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Activate Federal Parent Loan (PLUS)


Both the student and the parent borrower must meet specific eligibility requirements to qualify for the Parent PLUS Loan. The first step is to have a completed FAFSA on file.

Your student must

  • Meet Federal and CMU financial aid eligibility requirements.
  • Be a dependent (based on FAFSA data) undergraduate student.
  • Be enrolled in a degree-seeking program.
  • Be enrolled in at least 6 credits (half-time).
  • Meet the minimum requirements for Satisfactory Academic Progress.

The parent borrower must

  • Be the biological, adoptive, or step-parent on the FAFSA of the dependent student.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen (permanent resident).
  • Not be in default on repayment of federal aid.
  • Consent to and pass a credit check by the U.S. Department of Education.

*For the 2024/25 academic year, parents will not be offered the PLUS loan upfront, you must go to to complete the application and Master Promissory Note (MPN).  

Before you apply

Determine the loan period for which you plan to apply. If your student is planning to be enrolled for both fall and spring semesters, we recommend that 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.

Interest rate and origination fees

  • The interest rate for PLUS loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2023 is fixed at 8.05%. 
  • The loan origination fee for PLUS loans disbursed on or after Oct. 1, 2020 is 4.228%.
  • The Department of Education sets interest rates and fees annually. 
  • Complete information on interest rates and fees are available on the website.


Parents will apply for the Direct Parent PLUS Loan on Like the FAFSA, Direct Parent PLUS Loans must be requested each academic year.

You must log on to with your own FSA ID. If you are not the parent on the FAFSA and do not have an FSA ID, you will need to create one before applying for the Direct Parent PLUS Loan.

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

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 Direct PLUS loan denial.

If your application has been denied, the Department of Education has an appeal process.  Information about the appeal process for a Parent Plus Loan denial is on the website.

Application approved

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

  • Is listed as the borrower of the loan
  • Is not enrolled in a degree-seeking program
  • Does not have a FAFSA on file for CMU
  • Has not been awarded their federal aid eligibility (either we have not started awarding or your student is not eligible for federal aid)

First-time parent borrowers are required to complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) for the Direct Parent PLUS Loan at The Master Promissory Note must be signed for the loan to appear as a credit on the bill and disburse to the student account.

In most cases, you will need to complete only one multi-year MPN. However, a new MPN is necessary if a different parent/stepparent wishes to borrow on behalf of the student or if the parent borrower had a previous PLUS Loan that required an endorser.

If you have technical difficulty signing the MPN, please contact the U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid Information Center | Help Center at 800 433 3243 or 1 800 4 fed aid.

PLUS Credit Counseling. PLUS credit counseling is required when the U.S. Department of Education has informed you that you must complete PLUS counseling. PLUS borrowers notified to complete PLUS counseling must:

Selecting a loan amount

When completing the application, you will be given the following three options to indicate how much PLUS Loan you wish to borrow:

  1. I want to borrow the maximum Direct PLUS loan amount for which I am eligible, as determined by the school. By choosing "maximum" you are authorizing the University to process the maximum amount of PLUS loan for your student's financial aid package. This is determined by taking total cost of attendance minus other financial assistance (OFA).
  2. I would like to specify a loan amount. By entering a specific dollar amount, your loan will be limited to the amount you enter or to the total Parent PLUS Loan amount offered, whichever is lower.
  3. I do not know the amount I want to borrow. I will contact the school. CMU will process the PLUS loan to the maximum amount of PLUS for your student's financial aid package. You do not need to contact the school. You are not required to apply for your maximum eligibility. If you plan to use funds from your current income or savings to make payments for your student's education, you may want to subtract the amount you plan to pay and determine the amount you only need to borrow. If you do not plan to use any funds from your own resources, then you may want to borrow the maximum eligibility for your student's financial aid package.

Please note: Credit approvals are good for 180 days. If the credit approval has expired, increases in loan eligibility will be subject to new credit approval.

Please note: PLUS loan adjustments may be changed by submitting a Federal Parent Loan Adjustment Form found on the OSFA-Forms Page to the Financial Aid Office.

Authorizing a refund payment

Upon disbursement, your PLUS loan will automatically pay any current-year charges on your student's account. If PLUS funds are remaining after the charges are paid, the balance will be issued as a refund. As the parent borrower, it is up to you to decide who will receive the refund. When completing the online PLUS application, you will be asked the following question:

"If there is a credit balance after your Direct PLUS Loan has been applied to the student's school account, to whom do you want the school to pay the credit balance?"

You will have two options:

  1. Me (parent borrower). If you choose to have the refund issued to you (the parent borrower), the refund process will be delayed due to additional internal processes.
  2. The student. If you choose to have the refund issued to your student, the refund will be processed within 7 to 10 business days from the date of disbursement of the loan.

Options if credit is denied

The final step of the online PLUS application is the credit check. If your credit is not approved, you will know immediately upon completing the application. You will be asked what you intend to do:

  1. Appeal the decision. Do this if you know there is an error on your credit record.
  2. Get an endorser. If you are pursuing an endorser, the endorser must go to the website and complete the "Endorse a Direct PLUS Loan" section. The endorser must have his or her own FSA ID ( If your endorser chooses to complete a paper endorser application, please note this can cause processing delays and you will need to contact the financial aid office to let us know you have submitted a paper endorser application. For this reason, we suggest that your endorser complete the online endorser application.
  3. Not pursue an endorser. If you are denied and you indicate on the application that you do not intend to pursue an endorser, we will automatically offer your student an additional Unsubsidized Direct Loan as a replacement.
    • Freshmen and sophomores can borrow a maximum of $4,000
    • Juniors and seniors can borrow a maximum of $5,000
  4. Undecided. If you say "Undecided", we will automatically offer your student an additional Unsubsidized Direct Loan.
  • Note: If the PLUS loan is approved with an endorser the student is no longer eligible for the additional Unsubsidized loan mentioned above.

Calculating your payments

An estimate of the payment may be found using this link to the Federal Student Aid website:

PLUS loan exemption

Per federal regulations, if a parent can document through sufficient 3rd party supporting documentation the existence of other extenuating circumstances, the student also may be eligible for the additional unsubsidized loan.

Some examples of extenuating circumstances would be:

  • Incarceration of parent
  • Parent has filed bankruptcy, and unable to incur additional debt per filing regulations.
  • Parents income is limited due to public assistance or disability benefits.
  • Inability to pay based on income-to-debt ratio.
  • Parent of dependent student is not a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident, or unable to provide evidence that they are in the U.S. for a reason that is not to become a citizen or permanent resident.

The amounts for the additional unsubsidized loan that could be awarded to students if approved are:

  • Freshman/Sophomore (0-55 credits): $4,000
  • Junior/Senior (56+ credits): $5,000

If you believe you qualify for a PLUS Loan exemption, please complete this form and submit it through the students' financial aid portal.