Stafford Loans are an old name for Federal student loans that are now all called Federal Direct Student Loans. At one point in the past, Federal student loans were issued two different ways: directly from the Department of Education and also by banks. Loans issued by the banks were called Stafford Loans (named for a Vermont Senator, Robert Stafford) in the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program and loans issued by the Department of Education were called Direct Loans. In 2009, the FFEL program was shut down and all loans from that period onward were issued as Direct loans. It is still a very common term and it is safe to say that if someone refers to a Stafford Loan, they mean the Federal Direct loan.