Graduate Students

As a graduate student seeking financial aid, you may face situations unique from those which undergraduate and applied technology students encounter.

Examples of unique situations faced by graduate students may include but are not limited to differences in:

  • requirements for Federal PLUS loans
  • credit requirements for student loan eligibility
  • student loan limits
  • maximum credit standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) eligibility
  • the impact of conditional admission

Federal PLUS Loans

Federal PLUS loans are available to graduate students who still have an unmet Cost of Attendance after borrowing $20,500 (the annual maximum) through the Federal Direct Loan program and other sources of aid.

The PLUS loans are a better financial option than an alternative student loan from a private lender.

There are differences between the Federal PLUS loan for graduate students and other federal loan programs:

  • a credit check is required to be approved for a PLUS loan.
    • Applicants with an adverse credit history may still qualify with an eligible co-signer.
  • borrowers must request an in-school deferment if enrolled at least half-time.
    • If granted, payments on the principle will be deferred, but the student should be paying the interest while enrolled.
  • variations in interest rates.
  • a separate PLUS Master Promissory Note must be completed and signed
  • a loan counseling session is required for each PLUS loan requested
  • The Graduate PLUS loan application form must be completed and submitted to the ISU Financial Aid Office. Submit the appropriate year.

To receive graduate level loans, a graduate student must:

  • be enrolled at least 5 graduate-level credits (combination of graduate and undergraduate level credits are considered on a case-by-case basis).
  • be accepted into a specific graduate program.
  • meet all other financial aid eligibility(link to how aid works>eligibility factors) requirements.

Graduate students will initially be awarded graduate-level loans with the assumption that the above enrollment requirements will be met.

If you do not meet the qualifications outlined above, you will see a hold on your Bengal Web Finances tab about a month before aid disbursement for the upcoming term.

Loan Disbursement Rules

Two loan disbursements are required for all federal loans. A 30-Day Delay is required on first disbursements for first-time, first-year borrowers.

Federal regulations require that all Direct Loans (subsidized, unsubsidized and PLUS) must be disbursed in two disbursements based on your enrollment period. The first disbursement for first-time, first-year borrowers will be 30 days after the beginning of the first semester in which you are enrolled at least half-time.

Deferring Payments

To defer payments on existing student loans, graduate student must be enrolled in 5 or more graduate level credits.

If a student drops below the 5 credit graduate level requirement or upon graduation, an Exit Interview must be completed.

More Information about Exit Interviews

Graduate Student Loan Limits

The maximum annual amount you can receive each financial aid year (fall, spring & summer) at the graduate level may not exceed your "Cost of Attendance" which is an estimated budget established each year.

Annual Graduate Loan Limits:

  • Unsubsidized Total- $20,500

If there is still unmet Cost of Attendance, the student may qualify for a Graduate PLUS Loan

The combined undergraduate and graduate total debt you can have in outstanding federal loans is $138,500. Graduate PLUS Loans are separate and can go over the maximum aggregate of $138,500.

Maximum Credits Attempted

Your financial aid eligibility will be limited to a maximum number of credit hours that you have attempted at ISU and any other institution you have attended as part of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) eligibility.

The limit on credit hours is based on your stated degree or certificate objective.

The maximum attempted credits allowed for degree or certificate completion will be no more than 150% of the credits needed to complete that type of degree.

When the maximum number of credit hours is reached, you will be denied financial aid. You may have the option to appeal for further financial aid.

Maximum credits for Graduate Student SAP Eligibility:

  • Pharm D- 270
  • Physician Assistant- 100
  • Master's Degree- 85
  • Doctoral Degree- 140
  • Ed Specialist (Ed. S)- 50

Impact of "Conditionally Admitted" status

“Conditionally admitted" is a non-eligible status for receiving federal financial aid.

When your admission status is "conditionally admitted" you will have an "Award Status" notification on your Bengal Web ("Finances tab").

"Conditionally admitted" status as a graduate student may mean one of several possible situations including:

  • you have not yet been admitted into a specific master's program
  • you may have further documents to submit to complete your application to a specific program
  • the academic department is in the process of reviewing your application
  • your academic department has not forwarded the necessary notifications to the Graduate Admissions Office

Follow up with the office of the academic program you are pursuing and with the Graduate Admissions Office at (208) 282-2150 to change your status.

Once your status with the Office of the Registrar shows you are admitted into a specific program, you should see the "Award Status" notification disappear from BengalWeb within one week.

Awarding of your aid will follow as long as all other documents are completed and you meet all other aid eligibility requirements.

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