Federal Direct and PLUS Loans 

Federal Direct Loans and PLUS Loans are federally funded loans offered by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Students who complete the FAFSA are generally offered federal student loans for the maximum amount they are eligible for after their grants, scholarships, Federal Work Study Program (FWSP) awards and other aid is considered. To receive federal loan funds, Rutgers students must complete a required loan acceptance process each academic year by the deadlines posted below:

2023-2024 Academic Year Deadlines to Accept Federal Loans
Fall 2023 OnlyFall 2023 and Spring 2024Spring 2024 Only
August 26, 2023April 28, 2024April 28, 2024

Any first-time borrower will also need to complete entrance counseling and a master promissory note (MPN) when choosing to accept a federal loan.

Please browse the sections below to learn more important information about federal student loans.

Determining Eligibility for Federal Direct Loans
Direct Stafford Loans: There are two types of Direct Stafford Loans: subsidized and unsubsidized. The subsidized loan is need-based, which is determined by the difference between the cost of attendance and your expected family contribution. Students borrowing the subsidized loan do not pay interest on the loan while they are enrolled at least half-time. The U.S. Department of Education pays interest while the borrower is in school and during grace and deferment periods.

Unsubsidized loans are non-need-based, and students are not required to demonstrate financial need to borrow an unsubsidized loan. If you choose not to pay the interest while you are in school and during grace periods and deferment or forbearance periods, your interest will accrue and be capitalized (your interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan).

Federal Direct PLUS Loans: Parents of dependent students are eligible for PLUS loans, and are subject to a credit check. The maximum amount that may be borrowed is calculated by subtracting other aid from the cost of attendance.

Federal Direct Grad PLUS Loans: Graduate and professional degree students are eligible for low-interest Grad PLUS Loans. A credit check will be performed. Should you choose to complete your application more than 180 days prior to the start of your semester, you may be required to undergo a second credit check. To borrow a Direct PLUS Loan you must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, must not be in a default on any federal education loans or owe an overpayment on a federal education grant, and must meet other general eligibility requirements for the federal student aid programs.

How to Apply for a Federal Direct Loan

When you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you are applying for all of the aid programs for which you may be eligible, including direct loans.

If a Federal Direct Stafford Loan (subsidized or unsubsidized) has been offered to you as part of your aid package, it will appear as an award in the Financial Aid Student Portal. You can accept or decline these loans just as you would any other aid program assistance offered to you.

To apply for a Federal Direct PLUS Loan (either Parent or Grad PLUS), you must submit an additional application at studentaid.gov/plus-app.

Next Steps to Receive Federal Direct Loan Funds

Once you are awarded a Federal Direct Loan, you must fulfill certain conditions before loan funds can be credited to your account. These include, but may not be limited to:

Complete Entrance Counseling

Entrance counseling is a session designed to help you better understand your obligation as a borrower, and provides other useful information on the loan process, and is required for some first time borrowers.

Sign the Master Promissory Note

Direct Stafford Loan borrowers who want these funds to credit to their term bill must complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN). The same FSA ID used to complete your online FAFSA is used to sign your MPN.

Follow the directions carefully to complete the four step process for the Federal Direct Loan MPN. In “Step 4, Submit Master Promissory Note – Review and Sign,” review and confirm your information. When done, sign and submit the page to complete your MPN process. At the end of Step 4, make sure to save or print the PDF version of your completed MPN for your records.

Accept, Adjust, or Decline Federal Loans

At such a time that you are eligible to complete the loan acceptance process, you will receive an email notification that includes instructions for accepting, declining or adjusting your federal loans. If you have already received that email, please follow the instructions to complete the loan acceptance process. Please do not attempt to complete the process until you receive the email notification. In addition, your loans must be in an awarded status to complete the acceptance process. Please note: the loan acceptance process is replacing the Data Change Form (DCF) used to reduce or decline loans in previous years.

Federal Direct Loan Interest Rates & Origination Fees

Interest Rates for Federal Direct Loans

Loans disbursed under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program have either a fixed or a variable interest rate, depending on when the loan was first disbursed.

All Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized, and Direct PLUS loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2006 have a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan.


