Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan

The U.S. Department of Education administers a loan program for students called the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan. Graduate, professional, and law students in an eligible master’s degree or doctoral program can borrow a Direct Graduate PLUS Loan to help pay education expenses if enrolled at least half-time. The student must be creditworthy.

What are the eligibility requirements?

You must be enrolled at least half-time in a graduate or professional program (for example, a program that leads to a Master’s Degree or to a law or medical degree) at a school that participates in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program, and must meet all of the other general eligibility requirements for the Federal Student Aid programs. In addition, you must not have an adverse credit history (a credit check will be done).

What is considered to be an adverse credit history?

Credit history is a major factor in being approved for this loan. To qualify for a PLUS Loan, you cannot have an adverse credit history.  A credit history is a summary of your financial strength, including your history of paying bills and your ability to repay future loans.  Your credit history may be considered adverse if you are experiencing any of the following credit conditions: 

  • Bankruptcy discharge within the past five years.
  • Voluntary surrender of personal property to avoid repossession within the last five years.
  • Repossession of collateral within the last five years.
  • Foreclosure proceedings started.
  • Foreclosure within the last five years.
  • Conveying your real property that is subject to a mortgage (by deed) to your lender to avoid foreclosure (deed in lieu of foreclosure).
  • Accounts currently 90 days or more delinquent.
  • Unpaid collection accounts.
  • Charge-offs/write-offs of federal student loans.
  • Wage garnishment within the last five years.
  • Defaulting on a loan, even if the claim has been paid.
  • Lease or contract terminated by default.
  • County/state/federal tax lien within the past five years.

What are my options if I have an adverse credit history?

You may still receive a Direct Graduate PLUS Loan if you obtain an endorser who does not have an adverse credit history. An endorser is someone who agrees to repay the loan if you do not repay it. If you believe extenuating circumstances exist, you may also appeal the credit decision at studentloans.gov

Can I decline Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan and use only Direct PLUS Loans to pay for my education? 

Yes. However, Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans have some advantages over Direct Graduate PLUS Loans. Federal Direct Loans have a lower interest rate than Direct Graduate PLUS Loans.  In addition, Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans have a 6-month grace period after you leave school during which you are not required to make payments. There is no grace period for Direct Graduate PLUS Loans.

How much can I borrow?

The annual limit on a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan is equal to Loyola Law School's Estimated Cost of Attendance minus any other financial aid you receive. 

What is the interest rate?

The Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013 sets the annual interest rate on Direct PLUS Loans at the rate on high-yield 10-year Treasury notes plus 4.6%, but caps that rate at 10.5%. As a result, rates are expected to change annually. Students that borrow the Graduate PLUS Loan over multiple years will have a set of fixed-rate loans, each with a different interest rate.

  • For the 2016-2017 academic year, the Graduate PLUS Loan interest rate is fixed at 6.31% for loans disbursed after July 1, 2016.
  • For the 2017-2018 academic year, the Graduate PLUS Loan interest rate is fixed at 7% for loans disbursed after July 1, 2017.

What are the fees?

The Direct Graduate PLUS Loan program requires an origination fee be deducted from each disbursement. The net disbursement is the gross loan amount minus the origination fees.

  • 4.276% for 2016-2017 loans disbursed on or after October 1, 2016
  • 4.264% for 2017-2018 loans disbursed on or after October 1, 2017

When do my I begin repaying the loan?

You have the option of beginning repayment on the PLUS loan either 60 days after the loan is fully disbursed or to begin repayment six months after you graduate or cease to be enrolled on at least a half-time basis.

How do I apply for a PLUS Loan?

Step 1: Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid

Step 2: You will be offered a Federal Graduate PLUS Loan via PROWL. You must log-in to PROWL and accept this award to initiate the credit check decision. 

Step 3: Complete a Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note online.

Step 4: Complete Graduate PLUS Loan entrance counseling online. 

What are my options if your credit is not accepted?


You may re-apply for a Graduate PLUS loan with a creditworthy endorser. Visit studentloans.gov for more information.


You may appeal the adverse credit decision if you believe extenuating circumstances may exist. Visit studentloans.gov for more information

Questions related to your PLUS loan credit decision or the endorser process can be directed to the US Department of Education's Applicant Services Department at 1.800.557.7394 or by visiting studentloans.gov

You should also view the Direct PLUS Loan Disclosures.