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 What are Direct Graduate PLUS Loans?

The Direct Graduate PLUS Loan is available for graduate students obtaining degrees in the following:   Physician Assistant or Medical MMS Programs, Masters in Biology (Medical, Thesis, and Non-Thesis are eligible), Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling, MS in Marriage and Family Counseling or Doctorate in Professional Counseling.

However, Direct Graduate PLUS Loans should only be used after exhausting the maximum annual Direct Loan eligibility. Graduate students must first borrow the annual Direct Loan maximum limit of $20,500 unsubsidized loan.

Direct Graduate PLUS Loans are not based on financial need but may not exceed the total cost of attendance less any other financial aid.

Advantages are:

  • Payments are deferred as long as the graduate student remains at least half-time
  • The fixed interest rate is 8.05%. 
  • There is no prepayment penalty.
  • The credit criteria are generally more lenient than for private loans. 
  • Eligible to be consolidated with Stafford and Perkins Loans. 
  • In cases of economic hardship, repayment may be deferred for up to three years. 
  • In the event of permanent disability or death, the loan will be forgiven.


In addition to having completed a FAFSA and first exhausting the $20,500 in annual Direct Loan eligibility, a graduate student must be enrolled in school at least half-time in one of the following programs (Physician Assistant or Medical MMS Programs, Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling, MS in Marriage and Family Counseling or Doctorate in Professional Counseling.)  and must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress. The Office of Financial Aid determines the amount of Direct Graduate PLUS Loan eligibility in accordance with federal requirements.

Eligibility for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan depends on a modest credit check that determines if the graduate student has what is termed an “adverse credit history.” An “adverse credit history” is defined as being more than 90 days late on any debt or having any Title IV debt within the past five years subjected to default determination, bankruptcy discharge, foreclosure, repossession, tax lien, wage garnishment, or write-off.  This credit check is performed by the Department of Education upon applying for the Grad Plus Loan.

How Much Can Be Borrowed?

Graduate students may borrow up to their total cost of attendance less other financial aid received such as loans or scholarships.  The total cost of attendance is determined by the Office of Financial Aid based on an average cost for tuition, books, room and board, travel, and miscellaneous expenses for the academic year. It is important for each individual to fully understand how a Direct Graduate PLUS Loan will impact them financially. Most financial experts advise that one should not incur debt (excluding mortgage debt) that results in total monthly payments (debt-to-income ratio) exceeding 20% of your monthly gross income.

Interest Rates

The interest rate is fixed at 8.05%.

Loan Fees

The loan fee is a percentage of the loan amount and is proportionately deducted from each loan disbursement. The percentage for all Direct PLUS loans first disbursed on or after Oct. 1, 2020, is 4.228%. Loans first disbursed before that date had different loan fees.

How do students apply for a Direct Graduate PLUS loan?

Go to: and apply for the Grad Plus Loan

Upon approval of your Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, you must complete Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Entrance Counseling online (one-time requirement) and also the Grad Plus Master Promissory Note (This contract can be valid for up to 10 years as long as the graduate student borrows every 12 months).

Loan proceeds will be sent directly to the University. The disbursement will reflect the amount of the loan less origination fees ( 4.228%). The proceeds will be applied to the graduate student’s account to clear any balances. The Bursar’s Office will notify you of any refund once your account is clear.