Loan TypeBorrower TypeLoans first disbursed on or after 7/1/23 and before 7/1/24
Direct Subsidized LoansUndergraduate5.498%
Direct Unsubsidized LoansUndergraduate5.498%
Direct Unsubsidized LoansGraduate or Professional7.048%
Direct PLUS LoansUndergraduate or Graduate8.048%
Loan TypeBorrower TypeLoans first disbursed on or after 7/1/22 and before 7/1/23
Direct Subsidized LoansUndergraduate4.993%
Direct Unsubsidized LoansUndergraduate4.993%
Direct Unsubsidized LoansGraduate or Professional6.543%
Direct PLUS LoansUndergraduate or Graduate7.543%

Origination Fees for Federal Direct Loans

Loan TypeFirst Disbursement DateLoan Fee
Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized LoansOn or after 10/1/19 and before 10/1/201.059%
Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized LoansOn or after 10/1/20 and before 10/1/231.057%
Direct PLUS LoansOn or after 10/1/19 and before 10/1/204.236%
Direct PLUS LoansOn or after 10/1/20 and before 10/1/234.228%
Federal Direct Loan Limits
Undergraduate Dependent Students (whose parents were not denied a PLUS Loan)
Combined Base Limits for Subsidized & Unsubsidized LoansAdditional Limit for Unsubsidized LoansHEAL LimitsTotal Limit for Unsubsidized Loans (minus subsidized amounts)
First-Year Undergraduate$3,500$2,000N/A$5,500
Second-Year Undergraduate$4,500$2,000N/A$6,500
Third-Year & Beyond Undergraduate$5,500$2,000N/A$7,500
Preparatory Coursework (for enrollment in an undergraduate program)$2,625$0N/A$2,625
Preparatory Coursework (for enrollment in a graduate/professional program)$5,500$0N/A$5,500
Teacher Certification Coursework$5,500$0N/A$5,500
Undergraduate Independent Students (and dependent students whose parents were denied a PLUS Loan)
Combined Base Limits for Subsidized & Unsubsidized LoansAdditional Limit for Unsubsidized LoansHEAL LimitsTotal Limit for Unsubsidized Loans (minus subsidized amounts)
First-Year Undergraduate$3,500$6,000N/A$9,500
Second-Year Undergraduate$4,500$6,000N/A$10,500
Third-Year & Beyond Undergraduate$5,500$7,000N/A$12,500
Preparatory Coursework (for enrollment in an undergraduate program)$2,625$6,000N/A$8,625
Preparatory Coursework (for enrollment in a graduate/professional program)$5,500$7,000N/A$12,500
Teacher Certification Coursework$5,500$7,000N/A$12,500
Aggregate Loan Limits For Undergraduate Students
Limits for Subsidized LoansAdditional Limit for Unsubsidized LoansTotal
Dependent Undergraduate Students (whose parents were not denied a PLUS loan)$23,000$8,000$31,000
Independent Undergraduate Students (and dependent students whose parents were denied a PLUS loan)$23,000$34,500$57,500
Graduate & Professional Students
Graduates in Public HealthMedical/Dental Students
9 months10 months11 months12 months9 months10 months11 months12 months
Limit for Unsubsidized Loans$20,500$20,500$20,500$20,500$20,500$20,500$20,500$20,500
HEAL Limits$12,000$13,889$15,278$16,677$20,000$22,222$24,444$26,667
Aggregate Loan Limits For Medical, Graduate Professional Students
Total Limits for Unsubsidized Loans
Graduate Professional Students$138,500
Medical School Students$224,000
Contact Your Loan Servicer

For a full list of federal loan servicers, visit the Federal Student Aid website.

Repayment Options
Students who borrow a Federal Direct Student Loan and have borrowed a Federal Stafford Loan in the past can have their loans consolidated so that they will be making only one payment. Loan consolidation will be made at the request of the student when entering repayment. The university will provide more information to you regarding this option as you approach graduation.

Loan repayment begins six months after you leave school or cease to be enrolled an at least a half-time basis. These six months are referred to as a grace period.

While you are enrolled in school, no payments are due on the subsidized Federal Direct Student Loan, and no interest accrues (unless you are repaying a previous loan and are enrolled less than half time). The federal government pays the interest for you during this time.

The grace period for the unsubsidized Federal Direct Student Loan is the same as the subsidized, but you are responsible for the interest on the loan while in the grace period. Repayment on the Federal Direct PLUS Loan begins shortly after the loan is fully disbursed.

Learn more about available options for repaying your student loans.