Admissions and Financial Aid

Student Loans

There are three primary loan options available to students depending upon enrollment status and citizenship. Information about each option is included below.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans (also called Unsubsidized Stafford Loans) are non–need-based guaranteed educational loans. With a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan, students can borrow up to $20,500 per year. Unlike Subsidized Loans, Unsubsidized Loans accumulate interest while students are in their program, and this interest is added to the principal amount. However, students do not have to make payments on their loans while they are enrolled in their program at least half-time. 

Step-by-Step: Applying for a Direct Unsubsidized Loan

  1. Fill out the FAFSA. FAFSA Tips: the Title IV school code (Section H) is 002133 and all graduate students are considered independent and do not need to provide their parents’ financial information. Master’s and Ph.D. students may request up to $20,500 in Federal Direct Loans per year.
  2. Login to WorkDay. From your Workday home screen, click the Financial Aid Dashboard applications. Then complete: Heller Stafford Loan Application.
  3. After submitting the FAFSA, the Department of Education will send you a Student Aid Report (SAR). When the SAR arrives, carefully check it for accuracy and make any necessary corrections. The Brandeis Financial Aid office will receive this information electronically.
  4.  If you are selected for verification, you may be asked to complete additional paperwork or submit supporting documentation such as proof of citizenship.
  5. Once you have been approved for a Federal Direct Loan, the Financial Aid Office will send a loan letter to you outlining the amount and disbursement schedule for your loan.
  6. Complete Entrance Counseling. To begin your Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan Entrance Counseling session online, go to the U.S. Department of Education's Direct Loan Servicing website and click the green "Sign In" button at the top left of the screen. You will need your FSA ID in order to sign in.  If you have not yet created your FSA ID, you should do so first.
  7. Sign Master Promissory Note (MPN). Once you have completed Entrance Counseling, you will need to sign your MPN.  Important: Please select "Brandeis University" on the Department of Education's website. Failure to sign your MPN will result in the cancellation of this loan under federal regulations. If the cancellation of this loan causes a balance due on your account, a hold will be placed on your account.
  8. Once you have fulfilled all loan and course registration requirements, you may then file for a refund of your credit balance through Student Financial Services. The earliest loan credit can be released from your account is 10 days before classes begin.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans FAQs

What's the difference between a Federal Direct Subsidized Loan and a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan?

The primary difference is that Unsubsidized Loans accrue interest while you are in school, while Subsidized Loans do not. Graduate students are not eligible for Direct Subsidized Loans. 

Am I eligible to receive a Direct Unsubsidized Loan?

Direct Unsubsidized Loans are not need-based. However, students are not eligible if they (a) have reached their maximum lifetime aggregate limit (currently $138,500), or (b) are in default status for a previously awarded federal loan. 

What is an origination fee, and how much is the origination fee?

The origination fee is a percentage of the loan amount and is proportionately deducted from each loan disbursement. The government charges an origination fee of 1.057% (for loans first disbursed on or after on or after October 1, 2020, and before October 1, 2022) on the total amount of the loan. The loan proceeds will be disbursed directly to the student's account, less the fee, in equal amounts, one payment for each term in the loan period.

How much is the interest on a Direct Unsubsidized Loan?

The government charges an interest rate of 5.28% for loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2021 and before July 1, 2022. Keep in mind that with Direct Unsubsidized Loans, interest accumulates while you are in your program. 

Are there limits to how much money can I request?

The maximum amount of Direct Unsubsidized Loan that a student may request in one academic or calendar year is $20,500. The summer semester may either be included as the beginning or the end of an academic year. 

When do I have to pay back my loan?

Although your loan will be accumulating interest, you do not have to repay your loan while you are enrolled at least part-time in your program. After you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment, you will have a six-month grace period before you are required to begin repayment. 

Can I cancel my loan if I decide I don't need it?

Yes. Before your loan money is disbursed, you may cancel all or part of your loan at any time by notifying your school. After your loan is disbursed, you may cancel all or part of the loan within certain time frames. Your promissory note and additional information you receive from your school will explain the procedures and time frames for canceling your loan.

