day T-bill + 2.3%

8.25%

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

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

Repayment: 91-day T-bill + 3.1%

8.25%

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

91-day T-bill + 3.1%

8.25%

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

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 present Fixed

10-Year Treasury Note + 4.60%

10.50%

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

7.9%

NA

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

DL: 7.9%

FFEL: 8.5%

NA

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

91-day T-bill + 3.1%

9.00%

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

CMT + 3.1%

9.00%

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

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%

2012-2013 1.000%

4.000%

2011-2012 1.000%

4.000%

2010-2011 1.000%

4.000%

2009-2010 1.500%

4.000%

2008-2009 2.000%

4.000%

2007-2008 2.500%

4.000%

2006-2007 3.000%

4.000%

2005-2006 and before 4.000%

4.000%

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