The Catholic University of America participates in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Program (Direct PLUS). The Direct PLUS Loan program is a non-need-based, low-interest loan made to graduate students. The student may borrow an amount up to the cost of attendance less any financial assistance. Please note that each new loan you receive requires a separate payment each month.
- The 2023-2024 PLUS Interest Rate is fixed at 8.05% (until 6/30/2024). Interest begins to accrue at the time of disbursement.
- The PLUS Origination Fee is 4.228% (until 9/30/2024). Amount disbursed is the gross loan amount minus origination fees
Repayment information will be communicated from your loan servicer after 60 days of full disbursement. Deferred repayment begins six months after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment. Any changes to the loan must be executed by the University’s Office of Student Financial Assistance within 14 days of disbursement of the loan. Student borrowers must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents to apply for the loan.
Obtain the latest Graduate PLUS Loan application on our Forms page.
Steps to Obtain a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan at Catholic University
- Do not omit any of the steps (1-4). Your loan will not be processed unless ALL steps are completed.
- See the “Timeline for Processing of the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan” section below for details on what happens after application.
- If selected for Federal Verification, loan(s) are not processed until Verification is completed and updates are confirmed.
- Credit inquiry does expire at the credit expiration date (set by federal regulations, currently 180 days)
- Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at https://www.fafsa.gov. Both the student and the endorser (if applicable) must each have an FSA ID, which can be obtained at https://studentaid.gov/fsa-id/create-account/launch.
- The student borrower must complete the Catholic University “Federal Direct Loan Graduate PLUS Application” (found in the Direct Loan Forms section of our Financial Aid Forms page).
- The student borrower (if you are a first-time borrower of a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan at Catholic University) must complete a loan “Entrance Counseling” session at studentaid.gov. You must complete an entrance loan counseling session so that you are aware of your rights and responsibilities as a borrower. The online session will take you about twenty minutes to complete.
- The student borrower must complete the “PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note” (MPN) at studentaid.gov. You will only be required to complete another promissory note for a subsequent application if you applied previously with an endorser.
Options if your Application is denied by the Department of Education
Federal regulations require credit checks for graduate student applicants. Students with adverse credit history, those who have accounts more than ninety days delinquent, or have filed for bankruptcy in the past may be denied the Direct Graduate PLUS loan. Student borrowers will be notified (by Direct Loans) if the application is denied, the reason for the denial, and the name of the credit bureau from which the denial was obtained.
Students can call Direct Loans to appeal the decision. (800) 557-7394
Students can add an Endorser (commonly called a co-signer) to the loan application. Call the Office of Student Financial Assistance and we will help you with this process. (202) 319-5307
Important Notes: * If you are approved through either an appeal decision or by adding an Endorser then the borrower will be required to complete Credit Counseling at studentaid.gov.
Disbursement of Funds
After loan approval, the Direct PLUS funds will be available for disbursement no earlier than 10 days before the start of the term.
Once the funds are disbursed to the student account, the Office of Enrollment Services will refund any excess funds to the student. Phone (202) 319-5300
Funds are normally payable in two disbursements, one-half of the total loan amount for each semester (Fall / Spring).
Other Important Notes:
A financial aid offer letter will be mailed and in Cardinal Station indicating the total loan amount of the Direct Graduate PLUS loan awarded. The loan will not appear on the student's bill until all requirements have been met.
If additional financial assistance or other educational resources are received by the student after the Direct Graduate PLUS application is certified, one or both of the loan disbursements may be reduced or canceled to prevent over-awards.
You can enroll in direct deposit for refunds using the "Cardinal Pay" tab in the student portal or by contacting the Enrollment Services office (202) 319-5300.
If you receive any additional resources, or if your enrollment or academic standing changes at any time during the year, the PLUS loan may be reduced or canceled.
Timeline for Processing the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan
- Once the university receives the FAFSA, we will determine if the student is eligible for federal, state, and or institutional aid. The university may request additional documentation of the family’s financial situation. This will be communicated through the student’s "To-Do List" in Cardinal Station.
- Once the PLUS loan is awarded then CUA will initiate a credit check that Federal Direct Loans will conduct. The entire process typically takes 7-10 business days from the date we receive the CUA application.
- The PLUS loan will appear as "anticipated" aid on the student's bill once the following conditions are met:
- The credit approval and a valid MPN must be completed.
