Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans

The Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan is a credit-based supplemental loan that assists students in meeting the cost of attendance.  Unlike a private education loan, the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan is borrowed through the U.S. Department of Education.



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

  • Be a graduate or professional student
  • Meet full federal eligibility
  • Complete a FAFSA 
  • Before borrowing, consider the full amount for which you are eligible under the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan
  • Complete entrance counseling and a Master Promissory Note
  • Pass a credit review and must not have adverse credit, which is defined as:
    -   A current 90-day or more delinquency
    -   Debt discharged in bankruptcy during the past five years
    -   Evidence of a default, foreclosure, tax lien, repossession, wage garnishment, or write-off of a Title IV debt during the past five years

For more information about credit, see our page on Good Credit and Student Borrowers.


1. Complete entrance counseling and a Master Promissory Note:

  • Go to Direct Loan website www.studentloans.gov
  • Sign into Manage My Direct Loan using your Social Security Number, the last two letters of your last name, your date of birth and your FSA ID. In prior years, student and parent borrowers logged in using a federal PIN, but effective May 10, 2015, an FSA ID replaces the PIN. If you do not have an FSA ID, the website will prompt you to create one. Note that it may take up to three days for the system to verify your identity when you create a new FSA ID.
  • Click on "Complete Entrance Counseling" (middle of the page)
  • After completing entrance counseling, click on "Complete Master Promissory Note"
  • Select Type of Loan and click on "Graduate PLUS"
  • Once the credit check is processed, you will receive a letter indicating whether your loan has been approved or denied. 

2. Please contact your school's financial aid office for additional information and to initiate a credit check authorization on your Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan.

Annual and Aggregate Loan Limits

The student budget or cost of attendance represents the maximum aid you can be awarded through any combination of scholarships, fellowships, federal and private loans certified through Columbia University for the academic year. To determine the maximum amount you can borrow in this loan, take the cost of attendance and subtract any other financial aid awards (including maximum Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans).

Please Note: You can apply to cover the mandatory loan origination fee.

There is no aggregate loan limit for Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan.

Interest Rate

For loans first disbursed between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014 this rate is fixed at 6.41%. Interest accrues from the date of disbursement. Interest can be paid while enrolled or deferred and capitalized at the time of repayment.

For loans first disbursed after July 1, 2014, the interest rate is fixed at 7.21%.

The interest rate cap is 10.5%.

Mandatory Fees

Loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 2014 and before October 1, 2015 have the origination fee of 4.292%.

Loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 2015 and before October 1, 2016 have the origination fee of 4.272%.


Loan funds are disbursed to the student account. For more information on requesting a refund for the balance on your student account, please see Billing and Payments


For more information, please see Federal Loan Repayment.