Difference Between Subsidized Loans and Unsubsidized Loans

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 24, 2022


Difference Between Subsidized Loans and Unsubsidized Loans Difference Between Subsidized Loans and Unsubsidized Loans

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With a seemingly perennial increase in tuition fees for students, especially undergraduates and graduates, A large portion of the crowd prefers to apply for student loans. There exist many schemes that favor students and let them off easy by offering a generous amount of relaxation, considering most of them usually don’t have a stable source of income yet. There are two kinds of loans that can be taken: subsidized loans and unsubsidized loans and we shall explore them both to check which is better!

Subsidized Loans vs. Unsubsidized Loans

The main difference between a subsidized loan and an unsubsidized loan lies in their interest schemes. While a subsidized loan lets off the borrowing party by waiving their interest payments on certain temporary occasions that are pre-discussed, unsubsidized loan grants no such thing and requires the borrower to pay the amount back in time without any obligation to allow slack. Subsidized loans allow you some relaxation and let you pay as you go. Unsubsidized loans are strict and can capitalize your interest by accumulating it in case of deferment, leading to a new, higher amount of principal.

Difference Between Subsidized Loans and Unsubsidized Loans in Tabular Form

Table: Subsidized Loans vs. Unsubsidized Loans
Parameters of Comparison
Subsidized Loan
Unsubsidized Loans
They come with subsidies and allow the government or the lender to pay interest on the behalf of the borrower on particular pre-written occasions.
They are not accompanied by any sort of subsidies and do not grant the borrower any relaxation or support.
Only undergraduate students can apply for a subsidized loan.
Both graduates and undergraduates can apply for an unsubsidized loan.
There is no potential for accumulation of the interest
The interest will be accrued in case of deferment or when chosen so.
There is higher relaxation when one opts for a subsidized loan as the borrower does not need to pay a fine when they serve their grace period or deferment period. Interest will not be accrued either.
The borrower will have to pay the interest duly. The interest, however, will be accrued and added to the principal regardless of what period they are serving.
Proof of financial need
The borrower is required to submit concrete proof of their requirement for financial support to be approved for a loan.
The borrowing party need not prove to anyone their financial need to access an unsubsidized loan.
Higher flexibility throughout repayment.
Low flexibility throughout repayment.

What is a Subsidized Loan?

A subsidized loan can be defined as a loan, to which a subsidy is applied that eventually reduces the rate of interest on the loan. The subsidy can be applied to the loan by the lender on behalf of the borrower. This type of loan is most suitable for undergraduates who require financial support. However, the interest on the loan is not completely waived but is reduced to an extent overall. Thus, there are different circumstances and methods in which a subsidized loan is applied. Let us take a closer look at how these subsidized loans work:

How do Subsidized Loans work?

When you borrow a certain amount of money, the lender charges an amount of interest that depends on the category, principal amount, and the lender themselves. The loan is typically paid off over a particular course in installments that comprise a part of the principle along with the monthly interest. This factor of interest is what allows a lender to make money on the loan. So what distinguishes a subsidized loan from the others?

A subsidized loan allows the lender or someone else to pay off the interest for you but only in certain times and circumstances. This provides the borrower some slack and relief before he is asked to pay the interest again. Loans can easily build up over the years and lead to potential debt if handled irresponsibly. This generally happens due to high rates of interest. However, in the case of subsidized loans, a hundred percent of your payment is contributed to the loan amount. With no inclusion of an interest factor in the amount being paid, It is far more convenient for the borrowing party to manage their finances and can easily pay their loan off.

When does this apply?

As mentioned previously, most loans require the borrowing party to start paying off their loans along with interest immediately. However, for the people who opt for subsidized loans, the interest isn't waivered completely but only at certain periods. Some examples of such situations are:

  • While the borrower is still a student that is enrolled in a school at least half of the time.
  • For a period of the first six months after you leave school. This period is called the grace period, where the borrower is given some time off to find other modes of earning.
  • In the case of any potential postponements of the loan payments. This is also called the deferment period.

For a student that just left school, This loan proves to be the most beneficial. It allows them to look for work while pressing brakes on their interest. This period provides them an excellent chance to pay off as much of the loan as they can, reducing any chances of debt while saving money.

Advantages of Subsidized loans

The addition of a factor of subsidy to loans comes with great benefits when handled properly. Let us observe some features of a subsidized loan that are profitable to the borrowing party.

  • In the case of subsidized loans, the lender or a government body pays off the interest on your loans. This will save you tons of money in the long run as the complete portion of the amount being paid will be directed towards paying off your loan and not the interest.
  • Other private loans do not offer you any flexibility or relaxation when it comes to repaying the loans. There is always a strict due date, failing which will have harsh consequences financially. Subsidized loans have flexible repayment options and allow the inclusion of a deferment period. This gives the borrowing party a generous amount of relaxation and time to accumulate enough money required for the repayment.
  • Other student loans generally have higher interest rates, especially those of private institutions. This can prove to be disadvantageous to the students. Subsidized loans typically offer generously low-interest rates to genuinely help students in need of financial support.

