Direct Graduate PLUS Loan

Graduate and professional students may wish to consider this low-interest, credit-based federal loan to cover their college expenses.


To qualify, you must:

Be enrolled at least half-time:

Graduate students must register for four (4) or more units.

Doctoral students must register for three (3) or more units or be enrolled in a course considered full-time by the registrar (thesis/dissertation).

Be enrolled for the number of units indicated in your Financial Aid Summary;

Submit all required documents;

Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress;

Maintain loan eligibility;

Have already borrowed the maximum amount for a Direct Loan; and

Meet established federal credit criteria or apply with an endorser who meets the criteria. (The Direct Loan Servicer will perform a credit check.)

Credit Requirements

The student's credit report must be free of the following adverse items:

Currently 90 days or more delinquent on repayment of any debt.

Debt placed in collection or charged off (written off) within the past two years.

Evidence of a bankruptcy, default, discharge, foreclosure, tax lien, repossession, wage garnishment, or write-off of a debt during the past five years.

Collection accounts or charge-offs with a balance greater than $2,085.

If you are considered ineligible for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan due to adverse credit, you may still participate in the PLUS Loan program through an approved appeal or approved endorser (co-borrower) application. Borrowers approved with endorsers or appeals will need to complete PLUS Counseling. More information regarding the PLUS Loan Credit appeals, endorser applications, and PLUS Counseling can be found on

General Information

Interest Rate

Fixed at 7.54 percent for loans first disbursed between July 1, 2022 - June 30, 2023

Fixed at 6.28 percent for loans first disbursed between July 1, 2021 - June 30, 2022

Repayment: The 10-year repayment period begins six months after you graduate, withdraw or drop below half-time enrollment. To reduce the cost of borrowing, consider making interest-only payments while you are in school.

Disbursement: Generally disbursed in two equal parts, one at the beginning of each semester.

Penalties: There is no penalty for early repayment.

A Federal Origination Fee will be deducted from each disbursement:

4.228 percent for all loans made on or after October 1, 2020, and before October 1, 2023

Benefits of the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan

Borrow up to the USC estimated cost of attendance: tuition, mandatory fees, housing and dining, books and supplies, and even transportation, less other aid received.

Fixed interest rate.

No prepayment penalty.

No income-to-debt ratio.

Credit check is less strict than that for private student loans.

Students who do not meet the credit requirements may apply with a co-signer (called an "endorser").

Postpone payments up to 60 months while student is in school at least half-time.

Payment flexibility: Income-based, graduated and extended payment options.

Accrued interest capitalizes once at repayment.

Student may reduce cost of borrowing by making payments while in school.

Federally insured against death and total disability.


How to Apply

Be sure you have exhausted your full Federal Direct Loan eligibility before applying. (See Qualification above.)

Visit to complete the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan request.

Sign in, then click on Request a Direct PLUS Loan. Once you have completed the process, the Department of Education will notify us electronically.

USC processes a separate GRAD PLUS Loan for each enrolled term. If you wish to borrow the GRAD PLUS Loan for multiple terms, please submit a separate application for each term. Credit is checked once every 180-days for those with multiple applications.

Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for need-based aid.

Submit the Financial Aid Supplement for the appropriate year to the Financial Aid Office.


Receiving Your Funds

Once the Financial Aid Office processes your Direct Graduate PLUS Loan and notifies the Department of Education, we will email you confirmation.

The Direct Loan Servicer will then perform a credit check.

If your application is approved, you will need to sign your Master Promissory note (MPN) online at

You will need the FSA ID issued to you by the Department of Education when you completed your FAFSA. If you have forgotten your FSA ID, you will be able to retrieve it through

You will not be required to complete a new MPN if all of the following are true:

You previously borrowed a Graduate PLUS Loan at another school.

Your existing MPN is not more than 10 years old.

Your previous loans were approved without an endorser.

Loan Counseling Requirements

Entrance Loan Counseling

First-time borrowers of Direct and Direct Graduate PLUS Loans at USC are required to complete entrance loan counseling at iGrad.

Exit Loan Counseling

If you are graduating, on a leave of absence or enrolled less than half-time, federal regulations and university policy require you to complete Exit Loan Counseling.