Graduate Students

Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan Program

Graduate students are only eligible for Title IV Unsubsidized Federal Direct loan funds. The annual eligibility for a graduate student is based on the average cost of attendance and the actual number of enrollment periods a student plans to attend for that year. The cost of attendance is based on the average number of credits taken and number of enrollment periods. The maximum annual Federal Unsubsidized Direct loan amount available for a graduate student is $20,500. Limits may apply based on program.

Students must be degree-seeking and enrolled at least half-time (minimum of 3 credit hours per term) to access Federal loan programs. Non-degree certificate program students may access non-federal loan programs only. You will be charged interest  from the time any loans are disbursed until they are paid in full. If you allow the interest to accrue while you’re in school, or during other periods of nonpayment, it will be added to the principal amount of your loan at the time of repayment (capitalized), and future interest will be calculated on that higher amount.

Graduate programs which are eligible for financial aid

Graduate Program

Federal Aid Programs

Alternative Loan Programs

Master of Arts



Master of Arts in Teaching



Master of Business Administration



Master of Education



Master of Science



Educator Certification (without a degree)*



Specialist Certification (without a degree)*



Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS)



Doctor of Education



Non-degree certificate programs



Institutes and workshops



*Students enrolled in these programs are eligible for federal undergraduate loan limits only ($12,500 per academic year). Undergraduate aggregate loan limits also apply. When identifying loan eligibility for certification programs, all previously borrowed undergraduate loans must be counted and cannot exceed an aggregate total of $57,500 for undergraduate independent students and/or for dependent students whose parents were ineligible for Federal Direct PLUS. More information on aggregate loan limits can be found at


Graduate loans are disbursed by Student Financial Services at the beginning of each enrollment period based upon the following three criteria:

  1. The academic year must have started. The official first day of the academic year is  7/1/xx.
  2.  The term must have started. Official 2023-2024 term start dates are as follows – Fall 8/28/2023, Spring 1/22/2023.
  3. Courses totaling at least 3 credits must have officially begun. Each class has an official start date that may differ from the term start date. If your class start date is AFTER the official term start date, funding will not be disbursed until after the class has officially begun.

Federal aid guidelines require you to be in attendance at least 60% of your course time in order to have “earned” the entire amount of your federal financial aid. If students are not in attendance for the entire term, unearned aid will be returned.  Students who are not completing their courses will be in jeopardy of losing access to federal student loans if they are not meeting Standards of Satisfactory Progress (see Step 4.)

Loan Limits

Graduate aggregate maximum Direct Loan limit is $138,500. The graduate debt limit ALSO includes federal student loans received for undergraduate study.

For students who are enrolled in eligible Certification Programs, Undergraduate Annual Loan Limits ($12,500 per academic year) and Undergraduate Aggregate Loan Limits apply. Federal guidelines will not allow schools to award loans at graduate levels since these programs are offered at the undergraduate level. When identifying loan eligibility for certification programs, all previously borrowed undergraduate loans must be counted and cannot exceed an aggregate total of $57,500 for undergraduate independent students and $31,000 for dependent students.

* Access to graduate loan programs begins the term for which you are first accepted into a graduate program.

** Financial aid can only be used for courses required for your degree and cannot be used once you have met your degree requirements.

Graduate Financial Aid Process

The following steps provide guidance for the processes required to access financial aid programs. Be sure to contact Student Financial Services should you have questions.

Please note: PSU does not enter into Consortium Agreements with other institutions for purposes of accessing federal financial aid programs.

Apply for a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) from the Department of Education.

This ID will be used as an electronic signature on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Please keep your FSA ID in a secure place as this same information will be used throughout the remainder of your education for purposes of electronic signatures and identification.

Beginning October 1, complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the upcoming academic year. PSU’s school code is 002591. PSU draws in FAFSA data once a week.

Please use the 2023-2024 FAFSA if enrolling for Spring 2024; Please use the 2024-2025 FAFSA (Available January 2024) if enrolled for Summer 2024, Fall 2024, or Spring 2025.

After your FAFSA has been submitted, you will receive a FAFSA Submission Summary that will provide you with a copy of your FAFSA data.

Once PSU receives your FAFSA, if follow-up information is required, emails are sent to your PSU email account informing you of needed documentation. The items required will also be posted to your online myPlymouth account. Aid eligibility is identified once a student is officially accepted into a graduate program.

PLEASE NOTE: All notifications regarding your aid and bill are communicated through your online myPlymouth portal and your PSU email. We will not send mail to your home address or route it to a personal or work related email.

