Office of Financial Aid

University of Mississippi

Federal Direct PLUS Loan

What are Federal Direct PLUS loans?

The Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) is a credit-based loan made available through the Direct Loan Program which aids parents in helping to pay for the education of their dependent children. The PLUS is not based on financial need but may not exceed cost-of-attendance in combination with other aid.

A dependent child is defined as one who:

  • is under the age 24
  • is not  considered married as of the date of FAFSA filing
  • will not be enrolled in a graduate or professional degree (master’s or doctorate) program
  • is not currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training,
  • is not  a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces,
  • does not have legal dependents for whom they provide more than half of their financial support
  • is not an orphan, foster child, or ward/dependent of the court at any time since age of 13,
  • is not  an emancipated minor or in legal guardianship, or were when reaching the age of majority in your state (NOTE:  The United States Department of Education does not recognize Emancipation of a Mississippi Resident as being valid to establish independent student status for Federal Financial Aid.),
  • is not an unaccompanied youth, or are/were homeless or at risk of being homeless

Advantages are:

  • Option to defer payment until student graduates or drops below half time.

  • A cost-effective alternative to depleting savings or retirement accounts, using current income or borrowing against home equity.
  • For loans with a first disbursement date between July 1, 2016 and June 30,2017, the interest rate is fixed at 6.31%. For loans with a first disbursement date between July 1,2017 and June 30,2018, the interest rate is fixed at 7% .
  • There is no prepayment penalty.

  • The credit criteria are generally more lenient than for private loans.

  • In cases of economic hardship, repayment may be deferred for up to three years.

  • In the event of permanent disability or death of the borrower or student, your loan will be forgiven.


An eligible credit worthy parent is defined as natural, adoptive or in some cases step-parent (if listed on the FAFSA).  The student must be enrolled in school at least half-time and must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress. The Office of Financial Aid determines the amount of Direct PLUS loan eligibility in accordance with federal requirements.

Eligibility for the Direct PLUS loan depends on a modest credit check that determines if the parent has what is termed an “adverse credit history”.

Your credit history may be considered adverse if you are experiencing any of the following credit conditions:

  • Bankruptcy discharge within the past five years.
  • Voluntary surrender of personal property to avoid repossession within the last five years.
  • Repossession of collateral within the last five years.
  • Foreclosure proceedings started.
  • Foreclosure within the last five years.
  • Conveying your real property that is subject to a mortgage (by deed) to your lender to avoid foreclosure (deed in lieu of foreclosure).
  • Accounts currently 90 days or more delinquent.
  • Unpaid collection accounts.
  • Charge-offs/write-offs of federal student loans.
  • Wage garnishment within the last five years.
  • Defaulting on a loan, even if the claim has been paid.
  • Lease or contract terminated by default.
  • County/state/federal tax lien within the past five years.

If a parent is denied for a Direct PLUS Loan, then the dependent student may be eligible to borrow up to an additional $4000 in Direct Unsubsidized loans if a freshman or sophomore and $5000 if a junior or senior. Please note that if one parent is approved and another parent is denied for the same student, then the dependent student is ineligible for the additional Direct Unsubsidized loans per federal regulations.

How Much Can Be Borrowed? 

Parents may borrow up to their student’s total cost of attendance less other financial aid received such as grants and scholarships. On the student’s financial aid award package this is listed as an “estimated Credit based loan,” which will show you how much could potentially be applied for to be borrowed. The total cost of attendance is determined by the Office of Financial Aid based on an average cost for tuition, books, room and board, travel, and miscellaneous expenses for the academic year. It is important that each family fully understand how a Direct PLUS loan will impact them financially. Most financial experts advise that one should not incur debt (excluding mortgage debt) that results in total monthly payments (debt-to-income ratio) exceeding 20% of your monthly gross income.

Interest Rates

For loans with a first disbursement date between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017, the interest rate is fixed at 6.31%. For loans with a first disbursement date between July 1,2017 and June 30, 2018, the interest rate is fixed at 7% .

Loan Fees

For loans made from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017, the origination fee is 4.276%. For loans made from October 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018, the origination fee is 4.264%.

How do my parents process a Federal Direct PLUS application?

  1. If eligible, a student will be awarded an Estimated Credit-Based Loan on their Financial Aid Award Notification. A FAFSA must be filed to establish eligibility.
  2. Parent borrowers who wish to utilize the Direct PLUS program should have their student accept the estimated Direct PLUS Loan on the Award Notification indicating the amount desired.
  3. To apply, the parent borrower will apply online at Borrowers will enter school and loan information, borrower information, and consent to a credit check and sign the PLUS Master Promissory Note (MPN).   The MPN should be reviewed for accuracy before signing.
  4. The Direct Loan Program will conduct a credit investigation and notify the parent as to approval or denial.
  5. If the loan is denied, the student should contact the Office of Financial Aid about other borrowing options.
  6. If approved, loan proceeds will be sent directly to the University. The disbursement will reflect the amount of the loan less origination fees. The proceeds will be applied to the students account to clear any balances. Remaining funds will be direct deposited or mailed directly to the parent borrower in the form of a paper check.

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Please be aware that any refunds from Direct PLUS loans will be sent directly to the parent borrower. While the Department of Education’s Direct PLUS application asks parents whether they want any refunds to go to the student or the parent, The University of Mississippi sends all Direct PLUS refunds exclusively to the parent borrower.

If the parent borrower did not set up direct deposit with the Bursar, then any Direct PLUS refunds will be sent via paper check to the parent borrower’s address.