Just about anybody who is enrolled (or plans to be enrolled) in a graduate or professional degree program can be eligible for a Graduate Plus Loan.
A Grad Plus Loan is federally funded, and designed to “fill the gaps” between a student’s other financial aid and what remains for their tuition and school-related expenses, like room and board. The amount able to be borrowed depends on what is left over after these other loan options are maximized.
Alternative to Private Loans
It's sometimes considered an alternative to private loans for several reasons:
- because it has an interest rate cap;
- because it can be combined with other federal loans if one decides later to consolidate them;
- because it has more flexible forbearance and deferment options if a student becomes unemployed or disabled;
- because the customer service for a Grad Plus is generally very good.
So who can apply for Grad Plus?
It used to be that the parents of an undergraduate student could apply and receive a Grad Plus Loan, but recent legislation has changed the eligibility for these federal monies. They are now only available to the actual student borrower, and that person must be enrolled in an accredited professional or graduate school degree program.
- A person must also be enrolled in school at least half time, which can vary from school to school.
- A credit check is required for a Grad Plus, whereas it might not be with other federal loans. The would-be borrower – in order to be eligible – must agree to a credit check by the United States Department of Education. This agreement is automatic when signing the application form. The credit check will look at things like: delinquencies of more than 90 days on other debts, whether the applicant had experienced a bankruptcy, a foreclosure, any repossession of an asset, or a tax lien. The check will also flag any wage garnishments.
- Also, an applicant for a Grad Plus must show proof of United States citizenship or national status, permanent status or eligibility as a non-citizen.
- Student borrowers must have a Social Security number (or equivalent identification as approved by loan administrators), must be able to provide his or her correct date of birth and any driver’s license information. Also, to be eligible, a loan candidate might have to provide any past or present employer’s name, address and phone number and two references.
It should be noted that a Grad Plus Loan is usually not administered unless a student has exhausted all their loan monies under the other federal loan programs, like Stafford and Perkins. As with these other federal loans, eligibility is determined by information provided when the applicant completes a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).