About the Graduate PLUS Loan

The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 has modified the PLUS program (formerly a federal loan for parents) to allow graduate students to borrow under this federal program as well.


To be eligible for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, you must:

  • Be a graduate student enrolled in an eligible program
  • Submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Be awarded for your full Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan eligibility
  • Consent to and pass a credit check conducted by the U.S. Department of Education

Before you Apply

Determine the loan period for which you plan to apply. If you are planning to enroll for both fall and spring semesters, we recommend you apply for the fall/spring loan term. The summer loan term cannot be combined with other terms.

If you choose a fall/spring loan period, the amount of the loan will be split equally between the two semesters; so the disbursement of a $10,000 fall/spring loan would be $5,000 for the fall semester and $5,000 for the spring semester.

Loan For
Aid Year
Loan Period
Academic Year 2021-2022
(Fall 2021/Spring 2022)
August 2021-May 2022
Spring 2022
January - May 2022
Summer 2021
May - August  2021

Interest Rate

The fixed interest rate for Direct Graduate PLUS Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 20205.30%
The fixed interest rate for Direct Graduate PLUS Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 20216.28%

Origination Fee

The origination fee for loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 20194.236%
The origination fee for loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 20204.228%


Graduate students will apply for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan on https://studentaid.gov/. Like the FAFSA, PLUS Loans must be requested each academic year.

Preview a read-only version of the Direct Graduate PLUS application here.

Credit Check

You will be notified at the time that you submit your application if your credit has been approved or denied.

Your debt-to-income ratio, credit score, and employment status are not taken into consideration; however, adverse credit typically results in a PLUS loan denial.

For more information about adverse credit, visit federal student aid.

If you are denied the Direct Graduate PLUS loan, download the plus adverse credit pdf for more options.

Application Approved

If your application has been approved, CMU will receive notification of the approval in 2-3 business days. The financial aid portal will be updated to reflect the approved Graduate PLUS loan.

Processing for the upcoming academic year will begin in July. Spring-only in October, and Summer in April.

The application will NOT process if:

  • You are not enrolled in a degree-seeking graduate program
  • You do not have a FAFSA on file for CMU
  • You have not been awarded your federal aid eligibility (either we have not started awarding or you are not eligible for federal aid)
  • You are in default on a previous federal loan

First-time borrowers are required to Complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and Entrance Counseling for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan at studentaid.gov. The Master Promissory Note and Counseling must be signed/completed for the loan to appear as a credit on the bill and disburse into your student account.

In most cases, you will only need to complete these items once during your college career. You do not need to sign a new MPN for every application submitted; unless your application is denied and then later approved with an endorser or it has been longer than 10 years since you have last signed a note.

You can preview a copy of the Grad MPN or Grad Entrance Counseling on studentaid.gov or for more information and/or to complete the MPN or Counseling log onto studentaid.gov.

If you have technical difficulty signing the MPN, please contact the U.S. Department of Education's Student Loan Support Center at 800-557-7394.

Apply for the Direct Graduate PLUS loan