Information For:

Give back to HGSE and support the next generation of passionate educators and innovative leaders.

Financial Aid & Tuition

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Program (Grad PLUS)

The Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan is a fixed interest supplemental loan program that enables graduate students to borrow directly from the U.S. Department of Education to help pay for their educational expenses. The Program is administered by the Harvard Graduate School of Education Financial Aid Office, which works with the U.S. Department of Education to offer this loan. This loan is only available to U.S. Citizens and permanent residents; students must be enrolled in a minimum 6 credits per term in a degree-granting program (residential or online) to be eligible.

This loan has many benefits such as a fixed interest rate, high credit approval rate and streamlined application process. Loan payments can be deferred while in school at least half time and the loan has flexible repayment options. As part of the Federal Direct Loan Program, this loan would also conveniently become part of your loan account that contains your Federal Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan(s), thus reducing your number of lenders. Since Harvard University participates in the Federal Direct Loan Program this is the only supplemental loan that is recommended by the HGSE Financial Aid Office, however students may select any supplemental loan of their choice.

The 2022-2023 Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Application is available here. After submitting your application the HGSE Financial Aid Office will be notified and we will work to add the approved loan to your financial aid package- please allow several business days for this process to be completed. The 2023-2024 Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Application will be available in May 2023.

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Eligibility

The Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan (Grad PLUS) is available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. It is not based on need, however you must still file the FAFSA to be eligible. You must be enrolled at least half-time in a graduate degree-granting program (residential or online) and meet basic credit criteria set by the U.S. Department of Education to be eligible for this loan.

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Limits and Terms

You may borrow up to the full student budget less total financial aid from all sources. The interest rate is fixed at 7.543% for 2022-2023 loans. There is a 4.228% loan origination fee deducted from the loan by the U.S. Department of Education for loans with a first disbursement date prior to October 1, 2023 (for example: if you borrow a $10,000 Grad PLUS Loan a net disbursement of about $9,577 will be applied to your account). The Grad PLUS Loan is credit-based and requires credit approval by the U.S. Department of Education.

Refer to the Federal Student Aid website for additional information regarding Direct Grad PLUS Loans.

Student Loan Support Center for Grad PLUS Loan Applicants & Borrowers

Phone: 1-800-557-7394 
8 a.m. – 8 p.m. EST
Monday to Friday
877-461-7010 TDD

Grad PLUS Loan Borrowers can contact the Support Center for:

  • Appealing a credit decision
  • Endorser application questions
  • Assistance with the StudentLoans.gov website

Credit Criteria

Credit approval is based on federally mandated criteria, not a credit score. In order to qualify, you must not have any of the following items on your credit report:

  • Any debt that is 90 or more days delinquent or that are in collection or have been charged off during the two years preceding the date of your credit check, but only if the total combined outstanding balance of those debts is greater than $2,085.
  • Any of the following within the preceding five years of the date of the credit check: default, bankruptcy, discharge, foreclosure, repossession, tax lien, wage garnishment, write-off of a Title IV debt, open collection. 

Credit Approval

Credit approval is valid for 180 days. Your credit is evaluated every time you request a new loan unless you have had a credit decision within the preceding 180 days.

If you think you may have one or more of the items outlined in the credit requirements listed above you may want to obtain your credit report in advance of applying for a Grad PLUS Loan. You should work to correct negative items on your credit report as soon as possible.

Credit denial options include:

  • Applying for the loan with an endorser, which is a credit worthy loan cosigner.
  • Correct any invalid information on your credit report and reapplying.
  • Appeal the denial with the Student Loan Support Center (see above for contact information) due to extenuating circumstances relating to your adverse credit history.
  • Correspondence will be sent to Grad PLUS Loan applicants who receive an adverse credit determination. Information will include instructions regarding appealing the denial of a Grad PLUS Loan Application and securing an endorser for the loan.

Federal Direct Grad PLUS Loan Repayment

Repayment can be managed on the website of your loan servicer, which will be assigned to you by the U.S. Department of Education. While the interest rate on the loan is fixed, interest starts accruing on the loan at the time of disbursement to Harvard. Payments can be deferred until after graduation while you are enrolled at least half time. Accrued interest can be paid quarterly while you are in school or capitalized (added) the loan when you enter repayment if you prefer. You will accrue future interest based on the higher principle balance while in repayment. The U.S. Department of Education has a loan repayment calculator that can help estimate your loan repayment options.

Loan Application

The 2022-2023 Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan application is available here. After submitting your application the HGSE Financial Aid Office will be notified and we will work to add the approved loan to your financial aid package, please allow several business days for this process to be completed. The 2023-2024 Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Application will be available in May 2023.