PLUS loans are federal loans that graduate or professional degree students and parents of dependent undergraduate students can use to help pay education expenses. 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 the lender.
- The borrower must not have an adverse credit history.
- The maximum loan amount is the student’s cost of attendance (determined by the school) minus any other financial aid received.
Am I eligible for a Direct PLUS Loan?
To receive a Direct PLUS Loan, you must
- be a graduate or professional degree student enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school in a program leading to a 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 a participating school;
- not have an adverse credit history; and
How do I apply for a Direct PLUS Loan?
In order to receive a Direct PLUS loan, you (or your child, in the case of parent PLUS loan borrowers) 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/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, you should check with the school to find out how to request a PLUS loan.
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 via one of these two options:
Once you have completed either option 1 or option 2 above, you also must complete credit counseling for PLUS loan borrowers on the StudentLoans.gov website.
If a parent borrower is unable to secure a PLUS loan, the undergraduate dependent student may be eligible for additional unsubsidized loans to help pay for his or her education. The dependent student should contact the school’s financial aid office for more information.
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