government aid: Grad PLUS Loans

about grad PLUS loans
Graduate and Professional Students are Eligible under the PLUS program to borrow up to 100% of graduate and professional education-related expenses as certified by the institution.


Loan Amounts: cost of education minus any financial aid given
Payments Begin: deferral plans (up to 180 days) after graduation
Interest Rates: fixed for the life of the student loan: see rates
No Restrictions: no prepayment penalties; no collateral



More Information:

  1. grad PLUS loan summary review
  2. grad PLUS advantages and disadvantages
  3. detailed loan information
  4. use this "tally sheet" to add up your aid

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Grad PLUS Loan Summary Review


  • grad PLUS Loan Amounts:
    eligible to borrow in your own behalf up to 100% of the cost of attendance (tuition, room and board, books, and even travel) minus any financial aid received.

    You must apply for the annual loan maximum eligibility under the Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loan Program before applying for a Graduate/Professional PLUS loan: see stafford loans

  • No Restrictions:
    does not require collateral; no prepayment penalties
  • Loan Processing:
    pre-approval within minutes; funding can be made within 30 days or less
  • Loan Eligibility:
    student must be enrolled at least half-time in a graduate or professional degree or certificate program at an approved school. Satisfactory credit history required with or without a co-signer
  • Loan Terms:
    option to defer payments until after graduation or when the student leaves school


money saving tip

Grad students (and professionals) should setup a budget that plans the aid needs and monthly spending amounts for school. Download our worksheet that outlines the budget needs for each academic year.

see our discussion on building a school budget

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Grad PLUS Loan Advantages - Disadvantages


  • Available for Graduates and Professionals
    graduates and professional students can borrow on their own behalf up to the total cost of education minus any financial aid received

  • Low Interest
    federal PLUS loans are fixed rate loans that remain fixed for the entire term of the loan; current PLUS loan rates are about the same as most other financing options: view interest rates

  • Flexible Repayment Plans
    The federal government offers flexible repayment plans that can fit your budget for graduates: payments are deferred until after graduation.



  • Loan Must be Repaid by the Borrower
    the loan is underwritten for the parent or graduate; the parent or graduate is responsible for repaying the loan

  • Requires Federal Filings
    you must file the FAFSA form with the federal government in order to apply for PLUS loans: see FAFSA file

  • Credit Check Required
    in order to qualify for the loan, you must pass a credit check as set by the federal government

  • Multiple Borrowings
    you have to file and apply for a loan each academic year.

  • Graduates Must Use Stafford Loans First
    graduates and professional students must first apply for the annual loan maximum eligibility under the Federal Stafford Loan Program before applying for a Graduate/Professional PLUS loan.

    This will give you many different loans that you will need to manage: use our loan tracking sheet to manage both stafford, PLUS and other loans.

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Detail Loan Information

Available to the graduate and professional students regardless of financial need

The student must meet certain eligibility criteria in order qualify for financial student loan assistance:

  • display a need for financial aid (except for unsubsidized Stafford and PLUS loans).
  • complete high school and have been awarded a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) Certificate.
  • pass a college entrance exam approved by the U.S. Department of Education, and/or meet other standards your state may establish.
  • be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student working at least half-time toward a degree or certificate in an eligible program.
  • be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
  • have a valid Social Security number, link to obtain SSN:

  • make satisfactory academic progress.
  • sign a statement on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) certifying that you will use federal student aid only for educational purposes
  • sign a statement on the FAFSA certifying that you are not in default on a federal student loan and that you do not owe money back on a federal student grant.
  • register with the Selective Service (for young men age 18 and over).
    you can register online:

This grad PLUS program is available for students in graduate levels programs only:

(undergraduate students must use the Parent PLUS program)

You must first accept all Stafford Student Loans you are eligible for before you may borrow under the Graduate PLUS program.

see stafford student loan program

Graduates may borrow up to the cost of attendance minus the amount of any financial aid received

(including all available Stafford student loan amounts)

Cost of attendance includes tuition, room and board, books, and even travel.

Borrowed funds will be paid directly to the school from the lender or by the Federal Government under FDSLP.

The school will first use the money to pay your tuition and fees. Any remaining loan money is credited to your account or paid to the directly.

Grad PLUS loans are fixed rate loans with an upper rate limit,

Meaning that the rate will remain fixed for term of the loan. Fixed rates are applicable for all loans disbursed after July 01, 2007.

view current PLUS Loan rates:
click here to view rates

You may be required to pay up to 4% processing fees

To the lender upon loan disbursement. Portion of these fees go the Federal Government and another portion to a guaranty agency to help reduce the cost of issuing the loans.

Generally these fees are deducted proportionately from each loan disbursement.

You may cancel the loan within 14 days after you receive written notification that funds have been credited to your account. Contact the school's financial aid office for cancellation terms.

Graduate PLUS loan borrower may defer payment on their loans while in in-school status —

there is no grace period; however.

Graduate PLUS loan borrowers qualify for the same deferment options as Stafford borrowers. This means that within 60 days after full disbursement when the first payment is typically due on a PLUS loan, these loans go into in-school deferment status, which can last as long as the borrower is enrolled at least half time.

The repayment period is 10 years under one of the following plans:

  • Standard Repayment Plan:
    you pay a fixed amount per month
  • Graduated Repayment Plan:
    you begin payments that are low (equal to the interest accrued) and then increase over time until full repayment
  • Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan:
    the monthly payments change based upon annual income
  • Extended Repayment Plan:
    allows new borrowers on or after 10/7/98 with a total FFELP debt of at least $30,000 (FDSLP loans offer other repayment terms) to repay their loan (either fixed or graduated) for up to 25 years.

The Grad PLUS loan is available only to graduates who can pass a credit check;

If you fail to pass the credit check, you may still receive the loan if someone with a good credit history co-signs for the loan or if you can show extenuating circumstances.

Interest paid on grad PLUS loans qualify a tax reduction

Borrowers who file tax returns can deduct some of the interest paid on their student loans. Taxpayers who have taken out loans to pay for the cost of attending an accredited college for themselves, a spouse, or a dependent may be eligible for this deduction.

see IRS tax publication for more information:
tax benefits of higher education

For more grad PLUS loan information:

financial aid steps in the application process:
reviews the steps required when applying for federal financial aid.

link to the U.S. Department of Education
to download the latest version of the Student Guide

apply online

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