In addition to private loans, Johns Hopkins School of Education students are eligible for two federal loan programs — the Federal Direct Loan (which can either be subsidized or unsubsidized) and the Federal GradPLUS Loan.

The subsidized direct loans are for students who need financial help, while the unsubsidized loans are based on other factors like cost of attendance. Former Federal Perkins Loan receivers repay the loan directly to our institution. 

The Federal GradPLUS Loan is designed for graduate students registered at least half-time, helping them financially when they require it the most. 

We recommend students to use their federal loan eligibility fully before considering other private loans. Our main objective is to offer equal opportunities to all our students, reflecting our core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Federal Loan Programs

Federal Direct Loans

The subsidized Federal Direct Loan is based on financial need. If you qualify for a subsidized Direct Loan, the federal government pays interest on the loan (“subsidizes” the loan) until you begin repayment and during authorized periods of deferment thereafter.

An unsubsidized Direct Loan is not awarded on the basis of need but is based on cost of attendance less other aid and resources. If you qualify for an unsubsidized loan, you’ll be charged interest from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full. You can choose to pay the interest or allow it to accumulate. If you allow the interest to accumulate, it will be capitalized – that is, the interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan and will increase the amount you have to repay. If you pay the interest as it accumulates, you will repay less in the long run. There is no penalty for prepayment of loans.

The federal government ceased funding of the Federal Perkins Loan program thus the loan is no longer available to students. For prior Perkins Loan borrowers, the Federal Perkins Loan program is administered by JHU, therefore, the money borrowed is paid back to JHU. The rate of interest is fixed at 5%. Interest does not accrue until the loan goes into repayment. Repayment begins nine months after completion of studies and can extend up to ten years. Deferment and repayment information is sent to all borrowers by the Student Loans Office. The loan proceeds are credited to your account ten days prior to the start of the semester if a promissory note has been signed. JHU must report the date and amount of each disbursement of Federal Perkins Loan funds to at least one national credit bureau.

Federal GradPLUS Loans

The Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan (GradPLUS) is a credit-based loan program available to graduate students enrolled at least half-time, whose maximum federal loan eligibility is not sufficient to cover their educational costs. Before applying for a GradPLUS Loan, students must first complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). A credit check will be performed during the application process. If a student has an adverse credit history and their GradPLUS application is denied, they may still be eligible by obtaining an endorser or appealing the credit decision. GradPLUS borrowers can borrow up to the full cost of attendance in combination with other aid and resources. Repayment of a GradPLUS Loan begins 60 days after the second disbursement. Complete the electronic GradPLUS Loan application.

Required Federal Loan Documents

In order to receive federal loans, you will need to complete the required loan documents which include a Loan Agreement (also known as the Master Promissory Note or MPN) and Entrance Counseling.


To be eligible for federal (and state) aid, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Not owe a refund on a federal grant or be in default on a federal education loan
  • Be admitted prior to the first day of classes for the semester in which you receive aid; students admitted in mid-term will become eligible for federal aid the following semester

Alternative and Private Loans

Some lenders offer alternative private loans. Johns Hopkins University recommends that students exhaust their eligibility for federal loans before considering private or alternative loan programs. If you are uncertain about your eligibility for federal loans, please contact the Financial Aid Office prior to initiating a private loan application. You must use our school code (002077-03) when applying for an alternative loan. These credit-based alternative loans are offered by private lenders to students who:

  • Are enrolled less than half-time
  • Have not yet applied for admission or who have been conditionally or provisionally admitted
  • Do not qualify for federal loan
  • Have received the maximum federal loan allowed annually, but the amount is not sufficient to cover their educational costs
  • Are non-citizens enrolled at least half-time

International students are encouraged to investigate the possibility of aid through their government or outside agencies before applying for these loans, which require a citizen co-signer.

As a service to students and their families, Johns Hopkins University makes available this link to ELM Select. ELM Select is an interactive tool to help students and families better understand their private loan options. The university does not endorse or recommend any lender, nor does the university have any financial interest in any lending institution. Students have the right to select the educational loan provider of their choice.

Students who apply for non-federal loans must complete a promissory note with their lenders. These loans are certified by the school only upon notification from the lender that the student’s credit and that of his/her co-signer, if required, have been approved and a promissory note has been completed. As part of the application process, your lender will have you complete a Private Education Loan Applicant Self Certification. The information you need to enter in Section 2 of this form may be obtained by contacting the Financial Aid Office through SEAM’s online form.

We process alternative loans through the Electronic Loan Management (ELM) Resources system. Note that such loans cannot exceed the student’s estimated cost of attendance. The school reserves the right to deny certification of loans per federal regulations.

Questions to Ask a Private Lender

  • What is your lowest interest rate and fee combination and how can I get it? Is the rate only for a limited period or is it for the life of the loan?
  • For variable rate loans, is there a limit on how high the variable rate can go? How often is the interest rate adjusted, and how is it determined?
  • What interest rate can I get on a fixed-rate loan?
  • How long will I be repaying the loan? Is there any penalty for paying it off early?
  • When do I have to start making payments? How long can I defer payments while I’m in school? If I go to graduate school and defer payments, how much will I owe when I do start making them?
  • Will I lose my discount for paying on time if I have only one late payment or if I ask for a change in the payment schedule?
  • What proportion of your borrowers get the discounts you offer? Are your discounts guaranteed or are they subject to change later?
  • Would you allow me to defer or reduce my payments temporarily because of economic hardship? Under what circumstances and for how long?

Consumer Information on Student Loans

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