Graduate Plus Loans

The Graduate PLUS Loan is a fixed-interest student loan guaranteed by the federal government that allows graduate students to borrow the total cost for their graduate school needs, including tuition, room and board, supplies, lab expenses, and travel, less than any other aid. The Graduate PLUS Loan is a non-need, credit-based loan similar to a private student loan with the benefit of having a fixed interest rate and federal guarantee. U.S. citizens or eligible permanent residents enrolled at least half-time in a degree program can be considered for Graduate PLUS Loans.

Step-by-Step: Applying for a Graduate PLUS Loan

  1. Log in to the Department of Education's website, and select the “Log In” button. (You will need your FSA ID to sign in. If you do not have an FSA ID, please apply for one at If you need assistance in obtaining an FSA ID and password, you can also call 1-800-557-7394). Once you have logged in, you will need to navigate to the I’M IN SCHOOL Checklist.
  2. Select the link to Apply for a PLUS Loan for Graduate School. This will run a credit check to confirm eligibility for a Graduate PLUS Loan.
  3. Select the link to Complete Entrance Counseling. You will be provided information regarding the terms and conditions associated with the Graduate PLUS Loan program, and you will need to complete a short quiz regarding what you have learned from this introduction.
  4. Complete the Master Promissory Note. Select the link to Complete Loan Agreement then select START for PLUS MPN for Graduate/Professional Students. Steps 2 and 3 will only need to be done the first time you borrow a Graduate PLUS Loan, as your promissory note is good for up to 10 years.

Graduate PLUS Loan FAQs

How much can I borrow with a Graduate PLUS Loan?

The yearly limit on a Graduate PLUS Loan is equal to your cost of attendance minus any other financial aid you receive. For example, if your cost of attendance is $60,000 and you receive $40,000 in other financial aid, you could borrow up to but no more than $20,000.

What kind of credit do I need?

A qualified Graduate Plus Loan borrower does not have an adverse credit history (defined in regulations as being 90 days or more delinquent on any debt, or having a credit report that shows default, discharge, foreclosure, repossession, tax lien, wage garnishment or write-off of a Title IV debt during the five years preceding the date of the credit report). Note that Graduate and Professional Student PLUS Loans do not use any kind of debt-to-income ratio or FICO® score, unlike private educational loans.

Do I need a co-signer?

Graduate students with good credit should not need a co-signer to apply for the loan. You might need a cosigner if your credit is insufficient. If you are denied, you can re-apply with a cosigner.

What is the interest rate on Graduate PLUS Loans?

Graduate PLUS Loan rates are fixed at 6.28%% for loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2021, and before July 1, 2022. Interest is charged on the loan from the date the first disbursement is made until the loan is paid in full.

What fees are associated with Graduate PLUS Loans?

Graduate PLUS Loans have a federal origination fee of 4.228%% on or after October 1, 2020, and before October 1, 2022.

Private Loans

Both international students and domestic students could be eligible for private loans. These are U.S. based private loan options, but international students need to have a U.S. or naturalized citizen to co-sign the loan. You can research these loan options at ELM Select. All of these loans will require a credit check. Please note that although interest rates for private loans may appear lower sometimes than federal loans, the repayment options may also be less flexible for private loans. 

Loans for International Students

International students are eligible for private loans. Private educational loans depend upon applications sent directly to the lending organizations. Each private lending organization has its own policies governing when the approval can be made, so the best way to check this out would be on the organizations' individual websites. If you are considering loans to finance your studies, you will need to show that you have secured the amount indicated on your VIDOF form minus any scholarships you may have received from the Heller School. As the loan process can be lengthy, you should begin the process as soon as possible. There are U.S. based private loan options, but international students need to have a U.S. or naturalized citizen to co-sign the loan. You can research these loan options at the Federal Student Aid web site. Please note that you would NOT be eligible for the federal loan options, only the private lenders. You may also want to conduct a search for educational loans for international students on the web. Two options are International Student Loan and Global Student Loan Corporation.