Student loan documents and statements use several acronyms and unfamiliar phrases. Here are some that you should be familiar with:
DOE: Department of Education
FDLP: William D. Ford Direct Loan Program (Direct Loans)
Federally subsidized loans where the government makes a loan directly to the student.
FFEL or FFELP: Federal Family Education Loan Program
FFEL was a federally subsidized student loan program in which the government insured private lenders against defaults. New lending under this program stopped in 2010.
GSL: Guaranteed Student Loan
All student loans that are made directly, subsidized or insured by the federal government, including Direct Loans, Stafford Loans, PLUS Loans, and Supplemental Loans for Students (SLS) are GSLs.
IBR: Income Based Repayment
The monthly payments under the IBR program are based on the borrower's income. IBR can be $0 or more on a monthly basis.
If, after 25 years, the borrower has been making appropriate IBR, ICR or deferment payments, the direct loan is discharged. Under some LRAP programs, borrowers may qualify for forgiveness of the loan balance after making payments under the IBR or ICR programs for a given period and showing certified employment in certain sectors.
The Federal Student Aid website offers an IBR calculator.
ICR: Income Contingent Repayment
IFAP: Information for Financial Aid Professionals
This is a Department of Education website that includes updates to student loan policies, new application forms, definitions, and changes to the law.
LRAP: Loan Repayment Assistance Program
Federal LRAPs are designed to encourage graduates to enter and continue in public service employment. Public service jobs include employment by the government, serving in the military, teaching in a low-income school district or serving as a public defender.
For example, teachers may qualify for forgiveness of up to $17,500 of their FFEL or Direct Loans. The Federal Student Aid website has a list of LRAPs for different professions.
A reliable list for law graduates to search can be found at Equal Justice Works.
Offered to students planning to teach in a high-need field in a school serving low-income students, and who agree to the TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve. When a grantee fails to meet program requirements, the grant amount is converted into a loan.
Eligible parents borrow under the PLUS Loan program to help cover the cost of their dependent student's education. PLUS Loans are now referred to as part of the Direct Loan program.
Unlike FFEL or Perkins Loans, monthly payments on parent PLUS loans are not automatically deferred while the student is enrolled in school. But you can ask for a deferment. If you do this, the accumulated interest is capitalized, or added to the principal, because it is not subject to interest benefits.
Subsidized/Unsubsidized Stafford Loans
These have been disbursed under the Direct Loan program and are known as Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized Loans. Students with financial need receive a subsidized loan, which means that interest is paid by the federal government while the student is in school at least half-time, during grace periods, and deferment.
You do not have to be in need to get an unsubsidized loan. Unsubsidized loans capitalize interest, which means that interest builds while the student is still in school. Unsubsidized Stafford loans do not qualify for interest benefits, but do qualify for special allowance.
Updated: June 2017