Federal Student Loans

There are two types of low-interest student loans from the federal government specifically for graduate students: Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Direct PLUS Loans. To qualify for these federal loans, you need to be a US citizen or eligible noncitizen and enrolled at least part time in a Mills graduate program.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans | Direct PLUS Loans

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Also known as Direct Unsubsidized Loans, this is the primary federal student loan for graduate students. These loans are “unsubsidized” because you don’t have to demonstrate financial need to qualify for them.

  • If you are in a master's or doctoral program, you can borrow up to $20,500 a year.
  • If you are in a certificate program, you can borrow up to $12,500 a year.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans are not credit-based, and the funds come directly from the federal government rather than from a bank or other financial institution.

Borrowing Limits for Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Mills determines the loan type(s), if any, and the actual loan amount a student is eligible to receive each academic year. However, there are limits on the amount in unsubsidized loans that you may be eligible to receive each academic year (annual loan limits) and the total amounts that you may borrow (aggregate loan limits). The actual loan amount you are eligible to receive each academic year may be less than the annual loan limit.

As of the 2018-19 academic year, the federal loan limits are:

Dependent Students (except students whose parents are unable to obtain PLUS loans) Independent Students (and dependent certificate program students whose parents are unable to obtain PLUS Loans)
Certificate Program Students Annual Loan Limit $7,500—No more than $5,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans. $12,500—No more than $5,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.
Graduate or Professional Students Annual Loan Limit Not applicable (all graduate and professional students are considered independent) $20,500 (unsubsidized only)
Subsidized and Unsubsidized Aggregate Loan Limit $31,000—No more than $23,000 of this amount may be in subsidized loans. $138,500 for graduate or professional students—No more than $65,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans. The graduate aggregate limit includes all federal loans received for undergraduate study.

Visit the Federal Student Aid webpage on unsubsidized loans for more information and to view the most current borrowing limits.

Direct PLUS Loans

Direct PLUS Loans are designed to help you pay for educational expenses not covered by Direct Unsubsidized Loans and other forms of aid.

  • There’s no set borrowing limit for Direct PLUS Loans. Your maximum PLUS Loan amount is calculated by subtracting the total amount of financial assistance you’ve already received from the total cost of attendance.
  • The US Department of Education requires that you complete a separate application and a credit check to complete the PLUS Loan application process.

These loans are available to graduate students who have no adverse credit history as determined by the US Department of Education. Direct PLUS Loan funds come directly from the federal government rather than from a bank or other financial institution.