Here you will find information about various federal student loans as well as federal parent and private loan options for undergraduate students. Federal loans (Direct and Parent PLUS) require the completion of a FAFSA in order to determine eligibility. For information about deferments (and links to deferment forms), please log into your Federal Student Aid account dashboard, and view loan calculators in our Student Loan Repayment section.

If you received a loan as part of your financial aid award 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 in early July when the Fall eBill is released. This will ensure that your loan can be processed in time to meet the early August eBill due date.

Undergraduate Federal Direct Loans


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. You can learn more about loans provided by the government on their website. The Federal Student Loan Support phone line is 800-557-7394.

If you wish to decline a Direct Loan you were awarded at Tufts, email your request to: To see how much you have already borrowed in federal loans,  please log into your Federal Student Aid account dashboard.

Direct Subsidized Loans

Depending on your eligibility, you may borrow a Federal Direct Subsidized Loan in amounts up to $3,500 in the first year, $4,500 in the second year, and $5,500 in each of the third and fourth years. Loan amounts are divided in half and disbursed per semester. The interest rate for the 2023-2024 year is 5.50%. Loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 2020, and before October 1, 2024, will have a 1.057% loan fee. Interest does not accrue while a student is enrolled at least half-time. 

There is a maximum time limit on how long you can receive Direct Subsidized Loans. Direct Subsidized Loans will only be available for up to 150% of the published length of your program. You can find more detailed information on the federal government's website.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Any student ineligible for a  Direct Subsidized Loan may borrow a Direct Unsubsidized Loan. Unsubsidized means that all interest charges for this loan are the responsibility of the borrower. The interest rate for the 2023-2024 year is 5.50%. Loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 2020, and before October 1, 2024, 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. See loan limits below.  

Undergraduate students who borrow their maximum grade level Direct Subsidized Loan can also borrow an additional $2,000 in a Direct Unsubsidized Loan. Also, if your parent is denied a federal Parent PLUS Loan, you may borrow additional amounts (see below for limits) in Direct Unsubsidized Loans.  

We are concerned about loan indebtedness, and the impact of loan repayment on future quality of life, and encourage students not to borrow unless absolutely necessary.

Federal Direct Loan Limits

The Department of Education sets annual and aggregate (lifetime) limits on the amount of debt a student can obtain from the federal government. The chart below summarizes the current limits for the Federal Direct Loan. As of July 1st, 2013,  first-time Direct Subsidized Loan borrowers may not receive Direct Subsidized Loans for more than 150 percent of the published length of your program. You can find more information on the Federal Student Aid website.

Grade LevelDependent Undergraduate StudentIndependent Undergraduate Student*Graduate Student
1st Year/Freshman$5,500 - No more than $3,500 of this amount may be in Subsidized loan.$9,500 - No more than $3,500 of this amount may be in Subsidized loan.$20,500 - No more than $8,500 of this amount may be used in Subsidized loan. *As of July 1, 2012, Subsidized Direct Loans will be eliminated for graduate students.
2nd Year/Sophomore$6,500 - No more than $4,500 of this amount may be in Subsidized loan.$10,500 - No more than $4,500 of this amount may be in Subsidized loan.$20,500 - No more than $8,500 of this amount may be used in Subsidized loan. *As of July 1, 2012, Subsidized Direct Loans will be eliminated for graduate students.
3rd Year/Junior
4th Year/Senior
$7,500 - No more than $5,500 of this amount may be used in Subsidized loan.$12,500 - No more than $5,500 of this amount may be in Subsidized loan.$20,500 - No more than $8,500 of this amount may be used in Subsidized loan. *As of July 1, 2012, Subsidized Direct Loans will be eliminated for graduate students.
Maximum lifetime borrowing$31,000 - No more than $23,000 of this amount may be used in Subsidized loan.$57,500 - No more than $23,000 of this amount may be in Subsidized loan.$138,500 - No more than $65,500 of this amount may be in Subsidized loan.

*Also applies to dependent undergraduate students whose parent was denied a PLUS loan

Direct Loan Application Process

1. Complete a Direct Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN).

  • You will need a valid email address, and must have the FSA ID from when you completed your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Forgot your FSA ID? There will be a prompt when you log in to help you retrieve it.
  •  Have on hand the names, addresses and phone numbers of two references (friends or family).

2. Complete Entrance Counseling

The counseling explains your rights and responsibilities as a loan borrower. You must complete entrance counseling before loan funds can be disbursed.

