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PLUS Loans for Graduate and Professional Degree Students

What is the Graduate/Professional PLUS Loan?

Graduate/Professional PLUS Loans are low-interest loans meant to help cover college expenses for graduate and professional degree students. You can borrow up to your cost of attendance minus the amount of any other financial aid you receive.

PLUS loans are unsubsidized. This means that interest accumulates while you are attending graduate school. You need a positive credit history to qualify.

How do I qualify for the loan?

To qualify for a Graduate/Professional PLUS loan, 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).

You must meet all of the other general eligibility requirements for the Federal Student Aid programs. For example, you must be a United States citizen or eligible non-citizen, and you must not be in default on a federal student loan or owe a refund on a federal education grant. You must also pass a credit check. If you don't pass, you may still be able to receive a loan by documenting any existing extenuating (difficult and unusual) circumstances, or by obtaining an endorser who does not have an adverse credit history. An endorser or co-signer is someone who agrees to repay the loan if you fail to do so.

How do I apply?

For a Graduate/Professional PLUS Loan, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You may also need to complete a Federal PLUS Loan application. Check with your school's financial aid office to inquire about their process for requesting a Direct PLUS Loan.

Before receiving your Graduate/Professional PLUS Loan, you must sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN) that you'll get from your school or from the Department of Education. You may be able to complete the application and MPN online -- check with your school's financial aid office. The MPN explains the terms and conditions of your loan and is your legally binding agreement to repay your loan.

Can I cancel the loan if I change my mind?

Yes. Before your loan money is disbursed (paid out), you may cancel all or part of the loan by notifying your school of your decision. After your loan money is disbursed, you may cancel all or part of your loan within certain timeframes. For details, refer to the Borrower's Rights and Responsibilities Statement that accompanies your PLUS MPN.

How much can I borrow?

With a Graduate/Professional PLUS Loan, you may borrow up to your full cost of attendance, minus any other financial aid you receive (including other loans, scholarships and certain fellowships).

Your cost of attendance (COA) is the total amount it will cost you to go to school -- usually expressed as a yearly figure. It is determined using rules established by law. The COA includes tuition and fees, on-campus room and board (or a housing and food allowance for off-campus students), and allowances for books, supplies, transportation, loan fees and dependent care, if applicable.

What's the interest rate on Graduate/Professional PLUS Loans?

The interest rate is 8.05 percent for Direct PLUS Loans first disbursed between July 1, 2023 and before July 1, 2024. These are fixed interest rates for the life of the loan.

Other than interest, is there a charge to get a Graduate/Professional PLUS Loan?

Yes. In addition to interest, you will pay a loan fee of 4.228 percent for loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 2020. Loans disbursed before that date had different loan fees.

How much will I have to pay back each month?

You will be able to choose from a variety of repayment plans designed to meet your needs. Your monthly payment amount on a PLUS Loan will vary depending on the repayment plan that you choose and how much you borrowed. Your loan servicer will provide you with information on available repayment plans. They can also provide you with estimated monthly payment amounts for different debt levels or for other repayment plans. Learn about your repayment options.

When do I pay back the loan?

You don't have to make any payments while you are enrolled at least half-time and for an additional six months after you cease to be enrolled at least half-time.

If your loan is deferred, interest will accrue on the loan during the deferment. You may choose to pay the accrued interest or allow the interest to capitalize when the deferment period ends. Your loan servicer will notify you when your first payment is due."

Is it ever possible to postpone repayment of the loan?

You may defer repayment while you are enrolled in school at least half-time. If you have trouble making your scheduled loan payments, you should contact your loan servicer immediately. There are options your loan servicer can explain to you such as changing your repayment plan, requesting a deferment or a forbearance that would allow you to temporarily stop or lower the payments on your loan. You will have to explain why you are unable to make payments. Be sure to contact your loan servicer immediately if you encounter any difficulty repaying your loan.

Is interest charged during deferment or forbearance?

Yes. Interest is charged on a PLUS Loan starting on the date of the first loan disbursement, and it continues to be charged during periods of deferment or forbearance.

If you don't pay the interest as it accumulates, it will be capitalized. This means that the interest will be added to the principal amount of the loan, and additional interest will be based on that higher amount. In other words, the loan will get bigger!

Can a PLUS Loan debt ever be discharged?

Yes, under certain conditions such as bankruptcy, disability and death. A discharge releases you from your obligation to repay the loan.

The following reasons are not sufficient to discharge your PLUS Loan debt:

  • You didn't complete your program of study at your school (unless you couldn't complete the program for a valid reason -- for example, the school closed.)
  • You didn't like the school or the program of study.
  • You didn't obtain employment after completing the program of study.

Can I consolidate my Graduate/Professional PLUS Loans with my other student loans?

Yes, you may consolidate your Direct PLUS Loans with your other eligible student loans after you leave school. Consolidation is the combining of several loans into a single loan to reduce the monthly payment amount and/or increase the repayment period.

Note that the repayment period for a consolidation loan begins as soon as the loan is made. Therefore, if you want to consolidate your PLUS Loans with other student loans that have a grace period, you should wait to do so until shortly before the end of the grace period on the other loans.

How can I get more information?

For more information on Student Financial Assistance Programs, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center:

Internet: Student Aid on the Web

Phone: 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243)

TTY: 1-800-730-8913

(Spanish speakers are available)


  • Email Support

  • 1-800-GO-TO-XAP (1-800-468-6927)
    From outside the U.S., please call +1 (424) 750-3900


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OCAP believes that financial literacy and understanding the financial aid process are critical aspects of college planning and student success. OCAP staff who work with students, parents, educators and community partners in the areas of personal finance education, state and federal financial aid, and student loan management do not provide financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice. This website and all information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended to be construed as financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice.