Financial Aid Office


Federal Direct Loans

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Loans are borrowed money that you repay with interest to the U.S. Department of Education. Direct Loans are low-interest loans for students to help pay for the cost of a student's education. The lender is the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) rather than a bank or other financial institution.

All Cleveland State University students who complete the FAFSA will be awarded the Federal Direct Loan based on their grade level as determined by the number of credit hours earned in total. The Subsidized Direct Loan is awarded to students who demonstrate financial need. The Unsubsidized Direct Loan is awarded to students who do not demonstrate financial need. Interest will accrue on unsubsidized loans and will capitalize unless you choose to pay the interest while in school.

Students must be enrolled at least half time (6 credit hours undergraduate, graduate and law) and meet all other compliance requirements in order for the loan funds to be credited to the student account. If the funds cause a credit balance on the student account, the Treasury Services Office will issue a refund.

Repayment of the loan begins six months after you have graduated or ceased to be enrolled at least half time (6 credit hours)

To borrow from the Direct Loan program for the first time, you must complete a Direct Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN). The MPN will be provided online at the Direct Loans Master Promissory Note website.

The MPN is a legal document in which you promise to repay your loan(s) and any accrued interest and fees to the U.S. Department of Education. It also explains the terms and conditions of your loan(s).To complete an MPN online, you will be required to use your FSA ID. If you do not have an FSA ID, please click here to create an FSA ID now.

Loan Entrance/Exit Counseling: All student borrowers of the Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized, and Direct PLUS Loans (for graduate/professional students) are required to complete Loan Entrance Counseling, which will help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a student loan borrower.

Loan Exit Counseling for student borrowers is required before you leave school, graduate, or drop below half-time enrollment (even if you plan to transfer to another school). Exit counseling provides important information you will need as your prepare to repay your federal student loans.

*Dropping below 6 credit hours is considered less than half-time for financial aid purposes. Individual programs definition of half-time enrollment may vary.

For your convenience, a Counseling Demo tool is available to tour the entrance/exit counseling information.

Warning: Viewing the Counseling Demo above does not fulfill counseling requirements. You will be required to sign in to view your federal student loan data available in NSLDS and save proof of counseling completion. CSU will be notified electronically upon your successful completion.  Financial Awareness Counseling also does not fulfill the Entrance Counseling requirements.

You will need your FSA ID to access your entrance/exit counseling sessions.

Please contact a Campus 411 All-In-One Enrollment Services Specialist at 216-687-5411 or in-person at Main Classroom 116 with any questions pertaining to the entrance/exit counseling requirements.


A deferment means you may postpone making payments on your loan under specific conditions.

Loan Limits

Review the chart below for annual and aggregate limits for the Federal Stafford Loan.

  Annual Loan Limits Aggregate Loan Limits
Grade in School Base Amount Additional Unsubsidized Total Subsidized Limit Overall Limit
Undergraduate Dependent*       $23,000 $31,000
First Year $3,500 $2,000 $5,500    
Second Year $4,500 $2,000 $6,500    
Third Year and beyond $5,500 $2,000 $7,500    
Undergraduate Independent       $23,000 $57,500
First Year $3,500 $6,000 $9,500    
Second Year $4,500 $6,000 $10,500    
Third Year and beyond $5,500 $7,000 $12,500    
Graduate $8,500 $12,000 $20,500 $65,500 $138,500
* Undergraduate Dependent students whose parents is not credit worthy to borrow a PLUS loan will be eligible for the Undergraduate Independent loan limits.

Loan Eligibility for Non-Degree Graduate Students

A non-degree graduate student may be eligible to borrow subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford Loans for 12 consecutive months provided the student has not reached their maximum aggregate borrowing level as an undergraduate student. Maximum aggregate amount for an independent undergraduate student is $57,500. To receive Federal Stafford Loan funds for 12 months as a non-degree graduate borrower, a student must remain registered in graduate-level classes for a minimum of six credit hours during three consecutive semesters.

While attending as a non-degree graduate student, the maximum borrowing levels for one academic year is $5,500 subsidized and $7,000 unsubsidized Stafford Loans.

Below you will find examples of loan eligibility based on the 12 consecutive months rule:

  Summer 2015 Fall 2015 Spring 2016 Summer 2016 Fall 2016 Explanation
1. No Loans Received loan(s) Received loan(s) No Loans No remaining eligibility Although the student only borrowed for two (2) semesters, 12 months have passed since the initiation of the loan(s).
2. No Loans No Loans Received loan(s) Received loan(s) Eligible to receive loan(s) Fall 2015 semester will be the last semester with loan eligibility.
3. No Loans No Loans No Loans Received loan(s) Eligible to receive loan(s) Spring 2016 semester will be the last semester of eligibility.
4. Received loan(s) Received loan(s) No Loans No remaining eligibility No remaining eligibility Although the student only borrowed for two (2) semesters, the 12 months eligibility period ended at the end of Spring semester 2015.


