Beginning July 1, 2013, some changes are coming to the Direct Subsidized loans. A new law called Public Law 112-141 has established loan limits for the Direct Subsidized loans. This law affects new borrowers after July 1, 2013, and a new borrower is defined as a person who does not have any balance due on any outstanding loans on or after July 1, 2013.
The new new limitation puts a 150% cap for loans of a program. So, if you are in a 2 year program, then you are only allowed to receive Subsidized loans for 3 years. If you go over that, then you can only receive Unsubsidized loans. Since Satisfactory Academic Progress states you must complete in 150% of the program's length, it doesn't sound like that big of a deal, right? Think again.
The hardest part of this seems to be switching programs. If you are in a one year program, and switch to a two year program, then you are fine: you basically went from two years or eligibility to three years. But let's say you spend three years in a two year program, and you decide to go to a lesser program. This lesser program has few of the same classes, and will take you a year to complete. You've already used 3 years of eligibility even though you switched programs, and your new program has a max of two years of eligibility. You've already used it up, so you are not eligible for more Subsidized loans.
Confusing? Yes. The only way to get around this is if you start in a program and finish in that program, and you do it in the amount of time it's supposed to take you. And that is what the government is trying to get more students to do.
Keep in mind that as long as you have enough lifetime Unsubsidized loan eligibility, then any part of the Subsidized loans you don't qualify for, you can receive in Unsubsidized loans. However, also remember that Subsidized is better for you since interest doesn't build on the Subsidized loans while you're in school. The less Unsubsidized loans you have, the less interest you will owe, which will help your financial future.