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Federal Student Loan Options for Graduate/Professional Students

Federal Direct Loans

How do I apply for this loan and am I eligible?
Your eligibility is determined by the information you provide on the FAFSA. Please note that students must meet federal eligibility requirements to qualify for these loans.

If you have received a financial aid notification letter from our office and a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan has already been awarded to you, and you are a first-time borrower, you may proceed to the U.S. Department of Education's website,, to complete the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan Master Promissory Note and Entrance Counseling. You will need your FSA ID and password in order to login to the website.

How much can I borrow?
You can borrow up to $20,500 in the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan for the academic year. You are responsible for the interest from the time the unsubsidized loan is disbursed until it is repaid in full. You can choose to pay the interest while you are in school or allow it to accrue (accumulate) and be capitalized (that is, added to the principal amount of your loan). Capitalizing the interest will increase the amount you will have to repay over the life of the loan.

Aggregate borrowing limits are $138,500 for graduate or professional students. The graduate debt limit includes all federal loans received for undergraduate study.

What is the interest rate and what fees are charged for this loan?
Interest rates for all federal loans are set by Congress.

When do I begin repaying the loan?
Repayment of Federal Direct Loans plus any accumulated interest begins six months (called the grace period) after you drop below half-time enrollment status. Normally, this occurs when you graduate or if you leave school for some other reason.

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan

How do I apply for this loan?
The Direct PLUS Loan for Graduate Students are only available for students working toward their Master's or other Professional Degree and you will be required to pass a credit check or secure an endorser (cosigner) for your loan.

You may contact our office at if you need further details or if you are interested in these loans and they are not part of your financial aid award package.

To apply:

  •  Select the option "Apply for a Grad PLUS Loan” under the tab “APPLY FOR AID”. A credit decision is provided immediately upon submission of the application.
  • If your credit check expires before the loan is processed by the Financial Aid office, then a new credit check will be performed by the U.S. Department of Education. This may occur if the decision is based on a prior credit check; credit checks are valid for 180 days.
  • Complete the Master Promissory Note for the Graduate/Professional Students on the same website, if this is your first time borrowing a PLUS Loan and your loan is approved. Select the “COMPLETE AID PROCESS” tab and then select “Complete Master Promissory Note.” Finally, make sure to select the “PLUS MPN for Graduate/Professional Students”, which is the second option in the list of MPN choices.
  • The loan application, credit decision, and Master Promissory Note are sent to SUNY Potsdam electronically.

If your credit decision is denied, you have several options:

  • Request an "appeal." If there are errors in your credit report, or extenuating circumstances exist relating to your adverse credit history, the parent borrower may choose to appeal. When you select "appeal decision", it will start the appeal process.
  • Provide an endorser: The endorser must pass a credit check and sign a promissory note. An email with the Loan Reference ID will be emailed to the borrower. The endorser will need the Loan Reference ID to complete the Endorser Addendum online. The endorser must create a Federal PIN to sign in and go to "Endorse a PLUS Loan” under the “APPLY FOR AID” tab, or
  • Not pursue the PLUS Loan: If you are not interested in the first two options, you can select the option not to pursue the Graduate PLUS Loan

What is the interest rate and what fees are charged for this loan?
Interest rates for all federal loans are set by Congress.

When do I begin repaying the loan?
Repayment begins 60 days after the loan is fully disbursed or you (the student) are no longer enrolled on at least a half-time basis (6 or more credit hours). For Fall/Spring loans, repayment would begin in mid-March.

Funds are normally disbursed in two equal installments and are credited directly to the student's account.