direct loan

Federal Direct Student Loan Program

The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program (FDLP), often referred to as "Direct Loans," is a United States Department of Education program that provides loans to help students pay for education after high school. The Department of Education acts as a lender, providing funds for Stafford loans and PLUS loans in the same amounts as the Stafford and PLUS loans offered through the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

The Department of Education allows schools to choose which program, FDSLP or FFELP, best suits the needs of its students. The Department of Education does not currently allow a student to choose an FDSLP loan if the school chooses to participate in FFELP, and vice versa. However, students may be able to choose to consolidate loans under either FDSLP or FFELP.

Political history of the program

Congress passed a version of the Direct Loan program under President George H. W. Bush, but Bush promised to veto it. Candidate Bill Clinton promised that he would sign such legislation into law if elected, and the Direct Loan program was one of the first laws he signed in 1993.

Funding for the Federal Direct Student Loan Program has decreased from just over $7 billion in 2006 to $509 million budgeted for 2008.

Democrats made more student-favorable Direct Loan terms part of their platform, which contributed to their retaking Congress in 2006.

In comparison, other countries have also experimented with government-sponsored loan programs. New Zealand, for instance, now offers 0% interest loans to students (retroactive for all former students who had government loans), who can pay their loans back as a percentage of income after they graduate. This program was a Labour Party promise in the 2005 general election.

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