Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans

The Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loan (Graduate PLUS) can be used to meet costs of education less any other aid. Students usually use this loan to cover the difference between the combination of GW aid, external benefits,  and the Federal Direct Stafford Loan and the Cost of Attendance.

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans Terms at a Glance

  • Fixed interest rate of 7.21%
  • Same payment deferment and forbearance options as the Federal Direct Stafford Loan (e.g. hardship, unemployment, and in-school)
  • A loan-origination fee of 4.288% is charged on this loan (after October 1, 2014 the fee will be 4.292%) 
  • May be consolidated with other federal loans.
  • Loan eligibility is based on the federal standard for credit.

Credit history is a summary of your financial strength, including your history of paying bills and your ability to repay future loans. To qualify for a PLUS loan, you cannot have an adverse credit history. Your credit history may be considered adverse if you are experiencing any of the following credit conditions:

  • Bankruptcy discharge within the past five years.
  • Voluntary surrender of personal property to avoid repossession within the last five years.
  • Repossession of collateral within the last five years.
  • Foreclosure proceedings started.
  • Foreclosure within the last five years.
  • Conveying your real property that is subject to a mortgage (by deed) to your lender to avoid foreclosure (deed in lieu of foreclosure).
  • Accounts currently 90 days or more delinquent.
  • Unpaid collection accounts.
  • Charge-offs/write-offs of federal student loans.
  • Wage garnishment within the last five years.
  • Defaulting on a loan, even if the claim has been paid.
  • Lease or contract terminated by default.
  • County/state/federal tax lien within the past five years.


In order to receive a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, you must be:

  • A citizen or permanent resident of the United States
  • Enrolled at least half-time (6 credits per semester for J.D., 5 credits per semester for LL.M. students) in a degree program for each semester for which loans are received
  • Not delinquent or in default on any educational loans borrowed prior to attendance at the Law School
  • Students must be making satisfactory academic progress (SAP) toward their law degree in order to receive federal and institutional aid. Please see the GW Law Financial Aid Office SAP Policy for more information.

If you are in default or in a late payment status on any of your student loans, aid for attendance at GW Law will be jeopardized. If you have defaulted on student loans, contact your lender/guarantee agency immediately to inquire about their policy for reinstatement of Title IV federal loan eligibility.

Need Analysis Required for the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan

You will undergo a government-designed need analysis to determine your expected family contribution (EFC). Since you will be a graduate student, no parental data is used, only your data and your spouse’s (if you are married).

Note: Although you do not actually have to borrow a Federal Direct Stafford Loan in order to borrow the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, you must have your need determined for a Federal Direct Stafford Loan to receive Federal Direct Graduate PLUS. Since the Federal Direct Stafford Loan has a lower interest rate, you will want to borrow it first and then Federal Direct Graduate PLUS.  If you choose to borrow a Graduate PLUS Loan instead of Stafford Loan funds you will need to provide written reason for your decision.  If you have borrowed your aggregate limit on Federal Direct Stafford Loans ($138,500), then the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS would be the next likely loan for you to borrow, unless a private loan is preferred. 

Applying for Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans

1. File a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) using GW Law’s code: E00196. This form may be filed after January 1. Only you and your spouse, if you are married, need file this form (unless you are also applying for GW Law need-based grants, in which case parental data is required if you were born on/after January 1, 1985).

2. The FAFSA processor will send you a SAR (Student Aid Report). Check the instructions upon receipt and promptly resolve any problems noted on the form. The SAR will let you know if your file was selected for verification. If you are selected, you may need to submit additional documentation to Law Financial Aid.

3. Complete the GW Law Financial Aid Request Form

4. All Federal Direct Graduate PLUS borrowers new to GWU must complete federal loan entrance counseling. Once you graduate, withdraw, or drop to less than half-time enrollment, federal loan exit counseling is required.

5. Sign a Graduate PLUS Master Promissory Note (MPN) if you have not already signed one with Direct Loans.

6. Complete the PLUS Request Process at www.studentloans.gov. This where you will give the Department of Education permission to run your credit check. Credit checks result in a hard hit to your credit score and credit decisions are valid for 90 days. You will receive notification from the Department of Education should your request be denied.  If this happens you will have the opportunity to appeal the decision or to obtain a qualified, credit-worthy endorser to obtain the loan.

You may review whether or not you have already complete the required counseling and MPNs on the Student Loans website under the headings "My Loan Documents" and "View Previously Completed Counseling."

When to Apply for Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans

Newly admitted Juris Doctor and LL.M. students

Apply for Federal Direct (and other) loans after you have paid at least your first tuition deposit and have made your decision to attend GW Law School. 

Continuing Juris Doctor and LL.M. students

You may request loans through the last week of classes of the academic year for which loans are desired, but if you wish the funds to arrive in time for the start of the fall semester, you should apply as early as possible.

No application will be processed unless all required forms have been received by the Law School Financial Aid Office. We usually begin originating loans for continuing students starting in June. You can check your file completion by viewing "My Loan Eligibility Requirements" on GWeb. Please contact GW Law Financial Aid if you have questions.

When and How do Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Funds Arrive?

In most cases, Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans are issued in two equal disbursements, divided between the fall and spring semesters of the academic year, and arriving at the beginning of each semester. Students applying for the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loan for one semester only (e.g., graduating at the end of fall semester) may receive their funds in one disbursement at the beginning of the semester.

Electronic Funds

Loan funds are deposited directly into your GW Student Account from COD, the Common Origination and Disbursement system. Federal regulations mandate that electronically transmitted loan funds not used within three days of disbursement be returned by the school to the lender. If you are not registered, or are registered, but not for the appropriate number of credits, or are missing any document required for admission or certification, your loan may be delayed in paying into your GW Student Account.


You will be notified by e-mail of the arrival of loan funds each semester. If you do not receive notification when you expect it, you may check your student account on GWeb, or contact your Law Financial Aid counselor to check your status.

Student Account e-Refund of Excess Funds

Financial aid award funds are disbursed to your GW Law student account at the beginning of each semester. If the awards you have accepted exceed the amount owed on the GW Student Account e-Bill system per semester, you will receive a refund to assist with your external educational expenses, such as books, housing, meals, etc. To set up your direct deposit e-refund, please register online through Student Account eBill.

No loan funds are available prior to the first day of classes in any semester.

Return and Refund Policies of Title IV Funds and Institutional Aid
Including Merit Scholarships and GW Law Need-based Grants

The Law School Financial Aid Office is required by regulation to calculate a Refund of Fees and a Return of Title IV Funds amount for all financial aid recipients who withdraw, are dismissed, or who take a Leave of Absence during a semester. The policy applies to financial aid recipients who discontinue enrollment in all classes, on or after the first day of the first day of the semester. The Return of Title IV Funds is the amount of unearned aid you received at the beginning of the semester that must be returned to the federal aid programs. Any aid received in excess of the earned amount is considered unearned. The earned portion is calculated on a daily basis using calendar days from the first day of instruction. The Law Financial Aid office will also pro-rate or revoke institutional aid depending on the timing of a change in your enrollment status. Contact your financial aid counselor for more details.

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