Loans - Graduate Programs Financial Aid

Federal loans

Two types of non-need based federal loans are available to graduate students enrolled at least half-time. Both loans accrue interest while in school, with payments deferred until after the grace period (6 months after you become enrolled less than half-time or graduate).  Messiah University defines half-time as 3-5 credits per semester.

Interest begins accruing as soon as each loan is disbursed.  It is recommended that accrued interest be paid while you are in school, as this will greatly reduce your long-term loan debt. 

In addition to the fixed interest rate, Direct Loans charges an origination fee that reduces the net amount of loan disbursed onto the student’s account.  Federal loans generally offer lower interest rates than private loans, are guaranteed by the U.S. Government, and offer flexible repayment plans and loan forgiveness programs. To apply for one or both loans, see How to Apply for Aid. Additional information about federal student loans is available at

1. Unsubsidized Direct Loan

The fixed interest rate for unsubsidized Direct Loans for the 2023-2024 academic year is 7.05% with a 1.057% origination fee. This applies to loans that disburse on or after July 1, 2023.

Eligible students may receive up to $10,250 per semester (including summer semester) with an aggregate limit of $138,500, which includes any Direct Loans borrowed while obtaining an undergraduate degree.

Since interest rates and fees are lower on unsubsidized Direct Loans, students are encouraged to take advantage of this loan before taking a Graduate PLUS loan.

2. Graduate PLUS Loan

The fixed interest rate for Graduate PLUS Loans for the 2023-2024 academic year is 8.05% with a 4.228% origination fee. This applies to loans that disburse on or after July 1, 2023.

 Eligible students may borrow up to the cost of attendance for the year – which can include some living expenses – minus other aid received.  A simple credit check is required. 

Most students find the unsubsidized Direct Loan meets all their financial needs.  The Graduate PLUS Loan is helpful to students who have reached the aggregate limit of $138,500, or those with educational expenses that exceed $10,250 each semester.

Private student loans

Some private loan providers offer rates that are competitive with the Graduate PLUS Loan for applicants with excellent credit.  There are also loans specific to MBA and health professional graduate students that may be worthwhile to research.

The terms and conditions of private student loans vary greatly. We recommend that you pay close attention to the eligibility criteria and terms, and be aware that not all private loans are available to graduate students.  This link to Elm Select provides a list of lenders other students have used. Another resource is your current bank or credit union.  Finally, the below marketplace, Credible, is an excellent tool to compare loan products.


What is Credible?
Credible is a unique marketplace of student loan lenders, providing personalized, prequalified rates from multiple lenders. Credible allows you to compare loans from multiple providers side-by-side in under 2 minutes, including eligibility rules, rates, and terms. Credible is not a lender or bank — Credible partners with student loan lenders so they can provide you with a variety of competitive options, enabling you to find the right loan product for your needs. Best of all, Credible is completely free! You can find out more about Credible and begin your process @ You can email Credible at or call at 866-540-6005.

What makes Credible different from other comparison sites?
With Credible’s lending marketplace, you can fill out a simple, two-minute form and instantly see which lenders you qualify for and at what rates. These are personalized, prequalified rates based on your credit history and you can easily add a cosigner. Checking your prequalified rates with Credible will not affect your credit score. Most other comparison sites will only provide you with generic information about a given financial service provider — the rates and information you see will not be personalized to you and your credit history.