Graduate students typically pay for their education through a combination of loans, scholarships, grants, fellowships and employment through their institution.

There are some departments who are able to fund students through various grants and fellowships as well as teaching assistantships and research assistantships. You can learn more by visiting your academic department’s website. 

Please refer to the Graduate Schools Financing Your Education webpage for more information about these funding opportunities. 

Federal Financial Aid

Degree seeking graduate students may apply for federal student aid by completing the FAFSA application at each year. If the student is eligible, the FAFSA will result in an offer for a unsubsidized Ford Direct loan. The FAFSA application will also allow the student to apply for the Graduate PLUS loan online if they need additional aid. Both of these federal loans require the student to be enrolled at least halftime in a degree-seeking program. Graduate students are not eligible for federal Pell grants or federal subsidized Ford Direct loans.

Ford Direct Unsubsidized Loan

  • A graduate (non-professional) student may receive up to $20,500 per year in ford direct loans.
  • The aggregate maximum for a graduate (non-professional) student is $138,500.
  • The interest rate and origination fee for the Federal Direct unsubsidized loan can be found on the FSA website.  
  • You must complete the Entrance Counseling and Ford Direct Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN) online at

Graduate PLUS Loan

  • The Federal Direct Grad PLUS Loan is a credit based loan borrowed by graduate students to assist with educational expenses.
  • You may to borrow up to your remaining cost of attendance after all other aid.
  • The loan does not have an aggregate limit.
  • The loan is unsubsidized meaning you are responsible for paying the interest during times of deferment.
  • The interest rates and origination fees on the Federal Direct Grad PLUS Loan vary by year and can be found on the FSA website.
  • You must complete a Direct PLUS Loan Application, Entrance Counseling, and Master Promissory Note (MPN) online at
  • The credit check, run as part of the application, is only valid for 180 days. Do not complete the application before May of the year you will start attendance.
  • For applicants who have been determined to have an adverse credit history, but qualify for a Graduate PLUS loan by documenting extenuating circumstances or obtaining an endorser must complete a new Master Promissory Note and PLUS Counseling online at

Enrollment Requirement for Federal Loans

To receive federal loans, a graduate student must be enrolled at least halftime (5-8 credits each term). Aid is packaged based on the expectation of fulltime enrollment. To avoid disbursement delays, you must submit an enrollment revision form to let us know if you plan to be less than fulltime for the year. If our office has not been notified of your enrollment plans, your aid will be adjusted and disbursed after the Financial Aid Census Date for that term.

*Graduate certificate seeking students may only receive aid based on credits that are required for their certificate program.

Private Supplemental/Alternative Loans

Private/Alternative loans are loans obtained from a bank, credit union or other lending agency. For most students, federal loans are a better option and should be utilized before private loans are considered. Alternative loans require a credit check and may have a higher, variable interest rates. They also do not offer the flexible repayment, consolidation, and loan forgiveness options that you get with federal loans.

Graduate Certificate Programs

Not all graduate certificate programs are eligible for federal financial aid. Please contact the Office of Financial Aid for a list of programs that are currently aid eligible. Further information about both aid eligible and non-eligible programs may be found on our Gainful Employment page.

Students in an aid eligible graduate certificate programs may only receive federal loans based on enrollment in courses that are required for that program. Other courses may not be counted towards the minimum halftime enrollment that is needed for federal loan eligibility. For the list of required courses, please review the course catalog or contact your academic advisor.