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

*Your enrollment status will be calculated based only on those courses that are required for, or that can be applied as an eligible elective credit toward, your degree or certificate program.

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 considered ineligible for the Federal Direct Grad 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 Enhanced PLUS Counseling. More information regarding the PLUS Loan Credit appeals, endorser applications, and Enhanced PLUS Counseling can be found on

how to apply

You must first exhaust your full Federal Stafford Loan eligibility to be considered for a Graduate PLUS Loan.

  • Complete the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan request, by visiting and signing 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 PLUS Loan for each enrolled term. If you wish to borrow the 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 Enrollment and Housing (Supplemental) Form for the appropriate year to the Financial Aid Office.  Log into My Financial and Documents and click on "Document Library" to access the form.

receiving your funds

Once the Financial Aid Office processes your Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan and notifies the Department of Education, we will e-mail you confirmation. The Federal Direct Loan Servicer will then perform a credit check.

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

  • You will need the Personal Identification Number (PIN) issued to you by the Department of Education when you completed your FAFSA. If you have forgotten your PIN, you will be able to retrieve it through
  • You will not be required to complete a new MPN if:
    • You previously borrowed a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan at another school;
    • Your existing MPN is not more than 10 years old; and
    • Your previous loans(s) were approved without an endorser.

general information

The current interest rate is fixed at 7.21 percent for all loans first disbursed between July 1, 2014 - June 30, 2015.

The ten-year repayment period begins six (6) 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.

Your loan is generally disbursed in two equal parts, one at the beginning of each semester.

There is no penalty for early repayment.

A Federal Origination Fee will be deducted from each disbursement:

  • 4.292 percent for all loans made on or after October 1, 2014
  • 4.272 percent for all loans made on or after October 1, 2015

Benefits of the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan

  • Borrow up to the USC estimated cost of attendance: tuition, mandatory fees, room and board, 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.
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