Federal student loans are loans that are either issued or guaranteed by the Department of Education to help students pay for their undergraduate or graduate education. There are limits to how much a student can borrow for each stage of their education.
Currently, all new federal student loans are issued under the Direct loan program, but there are several older types of federal loans. Many borrowers have a combination, and each type is eligible for different repayment and forgiveness programs.
The Department of Education contracts a variety of private loan servicers to oversee federal loans and handle billing and other services. If you have federal student loans, your loan servicer might be Aidvantage, MOHELA, or Nelnet, for example.
There are several features of federal student loans that don’t apply to private student loans, such as set fixed interest rates, deferment/forbearance, income-driven repayment, and forgiveness programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness.