PLUS Loans | Federal Student Aid

PLUS loans are federal loans that graduate or professional students and parents of dependent undergraduate students can use to help pay for college or career school.

PLUS loans can help pay for education expenses not covered by other financial aid.

PLUS Loans

The U.S. Department of Education makes Direct PLUS Loans to eligible borrowers through schools participating in the Direct Loan Program.

Here’s a quick overview of Direct PLUS Loans:

  • The U.S. Department of Education is your lender.
  • You must not have an adverse credit history.
  • The maximum loan amount is the cost of attendance (determined by the school) minus any other financial aid received.

Am I eligible for a Direct PLUS Loan?
Can I still receive a Direct PLUS Loan if I have an adverse credit history?
How do I apply for a Direct PLUS Loan?
What additional steps must I take to receive my loan?
How much can I borrow?
What is the current interest rate?
Other than interest, is there a charge for this loan?
How will I receive my loan?
What happens after I receive my loan?
When do I begin repaying my loan?
What types of loan repayment plans are available?
What if I have trouble repaying my loan?
As a parent Direct PLUS Loan borrower, can I transfer responsibility for repaying the loan to my child?
Can I cancel a loan if I decide that I don't need it or if I need less than the amount offered?
Can my loan ever be forgiven (canceled) or discharged?
Where can I find information about the student loans I've received?


Am I eligible for a Direct PLUS Loan?

To receive a Direct PLUS Loan, you must

  • be a graduate or professional student enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school in a program leading to a graduate or professional degree or certificate, or be the parent (biological, adoptive, or in some cases, stepparent) of a dependent undergraduate student enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school;
  • not have an adverse credit history; and
  • meet the general eligibility requirements for federal student aid. If you are borrowing on behalf of your child, your child must also meet these requirements.

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Can I still receive a Direct PLUS Loan if I have an adverse credit history?

A credit check will be performed during the application process. If you have an adverse credit history, you may still receive a Direct PLUS Loan through one of these two options:

  1. Obtaining an endorser who does not have an adverse credit history. An endorser is someone who agrees to repay the Direct PLUS Loan if you do not repay it. If you are a parent borrower, the endorser cannot be the child on whose behalf you are borrowing.
  2. Documenting to the satisfaction of the U.S. Department of Education that there are extenuating circumstances relating to your adverse credit history.

With either option 1 or option 2, you also must complete credit counseling for PLUS loan borrowers on the StudentLoans.gov website.

If a parent borrower is unable to obtain a PLUS loan, the undergraduate dependent student may be eligible for additional unsubsidized loans. The student should contact the school’s financial aid office for more information.

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How do I apply for a Direct PLUS Loan?

To receive a Direct PLUS Loan, you (or your child, if you are a parent PLUS borrower) must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). The school's financial aid office will provide instructions about their process for requesting a Direct PLUS Loan. Many schools require that you request a Direct PLUS Loan at StudentLoans.gov. The request form has a list of schools that participate in the Direct PLUS Loan Program; if you select your (or your child’s) school from the list, the site will notify you if your school does not use the StudentLoans.gov process. If that is the case, check with the school to find out how to request a PLUS loan.   

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What additional steps must I take to receive my loan?

If you are eligible for a Direct PLUS Loan, you will be required to sign a Direct PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN), agreeing to the terms of the loan. Graduate or professional students who haven't previously received a PLUS loan will also be required to complete entrance counseling. Contact the financial aid office at the school you (or your child, if you are a parent borrower) are planning to attend for details regarding the process at that school.

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How much can I borrow?

The maximum PLUS loan amount you can borrow is the cost of attendance (determined by the school) minus any other financial assistance received.

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What is the current interest rate?

For Direct PLUS Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2015, and before July 1, 2016, the interest rate is 6.84%.

These are fixed interest rates for the life of the loan.

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Other than interest, is there a charge for this loan?

Yes, there is a loan fee on all Direct PLUS Loans. The loan fee is a percentage of the loan amount and is proportionately deducted from each loan disbursement. The percentage varies depending on when the loan is first disbursed, as shown in the chart below.

Loan Fees for Direct PLUS Loans

First Disbursement Date

Loan Fee

On or after Oct. 1, 2014, and before Oct. 1, 2015

4.292%

On or after Oct. 1, 2015, and before Oct. 1, 2016

4.272%

Loans first disbursed prior to Oct. 1, 2014, have different loan fees.

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How will I receive my loan?

The school will first apply Direct PLUS Loan funds to the school account to pay for tuition, fees, room and board, and other school charges. If any loan funds remain, your school will give them to you to help pay other education expenses. Get more information about receiving aid.

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What happens after I receive my loan?

When you receive your Direct PLUS Loan, you will be contacted by your loan servicer (you will repay your loan to the loan servicer). Your loan servicer will provide regular updates on the status of your Direct PLUS Loan, and any additional Direct Loans that you receive.

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When do I begin repaying my loan?

If you receive a Direct PLUS Loan as a graduate or professional student, you don't have to make any payments while you're enrolled in school at least half-time, and for an additional six months after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment. 

If you are a parent borrower, you’ll generally be expected to start making payments on your Direct PLUS Loan once your loan is fully disbursed (paid out). However, you may request a deferment while your child is enrolled at least half-time and for an additional six months after your child graduates, leaves school, or drops below half-time enrollment. You don't have to make any payments while your loan is deferred. If the school your child is attending requires you to submit your request for a Direct PLUS Loan at StudentLoans.gov, you’ll have the option of requesting a deferment as part of the loan request process. You can also contact your servicer to request a deferment.

During any period when you're not required to make payments, interest will accrue on your loan. You may choose to pay the accrued interest or allow the interest to be capitalized (added to your loan principal balance) when you have to start making payments. Your loan servicer will notify you when your first payment is due. 

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What types of loan repayment plans are available?

There are several repayment options available that are designed to meet the individual needs of borrowers. Some repayment plans are not available to parent PLUS borrowers. Your loan servicer can help you understand which repayment options are available to you. Generally, you'll have 10 to 25 years to repay your loan, depending on the repayment plan that you choose. Learn about your repayment options.

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What if I have trouble repaying my loan?

If you are unable to make your scheduled loan payments, contact your loan servicer immediately. Your servicer can help you understand your options for keeping your loan in good standing. For example, you may wish to change your repayment plan to lower your monthly payment or request a deferment or forbearance that allows you to temporarily stop or lower the payments on your loan. Learn more about deferment or forbearance options.

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As a parent Direct PLUS Loan borrower, can I transfer responsibility for repaying the loan to my child?

No, a Direct PLUS Loan made to a parent cannot be transferred to the child. You, the parent borrower, are legally responsible for repaying the loan.

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Can I cancel a loan if I decide that I don’t need it or if I need less than the amount offered?

Yes. Before your loan money is disbursed, you may cancel all or part of your loan at any time by notifying the school. After your loan is disbursed, you may cancel all or part of the loan within certain time frames. Your promissory note and additional information you receive from the school will explain the procedures and time frames for canceling your loan.

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Can my loan ever be forgiven (canceled) or discharged?

Under certain conditions, you may be eligible to have all or part of your loan forgiven (canceled) or discharged. Find out about loan forgiveness, cancellation, or discharge.

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Where can I find information about the student loans I’ve received?

Visit My Federal Student Aid to view information about all of the federal student loans and other financial aid you have received and to get contact information for your loan servicer.

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