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Federal Direct Graduate PLUS

Last updated on May 15, 2024

The Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan is a fixed interest loan program that enables graduate students to borrow directly from the U.S. Department of Education to help pay for their educational expenses.

  • This loan has many benefits such as a fixed interest rate, high credit approval rate and streamlined application process. Loan payments can be deferred while in school at least half time and the loan has flexible repayment options. As part of the Federal Direct Loan Program, this loan would also conveniently become part of your loan account that contains your Federal Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan(s), thus reducing your number of lenders.
  • These credit-based loans are not determined by financial need. Graduate PLUS Loans are financed directly by the U.S. government, so you do not need to choose a lender.

Eligibility Requirements

  • You must file a FAFSA to be considered for the loan
  • You must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree program at California College of the Arts
  • You must be a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident
  • Direct Graduate PLUS Loans are available to graduate or professional degree students regardless of financial need

Interest Rate

The interest on Graduate PLUS loans begins to accrue immediately upon disbursement and is generally capitalized (added to the principal amount borrowed) when the student is no longer enrolled at least half-time.

Graduate PLUS Loans First Disbursed on or After July 1, 2023, and Before July 1, 2024


Loan Origination Fee

Most federal student loans have loan origination fees. These fees are a percentage of the total loan amount. A loan origination fee comes out of the amount of money that is disbursed (paid out) to you while you’re in school. This means the money you receive will be less than the amount you actually borrow.

Graduate PLUS Loans Disbursed on or After October 1, 2020 and Before October 1, 2024


How to Apply for Graduate PLUS Loan

Steps to Apply for a Graduate Plus Loan:

Step 1: Login to and apply for the loan using our federal school code, 001127. You will receive a notification via email from the Department of Education, indicating the approval or denial of your loan.

Step 2: If your graduate plus loan has been approved, complete the PLUS Master Promissory Note (MPN).

  • Please see Credit Denial Options if your loan application has been denied.

Step 3: Once our office receives your loan application, we will award your Graduate PLUS loan in your financial aid award package.

Important Notes

Graduate Plus Loan Terms:

  • Graduate students may borrow up to the full cost of attendance minus financial aid and outside resources.
  • Credit check required.
  • Begins accruing interest at the time of disbursement. Principal and/or interest payments may be deferred until after the student is not enrolled or is enrolled less than half-time.
  • Interest and loan origination processing fees for the year are determined annually on July 1.
  • Loan origination processing fee is deducted from each disbursement.
  • First loan repayment is due within 60 days of the final annual disbursement, unless you choose to fully defer payments until you cease to be enrolled in school or fall below half time enrollment.

The Graduate PLUS Loan must be applied for and approved no later than 10 business days prior to the end of your term of enrollment or an academic year. Awards not applied for and approved by this time (including all required loan documents) cannot be processed. 

Credit Criteria:

Credit approval is based on federally mandated criteria, not a credit score. In order to qualify, you must not have any of the following items on your credit report:

  • Any debt that is 90 or more days delinquent or that are in collection or have been charged off during the two years preceding the date of your credit check, but only if the total combined outstanding balance of those debts is greater than $2,085.
  • Any of the following within the preceding five years of the date of the credit check: default, bankruptcy, discharge, foreclosure, repossession, tax lien, wage garnishment, write-off of a Title IV debt, open collection. 
  • If you have a freeze on your credit report, this may prevent the required credit check from being run, which will result in a pending credit status that will need to be resolved for the credit check to run.  If possible, it is best to lift the credit freeze prior to accepting your Graduate PLUS loan, to avoid a "pending" credit status.

Credit Approval:

Credit approval is valid for 180 days from the date it was approved. Your credit is evaluated every time you request a new loan unless you have had a credit decision within the preceding 180 days.

If you think you may have one or more of the items outlined in the credit requirements listed above you may want to obtain your credit report in advance of applying for a Graduate PLUS Loan. You should work to correct negative items on your credit report as soon as possible.

Credit Denial Options:

  • Applying for the loan with an endorser, which is a credit worthy loan cosigner.
  • Correct any invalid information on your credit report and reapplying.
  • Appeal the denial with the Student Loan Support Center (see below for contact information) due to extenuating circumstances relating to your adverse credit history.
  • Correspondence will be sent to Grad PLUS Loan applicants who receive an adverse credit determination. Information will include instructions regarding appealing the denial of a Grad PLUS Loan Application and securing an endorser for the loan.

With either option above you also must complete credit counseling for PLUS loan borrowers on the website

Student Loan Support Center for Graduate PLUS Loan Applicants & Borrowers

Phone: 1-800-557-7394 
8 a.m. – 8 p.m. EST; Monday to Friday
877-461-7010 TDD

Grad PLUS Loan Borrowers can contact the Support Center for:

  • Appealing a credit decision
  • Endorser application questions
  • Assistance with the website