If you have any problems completing the Master Promissory Note, you may call the Applicant Information Center at 800-557-7394.

Federal Perkins Loans: Undergraduate Students

Perkins Loans are federally subsidized loans, awarded by Tufts University to undergraduates with exceptional need. 

Under federal law, the authority for schools to make new Perkins Loans ended on 9/30/17, and final disbursements were permitted through 6/30/18. As a result, students can no longer receive Perkins Loans.

Borrowers who received a Perkins Loan can contact University Accounting Service at 844-870-8701 for repayment or deferment information. 

Tufts Loans: Undergraduate Students

Tufts Loans are need-based, institutional undergraduate loans which typically range from $500 to $2,500. Tufts Loans may be from the Farwell Fund, the National Distillers Fund, or the Warren Fund. The terms and conditions are the same. No fee or interest is charged, and no payments are due until 6 months after you graduate, withdraw from Tufts, or drop below half time status.

For loans disbursed before July 1, 2017, the interest rate is 7% with a 5 year repayment plan. For loan disbursed after July 1, 2017, the interest rate is 5% with a 5 year repayment plan.

Full details can be found in the Tufts Loan Disclosure. If you have questions about Tufts Loans, please contact us.

Learn more about deferment for Tufts Loans

You must take the following steps before your Tufts Loans can be disbursed:

You will receive an email from University Accounting Services asking you to login and sign your Tufts Loan Promissory Note and complete the Self Certification Form. This email is from University Accounting Service (UAS), Tufts’ loan billing servicer. Follow the instructions in the email to obtain your PIN. If you have any difficulties please contact UAS at 844-870-8701.

Upon leaving the university, you must complete a Loan Exit Counseling session online.

Federal Parent PLUS Loans


Under this federally guaranteed loan program, parents may borrow up to the total amount of education costs less any financial aid.

PLUS Loan applications are completed online through Parent borrowers may begin applying for a PLUS Loan for the 2023-2024 academic year on May 1, 2023. Fall student account balances will be available through eBill and SIS the first week of July.

You should apply for a PLUS Loan no later than three weeks before your student's billing due date. The federal government will email your credit decision. Once the application process is complete and the loan is approved, the funds will be credited (minus fees) to your student’s account.

PLUS Loan Program Information

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

  • Your student must file a FAFSA.
  • The interest rate for the 2023-2024 year is fixed at 8.05%.
  • Origination/Guarantee fee is 4.228% for loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 2020, and before October 1, 2024.
  • 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 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 PLUS Loan and are subsequently totally, permanently disabled, or deceased, the loan is forgiven.

PLUS Loan Application Process

  • Your student must complete a 2023-2024 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 parent borrowers must also complete the Master Promissory Note (MPN). You will need your FSA ID to complete the MPN.
  • You can request to defer repayment while your student is enrolled at least half-time, and also request to defer repayment for six months after they are no longer enrolled at least half-time. 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 (except when loan funds are being used to cover costs for a non-Tufts study abroad program).
  • Use the Student Account Calculator to estimate each semester balance and help you determine a loan amount. The Student Account Calculator automatically accounts for the loan fee.
  • 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.

PLUS Loan Denied Credit Decision

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

  1. Apply to borrow the loan with an endorser: An endorser is a credit-worthy cosigner who agrees to repay your Parent 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. 
  3. Choose to have your student borrow an additional Unsubsidized Direct Loan: If you select the option to not pursue a PLUS Loan at this time, your student will be eligible to borrow an additional Unsubsidized Direct Loan in their own name up to $4,000 (first years and sophomores) or $5,000 (juniors and seniors) for the academic year. Your student can email their financial aid counselor to request the loan and specify the amount they need to borrow.

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.

Undergraduate Alternative and Private Loans

Undergraduate 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 list in Elm Select, can be found below. Please note that you are under no obligation to borrow from any of the listed lenders 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 student's billing due date. Once the application process is complete and the loan is approved, funds will be automatically credited to your student’s account.

Federal Loan Eligibility

We encourage all students to apply for all federal grant and loan aid available and to use your maximum Federal Direct 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 listed in ELM Select 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 any of these lenders. If you would like to borrow from a lender who is not listed, 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. You can complete the application process directly through ELM Select.

When considering alternative loans, you should also a review the Federal Parent PLUS Loan option.

Before borrowing, view each lender's terms 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.