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Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans

Who is Eligible for a Graduate PLUS Loan?
Graduate student borrowers must meet all federal financial aid requirements as well as institutional requirements regarding enrollment and academic eligibility. 
What Do I Need to Complete the Application?
The graduate student borrower must have a completed and Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) prior to submitting a Graduate PLUS Loan Request. Before submitting a Graduate PLUS Application, the student should calculate their estimated costs and resources to determine how much to borrow.

There is a 4.288% fee for Graduate PLUS Loans. It is important to consider this when determining your borrowing amount. For example, a $6,000 PLUS loan will yield a net disbursement total of $5,743.

Graduate student borrowers will also need the following information in order to complete an application:
  • Their Social Security Number
  • Their Date of Birth
  • Their Federal PIN
Students who need a duplicate PIN can obtain one by visiting the federal PIN website at www.pin.ed.gov.
Where Do I Complete the Application?
Graduate students can complete the online application at www.studentloans.gov and should click on ‘Request PLUS Loan’ to complete an application. A credit check is completed as part of the application process.

Tips for Completing the Application:
  • Complete an application for the current award year student will be enrolled at Columbia College Chicago.
  • Select ‘Illinois’ from the drop-down menu and select ‘Columbia College Chicago’ from the list of schools
  • SFS encourages all graduate student borrowers to keep loan debt to a minimum. Students should specify a loan amount based on the minimum amount needed after calculating the student’s estimated costs and resources.
  • Borrowers may also select ‘Maximum Direct PLUS Loan Amount’ when completing the application. If this option is chosen and the graduate student borrower is approved, SFS will determine your maximum eligibility at the time we process the application based on the your Cost of Attendance minus other financial aid already awarded.
If I'm Approved, What Are My Next Steps?
Graduate student borrowers who are approved are required to complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) available at www.studentloans.gov using their Federal PIN.  New graduate student borrowers will also be required to complete Entrance Counseling at www.studentloans.gov

The MPN is a legal document in which the graduate student borrower promises to repay the loan(s) and any accrued interest and fees to the Department of Education. The MPN also explains the terms and conditions of the loan(s). Graduate student borrowers will receive a disclosure statement that gives specific information about the loan scheduled to disburse under the MPN, including the loan amount, loan fees, and the expected loan disbursement dates and amounts.

To ensure students understand the responsibility and obligation as a borrower, the Department of Education requires first-time student borrowers to participate in a loan counseling session that outlines your rights and responsibilities as a graduate student borrower. Entrance Counseling is only required for new graduate student borrowers for the Stafford and Graduate PLUS Loans; however, only one entrance counseling session needs to be completed to satisfy the requirement for both loans. Graduate student borrowers can access the Entrance Counseling session at www.studentloans.gov and must be satisfactorily completed before the first disbursement of Stafford and PLUS loans can be made.
If I’m Denied, What Are My Next Steps?
If a graduate student borrower is denied due to adverse credit history and does not obtain an endorser, SFS will terminate the Graduate PLUS Loan Application. Denied graduate student borrowers may still borrow a PLUS loan by securing an endorser or appealing their credit decision.
What is the Endorser Option?
An endorser (cosigner) is someone who does not have adverse credit history. An endorser is someone who agrees to repay the Direct PLUS Loan if the borrower cannot meet the repayment terms of the loan.

SFS recommends graduate student borrowers pursuing this option to have the endorser complete the electronic endorser process at www.studentloans.gov. Endorsers can complete the online process as long as they know the PLUS Application ID (obtained from the borrower) and have a Federal PIN. Endorsers can apply for a PIN at www.pin.ed.gov

Graduate student borrowers may also print the paper endorser addendum on studentloans.gov and have the endorser complete and submit to the COD processing center. This process may take up to 4 weeks; therefore, SFS encourages graduate student borrowers to complete the electronic endorser process. If the paper endorser addendum is completed, the borrower will need to contact SFS and provide the following information:
  • Endorser Name
  • Endorser Social Security Number
  • Endorser Date of Birth
  • Amount the Endorser Approved

Once this information has been provided, please allow an additional 14 business days for SFS to process the PLUS Loan.

All other questions regarding the endorser process should be directed to the Direct Loan Applicant Services Center at 1-800-557-7394.
What is a Credit Appeal?
If a graduate student borrower is found to have adverse credit history and believes this decision to be in error, they may request to appeal the decision. Borrowers interested in credit decision appeals should contact the Direct Loan Applicant Services Center at 1-800-557-7394
How Do I Receive PLUS Loan Funds?
PLUS Loan funds are credited directly to your student account. The student borrower will be notified via email within 3 days of the disbursement to your student account. In order to have your Federal PLUS Loan funds disbursed by the student’s first day of classes, all requirements must be completed by:
  • June 1—Fall Semester
  • November 1—Spring Semester
What are the Terms and Conditions of a PLUS Loan?
The specific terms and conditions of the PLUS Loan are outlined in the MPN. The fixed interest rate is 6.41% with a 4.288% origination fee. Loan repayment begins once the student ceases to be enrolled at least half-time.
How Do I Cancel My PLUS Loan?
All loan cancellation requests can be completed using the Loan Adjustment  Form. Graduate student borrowers can request a cancellation or reduction to a PLUS loan at any time prior to disbursement. Once a disbursement has been made, graduate student borrowers have 30 days from the date of their disbursement notification to cancel the loan disbursement by completing a Student Loan Adjustment Request.
   
If a request is received after 30 days to cancel the loan, SFS will notify the graduate student borrower that we are unable to process the request. After the 30 day deadline, graduate student borrowers can ‘cancel’ all or a portion of their loan by repaying the amount in full to their Direct Loan Servicer.
How Do I Reduce My Loan?
SFS recommends borrowers request a reduction to their PLUS Loan by submitting the Student Loan Adjustment Request. Graduate students can request a reduction to a PLUS loan at any time prior to disbursement. Once a disbursement has been made, students may request a reduction to the loan at any time prior to the end of the student’s enrollment period. Graduate student borrowers should indicate on the form the gross amount of funds they wish to borrow each semester.

Graduate PLUS loans are subject to a 4.288% origination fee. If a graduate student borrower reduces his/her PLUS disbursements to $5,000 each semester, the net funds that will post to your student account each semester will be $4,786.
How Do I Increase My Loan?
Graduate student borrowers may request an increase using one of the following options.

  1. Graduate student borrowers can complete a new PLUS Request at www.studentloans.gov to request the additional amount of funds s/he would like to borrow. For example, if a student initially secured $10,000 and wants to borrow a total of $15,000 they would complete a new PLUS Request for $5,000.
  2. Graduate student borrowers may modify a previously secured PLUS loan at www.studentloans.gov and request the total amount of funds s/he would like to borrow. For example, if a borrower initially secured $10,000 and wants to borrow a total of $15,000 they would complete a PLUS loan modification and request $15,000.

NOTE: Borrowers should only modify PLUS loan applications that are less than 90 days old and modifications should be limited to loan funds (i.e. do not modify loan periods, refund options, etc)
Where Will My Refund be Sent?
SFS encourages all students to sign up for Direct Deposit (D2U) to expedite the refund process. Graduate student borrowers who do not have an active D2U profile will be sent a paper check to their mailing address.