The aid year begins with the summer term and ends with the spring term of the following year. Please note that the award notification process will begin in May prior to the start of the academic year. Once all requested requirements have been satisfied, your application will be considered complete. Complete applications are reviewed and awarded once a week.

In accordance with requirements of the Higher Education Act (34 CFR 668.34), Plymouth State University has established certain standards for evaluating the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) of Title IV Financial Aid recipients. The Satisfactory Academic Progress policies and procedures are reviewed when changes at the federal or institutional level require us to do so to ensure compliance with federal regulations. This policy also extends to state and institutional aid programs (grant, loan, and work study).

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is the measurement of a student’s academic progress towards the completion of their degree. The measurement evaluates three components to determine eligibility for financial aid. The review of a student’s SAP status is based on his or her entire academic record, even if he/she did not receive financial aid for previous semesters of enrollment. In order to be eligible for financial aid, graduate students must satisfy all three of the following components:

  1. All degree candidates must maintain academic standing consistent with PSU’s graduation requirements regarding grade point average [GPA] by maintaining a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. Audited coursework is not included in the GPA calculation.
  2. The completion rate is calculated by dividing total earned credits by total attempted credits. A student’s completion rate must stay above the required 67% to be considered satisfactory for this component. Attempted credits include successfully completed courses, courses with non-passing grades, incomplete courses, withdrawn courses, transfer credits and repeated courses. Earned credits include successfully completed courses and transfer credits. Audited coursework is not included in this calculation.
  3. Maximum time frame of 150% of defined academic length for master’s degree programs. The maximum time frame is calculated by multiplying the published program length by 150 percent. Example: Published program length of 40 credits X 150% = 60 credits maximum time frame allowed to complete degree requirements. Implication: A student has attempted (not necessarily earned) 60 credits and has now exhausted his/her eligibility for financial aid.

Student Financial Services evaluates SAP annually at the end of each spring term for graduate students, or upon re-enrollment into the university. SAP is also reviewed at the end of each probationary period as applicable. Students must be making SAP to continue to receive financial aid in a subsequent payment period, including the summer and early spring terms. Financial aid applicants not meeting SAP standards will be deemed ineligible to receive financial aid and will be sent notification to their campus email account.

Financial Aid Termination

INELIGIBLE satisfactory academic progress status will result in the loss of all federal, state, and PSU aid, including grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study employment, until the student has met required guidelines and returns to an ELIGIBLE status.

Appeal Process

Students who do not meet the minimum SAP requirements for continuance of financial aid have the right to appeal when special circumstances exist. Conditions when a student may appeal include:

  • If you or an immediate family member experiences a serious injury, illness or mental health condition, please attach a statement from your physician or mental health professional, reflecting date(s) of occurrence/treatment.
  • If you experienced the death of immediate family member, please attach a copy of the death certificate, paper obituary/link to online obituary, or statement from physician.
  • If you experienced other circumstances beyond your control, please attach documentation that supports the situation.

Students will receive communication from the PSU Financial Aid Team regarding their INELIGIBLE status and will be advised of the requirements needed to file an appeal. If an ineligible student does not appeal, reinstatement for financial aid consideration will only occur once the student meets all of the SAP requirements. In addition, students must submit all requested documentation.

Approved Appeals/Financial Aid Probation

If an appeal is approved, financial aid will be reinstated for the following term and the student will be placed on PROBATIONARY status for that term. The student will be required to successfully complete (with passing grades) all courses attempted for that term.  Successful completion of all classes (with passing grades) will allow a student to return to an ELIGIBLE status for financial aid. Failure to meet these requirements will automatically place a student back to INELIGIBLE status.

Denied Appeals

Students whose appeals are denied are ineligible for financial aid.  The student may enroll in coursework but will be responsible for payment in full of all incurred costs. Written denial notification will be sent to the student’s campus email account. Students may wish to explore private/alternative education loan; however, please note that some private loan lenders require SAP for participation in their loan program (Continuing Education loans). Be sure you are selecting a lender that does not require SAP (SAP denied students are not eligible to receive a PLUS loan).

Re-Establishing Financial Aid Eligibility

A student may regain financial aid eligibility by successfully meeting the University’s SAP policy requirements or successfully meeting the requirements of the established academic plan. Students must notify the office in writing of their intent to use financial aid again.

Please view the “Repeat Coursework” policy for information on financial aid eligibility when repeating a required course.

All graduate students are required to complete a Graduate Student Enrollment Form annually stating the number of credit hours they plan to enroll during EACH enrollment period. 

