How to Apply for a Direct Graduate PLUS Loan


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

  • Meet Federal and Penn State Financial Aid Eligibility Requirements
  • Be a graduate student enrolled in an eligible program
  • Submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Be awarded for your full Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan eligibility
  • Consent to and pass a credit check conducted by the U.S. Department of Education

Before You Apply

Pick the loan period and calculate how much you want to borrow.

If you choose a fall/spring loan period, the amount of the loan will be split equally between the two semesters; so the disbursement of a $10,000 fall/spring loan would be $5,000 for the fall semester and $5,000 for the spring semester.

There are four loan term periods:

Term Period Application Opens
Fall/Spring August to May June
Fall only August to December June
Spring only January to May October
Summer only May to August April

Interest Rate

The fixed interest rate for Direct Graduate PLUS Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2020 5.30%
The fixed interest rate for Direct Graduate PLUS Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2021 6.28%

Origination Fee

The origination fee for loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 2019 4.236%
The origination fee for loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 2020 4.228%

Create a Student Budget

The total amount you can borrow is equal to your Cost of Attendance minus other Estimated Aid (these figures are listed on your Award Summary in LionPATH). If you need additional assistance, you can use our Interactive Loan Calculation Tool.

Calculate the Loan Fee (Net vs. Gross) for 2021-22

Divide the total loan amount you want to borrow by 0.9372. For example, to receive a net amount of $10,000, request a gross amount of $10,670 ($10,000/0.9372 = $10,670)

Your approved and accepted Direct Graduate PLUS loan will appear on both the Award Summary and Student Account Statement in LionPATH, however, the loan amounts will be different.

The loan amount on the Award Summary is the gross amount. In contrast, the Tuition Bill shows the net amount after the loan origination fees have been deducted.


Graduate students will need to apply for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan on Like the FAFSA, PLUS Loans must be requested each academic year.

Preview a read-only version of the Direct Graduate PLUS application here.

Credit Check

You will be notified at the time that you submit your application if your credit has been approved or denied.

Your debt-to-income ratio, credit score, and employment status are not taken into consideration; however, adverse credit typically results in a PLUS loan denial.

For more information about adverse credit, visit federal student aid.

If you are denied the Direct Graduate PLUS loan, download the plus adverse credit pdf for more options.

Application Approved

If your application has been credit approved, your application will be sent electronically to us within 2-3 business days. Once the information has been loaded into LionPATH, we will process the application and add the Direct Graduate PLUS to your Award Summary. Processing for the upcoming academic year will begin in July. Spring-only in October, and Summer in April.

The application will NOT process if:

  • You are not enrolled in a degree-seeking graduate program
  • You do not have a FAFSA on file for Penn State
  • You have not been awarded your federal aid eligibility (either we have not started awarding or you are not eligible for federal aid)
  • You are in default on a previous federal loan

First-time borrowers are required to Complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and Entrance Counseling for the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan at The Master Promissory Note and Counseling must be signed/completed for the loan to appear as a credit on the bill and disburse into your student account.

In most cases, you will only need to complete these items once during your college career. You do not need to sign a new MPN for every application submitted; unless your application is denied and then later approved with an endorser or it has been longer than 10 years since you have last signed a note.

You can complete these requirements at any time once you have been accepted to Penn State. Once we begin to process your loan(s), these items will be presented to you in your ‘To Do List’ in LionPATH if they are still incomplete. Once completed on, notification will be sent electronically to us within approximately 2-3 business days. At that time, your To Do List item will be removed from your LionPATH record.

You can preview a copy of the Grad MPN or Grad Entrance Counseling on or for more information and/or to complete the the MPN or Counseling log into

If you have technical difficulty signing the MPN, please contact the U.S. Department of Education's Student Loan Support Center at 800-557-7394.

Apply for the Direct Graduate PLUS loan