Disadvantages of Subsidized loans

Even the most polished coin can have two sides! Moving on to the disadvantages of subsidized loans, we can observe that:

  • Subsidized loans are accessible only to undergraduate students. Those who have already completed their degree cannot enjoy these benefits and will have to opt for other loans.
  • Subsidized loans come with many constraints as there is a certain limit on the amount that can be borrowed each year and also in total. This upper limit is calculated and set by your academic institution based on factors such as your requirements, the grade you study in, and limits set by the government. No more money can be drawn than the maximum amount set for the year. In case of higher requirements for financial aid, students can opt for subsidies loans or loans from private institutions.
  • Subsidized loans are only approved when there is concrete proof of your financial need. There is high scrutiny in the case of subsidized loans and you will be needed to demonstrate the reasons for your requirement for financial support. There will be certain factors that will not allow you to access subsidized loans, such as your parents’ annual income, your family’s annual income, etc.

What is an Unsubsidized Loan?

Unsubsidized loans are those loans that are not accompanied by subsidies or waivers of any kind. When the borrowing party is granted the loan, the lending party does not have any obligation to offer waivers, hidden or explicit, to help the borrowing party recover the money conveniently. No institution is required to offer you any help. In simple terms, the borrowing party is fully responsible for repaying the loan amount along with the interest without any benefits of relaxation. However, these types of loans do not categorize students concerning their graduation status, financial need, or the availability of concrete proof of the same, which can prove to be advantageous to a larger crowd of people. These loans typically have a fixed rate of interest that will stay constant until the loan is paid off. Now, we will provide you with a closer look at how these unsubsidized loans work.

How do Unsubsidized Loans work?

Unsubsidized loans work similarly to any other loan that collects a fixed amount of interest monthly along with the original principal amount. There is no involvement of any waivers or relaxation of the interest charged at any given time. It is a simple ‘borrow and repay’ with the factor of constant interest. You have two options to go with when you choose unsubsidized loans. You can either pay the interest as usual or choose to capitalize it.e., allow it to accrue, and be added to the capital amount. However, this doesn't mean that the interest will be separately added to the principle. The rate of interest will be calculated as per the new principal amount after adding the initial collected interest. This will eventually lead to a huge amount of loan to be paid off at the end of the course and can very easily result in debt.

In the case of the borrowing party being unable to pay off their installments in time, most institutions/lenders generally enforce the capitalization method on that particular installment and add up the interest amount to the principal. This results in a new principal amount, concerning which the new interest amount will be calculated. Thus, it is strongly recommended that individuals who go for unsubsidized loans, pay off the loan as quickly and punctually as possible and not just pay the minimum amount.

Important things to note

  • Unsubsidized loan exists independent of the student’s financial/academic situation i.e., the interest will be accrued regardless of what situation you are in. Thus, it does not matter whether you are serving your grace period or are still in school/college.
  • This type of loan is available for both undergraduate and graduate students.
  • There is a fixed rate of interest for the entire course of repayment.
  • There is no relaxation in case of deferments and it will only result in higher amounts of accrued interest.

Advantages of Unsubsidized loans

  • Unlike subsidized loans, there is no need for the borrower to produce any proof or demonstrate the requirement for financial support to gain access to the loan. The loan will be approved without any need for these extra documents and thus prove to be easy, convenient, and time-saving.
  • There is no restriction on students who already hold a degree. Any student, graduate or undergraduate, can apply for this loan.
  • There is a fixed rate of interest that will remain constant for the remaining course of repayment.
  • There exists the availability of a higher capital in the case of unsubsidized loans as there is no involvement of the government to pay anything off, unlike subsidized loans.

Moving on to the lesser green side, we have:

Disadvantages of Unsubsidized Loans

  • There is no help or support from the government or the lender as they are not obliged to provide those services.
  • The borrowing party holds the entire responsibility of repaying along with the interest within the said time punctually. There will not exist any flexibility when it comes to repaying the loan.
  • Even with the inclusion of a grace period where you don't have to pay any installments yet, the interest will still be accumulated for every month appropriately as opposed to subsidized loans.
  • Any deferment will not lead to relaxation but will harm you instead, as the total principle will be increased.
  • Due to this increment scheme, there is always a higher chance of falling into debt. Thus, one must be careful when dealing with unsubsidized loans.

Main Differences between Subsidized Loans and Unsubsidized Loans In Points

  • Subsidized loans require proof that will demonstrate their need for financial support for approval. Unsubsidized loans require no such documents or proof and can easily get approved.
  • Subsidized loans do not require the borrower to pay interest during the grace period and deferment period. They only need to pay the installments of the principle. Unsubsidized loans demand interest regardless of what period you’re serving.
  • Subsidized loans allow higher flexibility when the borrower repays the money while unsubsidized loans are strict with their schemes.
  • Only undergraduates are given access to subsidized loans while both graduates and undergraduates can apply for an unsubsidized loan.
  • There is higher available capital for an unsubsidized loan than there is for subsidized loans.
  • Subsidized loans allow the lender or the government to pay off your interests while you're offered the waiver while people who opt for unsubsidized loans are entirely responsible for the repayment process.


As you can observe from the listed facts and descriptions, it is far better to choose a subsidized loan when one meets the requirements. A subsidized loan is far cheaper and safer since undergraduates might have low-paying jobs at this age. Unsubsidized loans can prove to be quite a burden if the borrower does not have a stable source of income to pay off the loan responsibly. Thus, one needs to be careful while choosing their loan schemes and must keep all the calculations in mind while making their choice.



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"Difference Between Subsidized Loans and Unsubsidized Loans." Diffzy.com, 2023. Sun. 29 Jan. 2023. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-subsidized-loans-and-unsubsidized-loans-101>.

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