Summer 2023, Fall 2023, and Spring 2024 Graduate Student Enrollment Form

If enrollment plans or program changes from what was reported on the Graduate Student Enrollment Status Form at any time during the year, students must provide written notice to Student Financial Services so Federal Direct Loan eligibility can be reviewed and adjusted, if necessary. Failure to update this information may cause delays in delivery of loan funds or entire cancellation of loan disbursement.

Cost of Attendance (COA) – Your Federal Direct Loan eligibility is based on on the number of credits, length of classes, and number of terms enrolled per year. The Cost of Attendance includes billed costs (tuition and fees) and estimated unbilled costs (books and personal living expenses).

Should your enrollment or the Cost of Attendance change, your Federal Direct Loan eligibility may increase or decrease accordingly. Information on actual on per credit hour tuition charges is available; please contact our office for more information.

Financial aid awards are completed on a rolling basis beginning in May of each year. Financial aid award information is only accessible online via myPlymouth. All financial aid awards will be considered accepted unless the student otherwise notifies Student Financial Services of their wish to decline the entire award or a portion of the award.

Please note that if declining aid, we will need to be notified on a yearly or per semester basis. We are unable to track changes you wish to make to future aid years.

First-time PSU Federal Direct loan borrowers must complete both online Entrance Counseling and a Master Promissory Note (MPN). PSU will be notified once you have completed and submitted these requirements. Federal loan funds will not be credited to your PSU bill with Student Financial Services until these items are completed.

Once federal aid is determined, if you still need additional funding and you have not exceeded your COA, you may apply for a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan.

  • Approval or denial for the PLUS loan is based on your credit history.
  • There is an origination fee applied to the amount requested for a PLUS loan, this impacts the actual amount paid on your bill. Fees and rates are fixed for an individual loan, however, they can change each academic year based on federal mandate.  For the most current origination fee and interest rate on the PLUS loan please visit
  • The maximum amount that you can borrow in the PLUS loan is the Cost of Attendance minus other financial aid received.

To Apply for the Federal Direct PLUS loan:

  • In order to receive a PLUS loan, you must have completed a FAFSA.
  • Log in to with your FSA ID and Password.
  • Select the tab “Apply for Aid”
  • Select the option “Apply for a Grad PLUS Loan”
  • Read and complete all the steps required for this application.

 What Happens After You Apply:

  • You will receive an immediate credit decision (approved or denied) as soon as the application is completed.
  • Student Financial Services will receive notification of the PLUS application decision within 2 to 4 business days.
  • If Approved: the maximum allowed will be added to your financial aid award.
  • If Denied:
    • You will be given the option at the end of the PLUS application to add an Endorser to your loan to try for approval. The steps required for this will be listed if you select this option.
    • You will be given the option at the end of the PLUS application to appeal the decision based on extenuating circumstances. The steps required for this process will be listed if you select this option.

Please note: If you have reached your aggregate graduate loan limit, you will not be eligible to use a Graduate PLUS loan unless satisfactory arrangements have been made with your servicer regarding repayment.

Students are required by federal guidelines to notify us of all scholarships and tuition assistance received. Additional resources may, or may not, affect your current financial aid award.

Notice to NCAA Division III Athletes: NCAA It is not permissible for a student-athlete to receive financial aid, directly or indirectly, from a source outside the institution (e.g., a foreign government, a sports association, a high school booster club) for expenses related to attendance at a member institution, if the award of such financial aid is based in any degree upon the recipient’s athletics leadership, ability, participation or performance, except as permitted in Bylaw Receipt of financial aid from such a source renders the student-athlete ineligible for all intercollegiate athletics participation. (Revised: 8/22/06, 4/30/09)

Reviews: Student Financial Services reserves the right to review and possibly revise awards based upon conflicting or inaccurate information such as number of credits taken, change in program, or aid received from other sources.

Merit Scholarships

Each year, Plymouth State offers a limited number of merit-based scholarships to admitted graduate students. Selection criteria include academic and professional achievements, commitment to graduate study, and achievement or pursuit of personal or professional goals.

Graduate Assistants

Graduate assistants are an important part of Plymouth State’s collaborative learning community. They work alongside faculty, staff, and students to help achieve the University’s goals, while gaining valuable experience as assistants, researchers, and teachers.

Graduate Assistant positions are available on a limited basis to highly qualified graduate students who’ve been fully accepted into a graduate program at Plymouth State. Applications for Assistantships should be returned to the Office of Academic Affairs by April 1 for the upcoming year.

Please visit our PSU Academic Scholarships and Scholarship Search webpages for more information on other scholarship assistance available.

After you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment, repayment will begin on your loans. Please visit our Loan Repayment webpage for more information about your grace period, consolidation options, and loan repayment options.