- The student must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree-seeking program
Important: We encourage students considering the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan to complete the entire application process well in advance of the start of the academic year. Late applications are unlikely to be completed before the fall term due date. Students who find themselves applying late should plan to use other means to cover the cost of attendance while their Direct Graduate PLUS Loan application is pending.
Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Limits
A student does not have to show the need to borrow a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loan. When indicating the amount of loan money you are requesting, please consider what you will need for the entire academic year. Please note: Students planning to apply for a PLUS loan for the summer must complete an additional institutional application at the beginning of the summer term. A student may apply for a loan up to the Cost of Attendance (COA), minus all other aid the student is receiving from all sources. The COA and the student’s total amount of financial aid can be found on the student’s financial aid offer letter under projected expenses.
Currently, there is no aggregate limit on the amount that a student may borrow from the Federal Direct PLUS Loan program.
Federal Loan FAFSA Processing Deadline
In order for the Office of Financial Aid to process you for your federal loan eligibility for the fall term, we must receive your completed, valid FAFSA results from the U.S. Department of Education by November 10 of that term. If you are applying for federal loans for the full academic year (fall and spring) or for the spring term only, we must receive your completed valid FAFSA results from the U.S. Department of Education by April 10 of the spring term.
Summer Loans: In order for the Office of Financial Aid to process you for your federal loan eligibility for the summer term, we must receive your completed valid FAFSA results from the U.S. Department of Education and you must complete an institutional summer financial aid application three weeks before the end of the last summer session for which you are registered.
Requesting a Change to your Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan
To request a reduction or to cancel, please complete a Federal Direct Loan Reduction Request available on the Forms page.
To request an increase, please complete a Federal Direct Loan Graduate PLUS Application available on the Forms page.
Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Disbursement
If you apply for a Graduate PLUS Loan for the academic year, the loan will be disbursed to Catholic University in two equal installments - one each at the beginning of fall and spring semesters - and will be applied toward payment of tuition and fees, room and board, and other university charges on your student billing statement.
Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Refunds
The loan proceeds will be disbursed and applied to your student’s account at Catholic University. Any excess funds on the student's account will be refunded by paper check or direct deposit (if requested). The University Refund Processing Schedule and individual contact information is available from the Office of Enrollment Services - Student Financial Services.
Direct Loan Exit Counseling
The federal government requires that students participate in Loan Exit Counseling prior to leaving or graduating from college so that they will know their rights and responsibilities. During Exit Counseling, you will also be given information about deferment and forbearance options and how to get the necessary forms. Even though you have a six-month grace period, the Exit Counseling process will help you set up a repayment plan, a direct withdrawal, and a payment date. The Department of Education hosts Direct Loan Exit Counseling at studentaid.gov. The online session should take about 20 minutes to complete.
Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Repayment
Repayment of the Federal Direct Loan begins six months after the student graduates or ceases to be enrolled at least half-time. Generally, you'll have from 10 to 25 years to repay your loan, depending on which repayment plan (there are several) you choose. The Direct Loan Servicing Center will notify you when your first payment is due. If you do not choose a repayment plan, the U.S. Department of Education will place you on the Standard Repayment Plan, with fixed monthly payments for up to 10 years. Most Direct Loan borrowers choose to stay with the Standard Repayment Plan, but there are other options for borrowers who may need more time to repay or who need to make lower payments at the beginning of the repayment period. For additional information about the repayment plans as well as a repayment plan calculator, visit StudentLoan.gov.
You can change repayment plans at any time by going to studentaid.gov and logging in to your account.
Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Deferment and Forbearance
A deferment is a postponement of payment on a loan. If you can't make your scheduled loan payments but don't qualify for a deferment, you may be able to receive a forbearance. A forbearance allows you to temporarily stop making payments on your loan, temporarily make smaller payments, or extend the time for making payments. For additional information, visit StudentLoan.gov
Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Consolidation
There may be advantages to consolidating (combining) your federal loans into one loan, starting with the convenience of making a single monthly payment. Consolidation generally extends the repayment period, resulting in a lower monthly payment. This may make it easier for you to repay your loans. However, you will pay more interest if you extend your repayment period through consolidation since you will be making payments for a longer period of time. Direct Loans provides an online consolidation calculator that you can use to find out how much you'll pay each month if you consolidate. Contact the Direct Loan Consolidation Center for more information at 1-800-557-7392. You can apply for a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan at studentaid.gov.
The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) offers several loan forgiveness programs for Teachers and Public Service. For information go to studentaid.gov.
Additional Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Information
Contact the Federal Direct Loan Servicing Center at StudentLoan.gov or toll-free at (800) 848-0979.