Graduate Federal Direct Loans

You must compete a FAFSA to be eligible to borrow a Federal Direct Loan.

If you wish to borrow a Federal Direct Loan that is not already part of your current award package, please contact your aid counselor to determine your eligibility. Loan details provided by the government can be found on their website. The Federal Student Loan Support phone line is 800-557-7394.

If you wish to decline a Direct Loan awarded from Tufts, simply send your request in an email to

To see how much you have already borrowed in federal loans,  please log into your Federal Student Aid account dashboard.

Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan

This federal loan is available to graduate students who are U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens enrolled at least half-time in a degree-seeking or certificate program. Unsubsidized means that all interest charges for this loan are your responsibility. The interest rate for the 2021-22 year is 5.28%. Loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 2020 and before October 1, 2022 will have a 1.057% loan fee. Loan limits are shown below.  You can choose to make interest payments by checking off the appropriate box on the Master Promissory Note. You may choose to capitalize the interest (add interest charges to the amount owed) but this will significantly increase the total amount of your debt burden at repayment.  Read more about Federal Unsubsidized Direct Stafford Loans.

Federal Direct Loan Limits

The Department of Education sets annual and aggregate (lifetime) limits on the amount of debt you can obtain from the federal government. The chart below summarizes the current limits for the Federal Direct Stafford Loan.

Grade Level
Annual Amount
Lifetime Limit
Graduate Student $20,500. No more than $8,500 of this amount may be in the form of a subsidized loan. *As of July 1, 2012, Subsidized Direct Loans were eliminated for graduate students. $138,500. No more than $65,500 of this amount may be in the form of a subsidized loan.
Federal Direct Loan Application Process

If you are a first time Direct Stafford Loan borrower, you must complete the following two-step electronic process. Your loan will not be disbursed until you have completed both steps.

Please note that if you do not complete both steps your loan will be cancelled. 

1. Submit a Master Promissory Note

You need to complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) only once while at Tufts. It will take approximately 30 minutes.

To complete the MPN, you will need a valid e-mail address, and your FSA ID from when you completed your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you forget your FSA ID,  there will be a prompt at login to help you retrieve it.

You should also have the names, addresses and phone numbers of two people (friends or family) that will be required as references.

Entrance Loan Counseling

First-time loan borrowers must complete the government required loan counseling. Graduate students who borrow both Direct Stafford and PLUS loans will click on the “Combination” link.  If you complete the Stafford counseling only, and then choose to borrow PLUS, you must return again to complete the Combination counseling.  For this reason, we encourage you to complete the Combination counseling initially to save time and simplify the process.