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Anyone with a guide on how to apply for student loans for graduate studies?

I had no problems paying for college during my undergraduate studies as I had a full scholarship. Next year, I want to enroll in graduate school. Though I have saved a bit of money, it can barely cover my college fees. I need external sources of funding, and I hope to secure US department of education loans. However, I would like to know how to apply for student loans and suggestions of good federal loan options. I only know about Stafford student loan.

Jan Berry

in Student Loans

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Melissa Norris on May 4, 2018

Undergraduate students have a variety of options to pay for college studies. However, as you pursue advanced education, the possibilities get slimmer. Only a few colleges and charitable organizations grant graduate students money for tuition. For many graduate students, the cheapest loans are those the federal government offers. These loans have benefits such as no loan repayments during school and eligibility to federal loan forgiveness programs.

Eligibility criteria are more or less the same as that for undergraduate applicants. Additional requirements include:

  •    An applicant must not be in default of previous federal student loans (in the case where a student used a federal loan to fund his/ her undergraduate degree).
  •    The college you intend to attend must be accredited (by a federal-approved agency).

You don't need to stress on how to apply for these student loans; the process is simple as all you need to do is to fill a FAFSA form from the U.S Dept. of Education. Unlike in the past where graduate students had a hard time applying for federal loans, the government now works with universities’ financial aid offices directly.

Once you submit your filled application form, your college will offer you a choice of federal loan. If you accept the loan award, you will sign a few other loan papers before the funds are transferred from the government to your student’s account.

Types of US Dept. of Education loans available for graduate students:

  •    Perkins loan

Specifically tailored to help students with low incomes, Perkins is the cheapest federal loan for graduate study. If you qualify for this loan, you can get as high as $8,000 each year at a low-interest rate of 5%. No interest accrues while you are in school. Perkins allows for lifetime maximum amount of $40,000 which includes students' undergraduate debt from Perkins.

  •    Stafford student loans.

These loans may be subsidized or unsubsidized. A subsidized Stafford loan is a cheap option for needy students. The unsubsidized Stafford loans are given to any graduate who applies regardless of income level. They all charge up to 6.8% interest plus a fee of 1%. The difference is that the former doesn’t accrue interest while you are in school while the latter does.

  •    Grad PLUS loan

This loan is available to students who have reached the maximum borrowing capacity in their Perkins or Stafford but need more financial aid to cover the remaining costs for their graduate degree.

Olive Wilson2 years ago

You would be lucky to get the Perkins loan. Most colleges don't have enough (if any) Perkins money. Consequently, even if a student qualifies for a large loan under the Perkins program, the school may not have the funds to facilitate the loan.

Unsubsidized Stafford student loans are the best option for students joining a grad school. You can borrow up to $20,500 each year under a direct unsubsidized loan. The aggregate loan limit amounts to $138,500.

If you are a student in the medical or professionals, you may get up to $40,500 every year you are in grad school and not more than $224,000 in total debt.

Note that if you need additional financial assistance and apply for a loan under the PLUS program, a credit check is a must. Therefore, you will not qualify if you have defaulted on other student loans, bank loans or filed for bankruptcy. 


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