Graduate PLUS Loans vs. Private Student Loans

  Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan   Non-Federal Private Student Loan

How to Apply Login to www.studentloans.gov and complete:
  • a Graduate PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note.
  • a Graduate PLUS Loan Application.
    • Full details on applying for the PLUS loan can be viewed on our How to Apply webpage here.
    • A credit check is part of the PLUS Loan Application. If a student does not pass the credit check, the student can either apply for an appeal with the Department of Education or use a credit-worthy endorser.
  FASTChoiceCompare private student loans with FASTChoice. Use an internet search to search for other graduate or medical student loan options.

Private Student Loans: Questions to Ask PDFView our PDF to learn about important questions you should ask private lenders when applying for a non-federal private student loan.

Discuss the terms, conditions, and application process of the private student loan with the lender.

Eligibility FAFSA required.
Credit check required.
Must be enrolled as at least a half-time student, in good academic standing, working toward a degree or certificate.
  No FAFSA required.
Credit check required.
Must be enrolled as at least a half-time student, in good academic standing, working toward a degree or certificate.

Co-Signer No co-signer required, but a credit co-signer can be used if credit is declined.   No co-signer required, but having a co-signer can dramatically decrease your interest rate. Discuss details and conditions with lender.

Lender U.S. Federal Government, however the loan is serviced by an assigned loan servicing company (read more here).   Bank or lending institution of your choice.

Interest Rate 6.31% fixed interest rate for loans with 1st disbursement date between 7/1/2016-6/30/2017   Variable and fixed rates available. Rates vary by lender and credit worthiness. Having a good credit rating and/or using a credit‐worthy cosigner may dramatically decrease your loan interest rate. Discuss details and conditions with lender.

Interest Accrual Interest begins accruing upon first disbursement.   Interest usually begins accruing upon first disbursement.
       
Interest
Capitalization
Interest capitalizes upon repayment or at end of a deferment/grace period.   Varies by lender. Some lenders capitalize interest monthly or quarterly. Discuss details and conditions with lender.

Loan Fees 4.276% loan fee for loans with 1st disbursement date between 10/1/2016-9/30/2017   Usually none. Discuss details and conditions with lender.

Loan Limit Up to Cost of Attendance minus other financial aid (loans, scholarships, and federal work study) awarded.   Up to Cost of Attendance (loans, scholarships, and federal work study) minus other financial aid awarded.

Aggregate Lifetime
Borrowing Limit
None   Varies. Discuss details and conditions with lender.

Repayment
Grace Period
Student must request a 6-month post-enrollment deferment from lender after student ceases to be enrolled at least half-time or graduates.   Varies. Discuss details and conditions with lender.

Repayment Plans Various available including standard 10-year, extended 25-year, income-based, pay as you earn, and more.
Compare all federal student loan repayment plans here.
  Usually varies 1-25 years. Most lenders do NOT offer income-based repayment plans. Discuss details and conditions with lender.

Consolidation May consolidate with other federal student loans (such as Stafford and Perkins).   Non-federal private student loans CANNOT be consolidated with federal student loans.

Public Service Loan
Forgiveness (PSLF)
Eligible for PSLF.
Read more about PSLF here.
  Not eligible for PSLF.

Death/Disability Loans discharged upon borrower death or disability.   Private loans may have discharge for death or disability. Discuss details and conditions with lender.