A "loan" is a form of financial aid. It is money that you borrow, which must be repaid often with interest. The most common kinds of loans are:

  • Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loan Programs
  • Federal PLUS (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students)
  • Alternative Loans

Federal Direct Loan Program (Subsidized and Unsubsidized)

The Federal Direct Loan program allows students to borrow money directly from the federal government at a low interest rate. To be eligible, you must: 

  • have a valid FAFSA for the year,
  • be enrolled in a degree granting program, and
  • be registered for at least 6 credits for each term in which you are requesting a loan.

Do keep in mind, loans and the interest accrued must be repaid. You generally have 6 months after graduating or once your enrollment falls to fewer than 6 credits, before your repayment period begins. There are multiple options for repayment. Please visit Repayment Plans on the Federal Student Aid website to read about them. Make sure Repayment plans links to .

How to Apply

Before you submit your request, remember you

  • must have completed the FAFSA application;
  • must have completed the Entrance Counseling session (selecting Graduate Center as your school) and signed the Master Promissory Note (selecting any CUNY school as the home school) online on
    • make sure to save copies of both to be uploaded along with the loan request
  • must ensure you are admitted to a degree granting program and are or will be registered for a minimum of 6 credits/units

You should also keep in mind that there are limits (see chart below) to how much you can borrow, both annual (that is summer, fall, and spring) as well as aggregate or total limits (how much you can borrow as you pursue your undergraduate or graduate degree).

To complete the request for a federal student loan, please click here

You will need to use your CUNYFirst credentials to log into the application.

****Do not submit a request via CUNYFirst Direct Loan Processing Form.****


Things to consider:

  • When completing the loan request, if you indicate at least 6 credits in summer, 6 credits in fall, and 6 credits in spring, the amount requested would be divided in three, with a third per semester, i.e., if your request is $6,000 for all three terms, $2,000 would be processed per term.
  • There is an origination fee that is applied to each disbursement of the loan prior to the funds disbursing to the school.
  • Allow 4-6 weeks for processing.


Maximum Annual Limits for Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loans

Dependent (Any combination of Subsidized and/or Unsubsidized)

Grade Level Max Subsidized Unsubsidized
Freshman $3,500  $2,000 
Sophomore $4,500  $2,000 
Junior/Senior $5,500  $2,000 

Independent (Any combination of Subsidized and/or Unsubsidized)

Grade Level Max Subsidized Unsubsidized
Freshman $3,500  $6,000 
Sophomore $4,500  $6,000 
Junior/Senior $5,500  $7,000 

Grade Levels: 
Freshman = 0-29.9 credits earned
Sophomore = 30-59.9 credits earned 
Junior/Senior = 60+ credits earned



Federal PLUS (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students)

Parents of dependent undergraduate students may be able to borrow a Parent Plus loan to assist in paying for the child’s education. The amount is limited by the cost of attendance minus any other financial aid. 

How to Apply

What happens if the plus loan application is denied by the federal government?

You, the dependent student may be eligible to borrow additional unsubsidized loans in your own name.


Alternative Loans

If your student status is:

  • Non-matriculated
  • International Student
  • Have reached the federal student aggregated limits

You may be eligible for alternative loans.

Once you have applied and been preapproved by a lender, please contact the Financial Aid Office at (646) 664-8720 for further instructions.

The choice of a lender is ultimately your decision. Here are some things to consider as you seek possible lenders for alternative loans:

  • Interest rate of the loan
  • Repayment schedule and monthly amounts
  • Length of repayment period
  • Total amount you will repay over the life of the loan
  • Penalties for missing monthly payments
  • Options for loan consolidation