Here you will find information about federal student loans and private loan options for graduate students. We recommend that you begin the loan application process no later than three weeks prior to the due date listed on your eBill statement each semester.

Federal loans (Direct and GradPLUS) require the completion of a FAFSA in order to determine eligibility.

For information about deferments (and links to deferment forms), log in to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to see your federal loans, and view loan calculators in our Student Loan Repayment section. If you received a loan and wish to decline it, simply send your request in an email to

Please be sure to begin the loan application process via the links on this site. Please note that Graduate Federal Direct Loans and Federal Grad PLUS Loans have a loan fee, so the net loan amount credited to your bill will lower than the amount you borrow. More details about the amount of the loan fee can be found on the respective loan pages.

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 2022-2023 year is 6.54%. 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 LevelAnnual AmountLifetime 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.

Federal Grad PLUS Loans

As a graduate student, you may also participate in the federal Grad PLUS Loan program. You must first use your maximum Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan eligibility before using Grad PLUS (Direct Loans have more favorable benefits). Under this federally-guaranteed loan program,  you may borrow up to the total amount of education costs less any financial aid. Grad PLUS borrowers will be subject to credit approval. The Federal Student Loan Support phone line is 800-557-7394.

PLUS Loan Applications are completed online through Grad PLUS Loan borrowers may begin applying for a 2023-2024 Grad PLUS Loan on April 7, 2023. Fall student account balances will be available through eBill and SIS the first week of July.

Please note: In order to use the Grad PLUS Loan to pay your Tufts bill, the loan application should be completed via the process below at least three weeks in advance of the billing due date. The federal government will email your credit decision. Once the application process is complete and the loan approved, the funds will be credited (minus fees) to the student account.

Grad PLUS Loan Program Information

When considering a Grad PLUS loan, keep the following points in mind:

  • You must file a FAFSA.
  • The interest rate for the 2022-2023 year is fixed at 7.54%.
  • Origination/Guarantee fee is 4.228% for loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 2020, and before October 1, 2022. 
  • You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to borrow funds.
  • Your student must also be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and must be making satisfactory academic progress towards a degree.
  • You must be credit-worthy, as determined by the absence of adverse credit on credit history.
  • You may borrow up to the cost of attendance less other financial aid.
  • Most Grad PLUS loans are made to cover fall and spring semester costs. The loan funds are disbursed (minus fees) in two equal payments, 1/2 for the fall semester and 1/2 for the spring semester.
  • The maximum repayment term is 10 years.
  • Repayment begins 60 days after the loan is fully disbursed, but may be deferred while the student is enrolled at least half time.
  • If you borrow a Grad PLUS Loan and are subsequently totally, permanently disabled, or deceased, the loan is forgiven.

Grad PLUS Loan Application Process

  • You must complete a 2022-2023 FAFSA before you can apply for a PLUS Loan.
  • You will need to log in with your FSA ID in order to start the application.
  • First time borrowers must also complete the Master Promissory Note (MPN). You will need your FSA ID to complete the MPN.
  • Repayment is deferred while you are enrolled at least half-time, and for an additional six months after you drop below half-time enrollment. Interest will accrue during deferment.
  • When prompted, we recommend that you request a specific loan amount or choose “maximum amount.” Leaving the amount blank or choosing “I do not know” will delay the processing of your application.
  • Due to the 4.228% loan fee, the amount credited to the student account will be less than the amount requested. To account for the loan fee in your loan amount, divide the desired net amount by .957. For example: To net $10,000 to the bill, divide $10,000 by .957 and request $10,449 as the loan amount.
  • When prompted, we encourage you to borrow enough to cover full academic year costs (fall and spring) rather than one semester at a time.
  • You will be given a credit decision at the end of the application. If you are denied, you will be presented with the options described in the tab below.

If your PLUS Loan request is approved, a pending credit for the semester's loan will be automatically posted to your student’s account. The actual funds will disburse when classes begin.

Grad PLUS Loan Denied Credit Decision

If you are denied a Grad PLUS loan due to adverse credit, you can choose one of two options:

  1. Apply to borrow the loan with an endorser: An endorser is a credit-worthy cosigner who agrees to repay your Grad PLUS Loan if you do not repay the loan. After you designate an endorser, they must create their own FSA ID and complete an Electronic Endorser Addendum. In addition, you will be required to complete PLUS Credit Counseling once your endorser is accepted. 
  2. Appeal the credit decision: If you feel you have extenuating circumstances or the information in your credit report is incorrect, you can provide documentation to the U.S Department of Education. You must also complete PLUS Credit Counseling as part of the appeal.

