Graduate Student Loans and Financial Aid

Federal and private financial aid helps finance education for many graduate students. If you’re looking for graduate student loans and information, there are plenty of helpful resources here to get you going.

Federal Student Loans for Graduate Students

The following is a brief overview of the federal loan options that are available to graduate students.

Stafford Loans - Direct Stafford Loans are offered by the U.S. Department of Education to students for education expenses. Graduate and professional students can borrow up to $20,500 every year, with a maximum of $8,500 coming from subsidized loans. Over the course of three years and beyond, a graduate student can borrow a maximum of $138,500 – with a limit of $65,000 in subsidized loans (Note, these totals include any funds that were borrowed during undergraduate studies).

Direct Plus Loans for Graduate and Professional Students - Students with good credit history can apply for Direct PLUS Loans to cover the cost of attendance. The borrowing limit for PLUS loans is calculated by the school’s total cost of attendance subtracted by any other financial aid the student receives, such as scholarships or expected family contribution.

Students with adverse (unfavorable) credit can apply for a loan with a Cosigner to increase the likelihood of approval.

Financial Aid Status

For federal aid applications, graduate students are automatically considered "independent students"; however some institutions may still require parental information in determining eligibility for non-federal sources or programs.

Private Student Loans for Graduate and Professional Students

If a student receives a federal financial aid package and it doesn’t cover the entire cost of education, private student loans can provide additional funding at competitive rates. Our portfolio of grad loan resources can help you navigate through numerous alternative financial aid opportunities.

Some of the most popular graduate and professional private student loan programs include:

General Advice:

  • Reduce debt as much as possible. Unless you have assistance from your employer or resources to meet costs, you're likely to borrow for your graduate education. Before beginning, consider paying off as much debt as possible, especially high interest credit card debts.
  • Reduce expenses to live within your means of your expected in-school salary. For some, returning to school also means reducing hours at work and take-home pay. Closely review your expenses and adjust your lifestyle to your in-school income.
  • Make realistic decisions about work and school. The return to school can be a major change. Carefully consider your course work and time requirements for school, your family and work circumstances.
  • Through loan consolidation, students can lower monthly payments on federal and alternative loans to create some financial leeway while repaying. See Graduate Student Loan Consolidation for more information.