College loans come in all shapes and sizes. Students should always explore their federal student loan options, including subsidized Stafford loans and Perkins loans, before turning elsewhere for borrowing for college. The subsidized Stafford loan offers the lowest rate (3.4%) and a low 1% default fee. The Perkins loan has a low rate of 5% and no fees. Awards for the Perkins loan, if available, are awarded by your school through your financial aid award letter.