Financial Aid

Federal Direct Grad PLUS Loan

Graduate students who have utilized their maximum Federal Direct Loan eligibility may apply for a Federal Direct Grad PLUS Loan to help pay educational expenses, as long as certain eligibility requirements are met. Grad PLUS loans are issued in the student's name, and the student is responsible for repayment.

When considering all options to pay for school, you may also want to compare the Federal Grad PLUS Loan vs. private student loans using Sallie Mae's Understanding Gap Financing Options: PLUS Loan for Graduate Students and Private Student Loans.


To be eligible, the student borrower must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Be enrolled at least half-time (6 credit hours) in graduate-level coursework in an eligible degree program
  • Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Use their maximum Federal Direct Loan eligibility
  • Not have an adverse credit history (a credit check will be done) - see also Additional Information below

PLUS loans are considered financial aid and students must meet WIU Satisfactory Academic Progress Requirements to remain eligible to receive Grad PLUS funds.


PLUS loans are processed through the Federal Direct Loan Program and offer a fixed interest rate. See the current interest rates at's FAQ. Interest charges will begin when the loan is first disbursed. Student's may borrow up to their cost of attendance minus any other financial aid (e.g. loans, scholarships, waivers, etc.).


Before a Grad PLUS loan can be processed, the student must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Students may submit a Grad PLUS application after June 1 prior to the start of the academic year (for spring-only PLUS loans, please submit after November 1). It is highly recommended that students start this PLUS loan application process 6-8 weeks prior to the start of classes in order to better guarantee that the disbursement will arrive on time.

Grad PLUS loan applications  must be received by the Financial Aid Office while the student is actively enrolled,  giving a minimum one week notice to allow for processing. PLUS loans cannot be requested to pay a past due balance after enrollment has ended for that term.

To apply for a Grad PLUS loan:

  • Students will need to log in using their FSA ID and Password (used to electronically sign their FAFSA)
  • Applicants will need to specify a loan period -
    • If you would like your PLUS loan to be for the entire academic year (two disbursements - one fall, one spring), your loan period should be August of the academic year trhough May of the academic year.
    • If you would like your PLUS loan to be for the Fall semester only (one disbursement), your loan period should be August of the academic year through December of the academic year. 
    • If you would like your PLUS loan to be for the Spring semester only (one disbursement), apply after November 1 -  your loan period should be January of the academic year through May of the academic year. 
  • Applicants may specify the amount they wish to borrow, or allow the school to determine the maximum amount needed for the specified loan period.
  • Applicants will need to complete a Master Promissory Note, which is the borrower's agreement to terms and repayment.
  • First-time Grad PLUS borrowers will need to complete Grad PLUS Entrance Counseling. 

Additional Information

If the student does not pass the PLUS credit check, he/she may still receive the PLUS loan if an endorser is included (such as a relative or friend who is able to pass the credit check). The endorser promises to repay the loan if the student borrower fails to do so.

For each loan disbursement, a federal origination fee is deducted from each loan payment and is forwarded to the school by the Direct Loan Origination Center. View's FAQ for current origination fees

Repayment Info

Interest begins to accumulate after the first PLUS disbursement is made. The standard PLUS repayment period begins 60 days after the loan is fully disbursed. However, the student may elect to defer repayment if the student is enrolled on at least a half-time basis.

For additional information regarding repayment, contact your loan servicer after your application has been approved. Loan and servicer information can be found online using the National Student Loan Data System.