Parents of dependent undergraduate students can use a PLUS loan to pay education costs and charges that they can’t otherwise cover, whether or not their student receives other financial aid. Borrowers must be U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens (resident aliens and other special immigration statuses).
Graduate students can use a graduate PLUS loan (Grad PLUS) to pay education costs that they can’t cover with their Federal Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans and other resources.
Note: Graduate students in the low-residency programs are not eligible for graduate PLUS loans because their loans cover approved education costs. Postbaccalaureate students are not eligible for a graduate PLUS loan.
- The student (and parent if dependent undergraduate) must have completed a FAFSA. The FAFSA is signed with a federal (FAFSA) PIN, available from pin.ed.gov. Parents of dependent undergraduates must sign the FAFSA with a separate parent PIN.
- The PLUS borrower (parent of a dependent undergraduate or post-baccalaureate student, or for a GradPLUS loan, a graduate student) completes the application, online at studentloans.gov.
- A federal PIN is needed for login; get one or retrieve a lost one at pin.ed.gov. Internet Explorer or Firefox should be used as the browser..
- A PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN), if required, is completed at the same time as the application.
- GradPLUS borrowers must also complete online loan entrance counseling if they are new to the PLUS program. Parent borrowers are not required to complete loan counseling.
- First-time PLUS borrowers, must submit a paper PLUS Loan Authorization to the Financial Aid Office.
- Notification of credit approval or denial comes directly from the Direct Loan program to the borrower.
- The PLUS loan is added to the student’s financial aid award.
- Loan funds are disbursed near the beginning of the academic term, after course registration is complete.
Basic Loan Information
- Interest rate. The interest rate for Federal Direct PLUS loans issued after July 1, 2006, is fixed at 7.9%. There is an interest rate reduction for borrowers who repay via automatic electronic debit.
- Loan fees. Loan fees are 4.0% and are taken from the loan before disbursement.
- Disbursement. A full-year loan is disbursed in two installments, half each term. The funds come directly to Bennington College early in each term, after course registration is complete.
- Interest accrual. PLUS loan interest begins to accrue when the loan is first disbursed.
- Repayment. Repayment begins when the loan is fully disbursed (often at the beginning of the spring term). Under some circumstances, borrowers can defer repayment while the student is still in school.
- Length of repayment. Most PLUS loans are repaid over 10 years, though other options, including loan consolidation, are available. More information is available online.
- Other options. Individuals may qualify for a variety of PLUS loan repayment adjustments, including alternative repayment schedules; limited deferment for unemployment, enrollment in school, economic hardship, or other specified circumstances; and loan cancellation in the event of death.
- Annual Loan Limit. Graduate students or parents may borrow up to annual education costs minus any other financial aid.
- To calculate PLUS repayment amounts
In Case of PLUS Loan Denial
After a PLUS loan is denied because of credit problems, the borrower has several options:
- The borrower may obtain a loan endorser. Also at studentloans.gov, the endorser may complete a process, endorsing the loan for up to a specific amount. An endorser packet will also be sent via mail to the PLUS applicant.
- The borrower may opt out of the PLUS loan process. If the PLUS borrower is a parent, their undergraduate student will then gain additional eligibility for an unsubsidized Direct Student Loan—up to $4000 per year for freshmen and sophomores and up to $5000 per year for juniors and seniors. (The student should be in touch with the Financial Aid Office to request additional loan funds.)
- The borrower may document extenuating circumstances relative to the adverse credit history or document that the information leading to the adverse decision is incorrect or has been corrected. Log into studentloans.gov and select "Document Extenuating Circumstances" on the left navigation bar, or contact Direct Loan applicant Services at the phone number below. The borrower will provide documentation of extenuating circumstances, and gives an email address and daytime and evening phone numbers to the Direct Loan Applicant Services Team.
Questions about a Direct PLUS Loan?
Online at studentaid.ed.gov
Bennington Financial Aid Office
802-440-4325 (8:30 am to 4:00 pm ET weekdays)
Department of Education Direct Loan Applicant Services: For questions about credit check approval or appeal, endorser questions, or other specific borrower issues.
800-557-7394 (8:00 am to 8:00 pm ET weekdays)