The U.S. Department of Education provides  a list of conditions they consider as adverse credit history. They use this criteria to make their credit decision for Parent PLUS Loan applicants

Graduate Alternative and Private Loans

Graduate students can choose to supplement their federal loan eligibility by borrowing from a private lender. Information about maximizing federal loan eligibility, and our formal review process for choosing the private lenders who appear on our website, can be found below. Please note that you are under no obligation to borrow from any of the lenders listed here and can select any lender you prefer and apply directly with that lender. 

You should apply for a loan no later than three weeks before your billing due date. Once the application process is complete and the loan is approved, funds will be automatically credited to your account.

Federal Loan Eligibility

We encourage all students to use your maximum Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan eligibility before seeking any alternative or private loan, as there are many benefits associated with federal loan programs that are generally not available through private loans.

Private Lenders

A variety of banks and private lenders offer alternative loans for financing education costs for both graduate and undergraduate students and their families. Tufts has a formal process to review the loan offerings of most of the major lenders. Based on this review, we have chosen the lenders below for their competitive rates,  borrower benefits, and superior customer service. Be assured that Tufts receives no benefits, financial or other, from these lenders for being on our preferred lender list.

You are under no obligation to borrow from one of these lenders. If you would like to borrow from a lender who is not on this list, you can simply select the lender of your choice and apply directly with that lender. The lender will be responsible for getting your loan information to us.

You may borrow up to the cost of education minus any aid received.

Lenders offer private loan programs with different rates, fees, repayment terms, and approval requirements. We suggest that you carefully review each program to compare the terms and conditions before deciding which alternative loan may be appropriate for your needs. The lenders listed below are those most utilized at Tufts. You can complete the application process directly through the websites linked below.

When considering alternative loans, you should also a review the Federal Grad PLUS loan option.

Before borrowing, view each lender's website and review their benefits. You may compare lender interest rates, benefits, fees, and terms by visiting ELM Select. ELM Select is hosted and maintained by ELM Resources to help students and parents choose the educational lender of their choice.

Fair Lending Practices - Code of Conduct

Tufts University has always been committed to the highest standards of professional conduct and ethical behavior.  We recognize that ensuring the integrity of the student financial aid process is critical to providing fair and affordable access to higher education.  With the Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965, Congress has required that all colleges post a Code of Conduct relating to financial aid, private lending and student choice.  Accordingly, the staff in Student Financial Services herein confirms that we adhere to the following sound practices.

I.  University employees do not receive any personal benefits from Lending Institutions   
No member of the Student Financial Services staff will accept anything of more than nominal value on his or her behalf or on behalf of another person or entity from any Lending Institution.  For example, cash, stocks, gifts, entertainment, expense-paid trips, etc. will never be accepted from a Lending Institution. Likewise, an individual will never accept payment or reimbursement from a Lending Institution for lodging, meals or travel to conferences or training seminars.

II.  The University does not provide any advantage to a Lending Institution   
The staff in Student Financial Services does not accept anything of value from any Lending Institution in exchange for any advantage or consideration provided to the Lending Institution related to its student loan activities, including but not limited to revenue-sharing, printing costs or below-cost computer hardware or software.  Likewise, the University does not allow any Lending Institution to staff the Student Financial Services office or Student Services calling center at any time.

III.  The University makes appropriate use of any Preferred Lender Lists   
The selection of Lending Institutions for inclusion on the private/alternative loans Preferred Lender List is based solely on the best interests of University students and their parents without regard to the financial interests of the University. We abide by the following:

  • Students and their parents are free to select the Lending Institution of their choice for private/alternative loans and will suffer no penalty imposed by the University from using a Lending Institution that is not a “Preferred Lender.”
  • Students and their parents are not required to use any of the University private/alternative loan “Preferred Lenders” and may borrow through any lender or guarantor they choose.
  • The University does not assign a borrower’s loan to a particular lender and will certify all loans based on a borrower’s selection of a lender.

IV.  University employees do not serve on lender advisory boards for remuneration   
No officer, trustee or employee of the University who makes financial aid decisions for the University or who is employed in, supervises or otherwise has responsibility or authority over the University Student Financial Services office will receive any remuneration for serving as a member or participant on a student loan advisory board of a Lending Institution, or receive any reimbursement of expenses for such service.