Loans for Graduate and Professional Students
About the Graduate PLUS Loan
The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 modified the PLUS program (formerly a federal loan for parents of undergraduates) to allow graduate/professional students to borrow PLUS funds, or Graduate PLUS. Graduate PLUS loans have a repayment period of 10 years and you must be enrolled at least half-time (five credits) to receive the loan. Finally, the GradPLUS is a credit-based loan, so the Financial Aid Office encourages you to pull your free credit report online before you apply. Reviewing your credit report, and resolving any discrepancies, can help you avoid processing and approval delays.
Several key points should be made regarding the Graduate PLUS program:
- This program is for students in graduate and professional level programs only.
- You must file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to be eligible.
- You are encouraged to accept all Stafford Loans for which you are eligible before you borrow under the Graduate PLUS program.
This means that some scholarship students will have their costs fully covered with Stafford Loan and may not need to use the Graduate PLUS.
Graduate PLUS Loan Limit
The loan limit for each year is the annual cost of education/budget, as determined by the Financial Aid Office, minus other financial assistance.
To initiate an application you must file the FAFSA and log into "Check Your Aid" to accept the loan. In addition you must complete a separate Master Promissory Note (MPN) for the Graduate PLUS at www.studentloans.gov
PLEASE NOTE: First-time GradPLUS borrowers are required to complete online entrance counseling at www.studentloans.gov
If the GradPLUS is denied then the borrower can pursue an appeal or provide an endorser. If an endorser is used, and the loan is approved, then the student is required to complete a new Master Promissory Note as well as supplemental counseling as stated in the endorser email/letter from the Department of Education.
Graduate PLUS repayment
GradPLUS loans are placed in deferment while you are enrolled half-time. In addition GradPLUS loans disbursed after 7/1/2008 can be deferred while the student is enrolled at least half-time. Any GradPLUS disbursed prior to this date may not be deferred but students should contact their loan servicer for information about deferral.
As with Unsubsidized Stafford Loans and private loans, interest begins to accumulate at the time the first disbursement is made.
Key differences between Graduate PLUS Loans and private (alternative) loans
Graduate PLUS Loans can be consolidated with your Stafford Loans upon graduation to give you a single payment. Private loans cannot be consolidated with federal loans, so this may be a benefit to you.
In addition private loans do not qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, and they often have variable rates.
More information about the GradPLUS program can be found here.