Federal Direct PLUS Loan for Parents

Parents of dependent students are eligible to borrow funds under the Federal Direct PLUS Loan program.  The PLUS loan requires a credit worthy parent borrower and allows the parent to borrow the cost of attendance minus other financial aid.  The eligible parent borrower must be the student’s parent, or the step parent whose information is listed on the FAFSA during the year of the loan.

Apply for a Parent PLUS Loan

2017-2018Beginning May 1, 2017, complete your PLUS Application entirely online at!  Parent Borrowers will be able to request a PLUS Loan and receive an immediate credit decision. 

Parents are required to use their own FSA ID to access the Parent PLUS Loan Request online and to complete the required PLUS Master Promissory Note.

Steps to Apply for a Parent PLUS Loan:

1.  The student must have a valid FAFSA on file with CSU.

2.  The parent must log in to using their FSA ID.

3.  Once logged in, the parent should click on “Apply for a PLUS Loan” and select “Complete PLUS Request for Parents”.  All required fields must be completed.

4.  At the end of the application, the parent will be asked to consent to a credit check and will receive an immediate credit decision.

5.  If approved for the loan:

  • The parent must sign an electronic Master Promissory Note (eMPN) for the PLUS Loan at
  • If the parent was initially denied the PLUS Loan but successfully appealed or obtained a credit-worthy endorser, the parent must also complete the newly required PLUS counseling at
  • The Financial Aid Office will receive electronic notification of the loan approval and add the loan fund to the student’s financial aid package.  Please note the amount of your loan request may be reduced if it exceeds the student’s Cost-of-Attendance.

6.  If denied for the loan (Parent has 4 options):

  • Parent may choose to obtain an endorser and complete PLUS Counseling;
  • Appeal the credit decision by providing the U.S. Department of Education with documentation of extenuating circumstances and complete PLUS Counseling;
  • Not to pursue a Direct PLUS Loan at this time, which allows eligible students to receive up to $4,000 or $5,000 in an “additional” Unsubsidized loan depending upon the student’s grade level; or
  • Indicate a response of Undecided, which will prompt the school to take no further action on the Direct PLUS Request nor award the student “additional” Unsub.

Parent PLUS Loan Proceeds

Disbursements for Direct PLUS Loans will be deposited in the student’s CSU account and applied to tuition, fees, room, board, and other authorized charges (even if these charges have been previously paid by other funds).  On the PLUS Application, the parent must decide if the student or parent receives the excess PLUS loan funds if a credit balance is created as a result of the disbursement.

If the parent elects to receive the excess funds directly, a paper check will be issued and mailed to the parent borrower approximately 10 days following disbursement notification.   

Parent PLUS Loan Repayment

Your Direct PLUS Loan enters repayment once your loan is fully disbursed (paid out).  However, parent borrowers may contact their loan servicer to request a deferment while you or your son/daughter are 1) enrolled at least half-time and 2) for an additional six months after your son/daughter ceases to be enrolled as least half-time. 

If your loan is deferred, interest will accrue on the loan during the deferment.   

Please visit the Federal Student Aid webpage for additional information on the PLUS Loan application, repayment, and current interest rate and origination fees.  


Federal Direct PLUS Loan for Graduate Students

The Graduate PLUS Loan is a federal student loan designed for Graduate students who have reached their annual maximum for the Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans.

2017-2018:  Beginning May 1, 2017, complete your PLUS Application entirely online at!  Borrowers will be able to request a PLUS Loan and receive an immediate credit decision.

To receive a Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, you must

  • be a graduate or professional degree student enrolled at least half-time (6 credit-hours); and
  • meet the credit requirements as determined by the US Department of Education.

Additional Requirements:

Graduate PLUS borrowers are required to complete the electronic Graduate PLUS Master Promissory Note (MPN) and Entrance Loan Counseling.  Entrance counseling will help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a student loan borrower.  Click on to complete the MPN and Entrance Counseling for the Graduate PLUS loan.

PLUS COUNSELING – For Adverse Credit History

The US Department of Education now requires Adverse Credit History Loan Counseling for PLUS loan borrowers with adverse credit decisions.  The parent/graduate borrower is required to complete PLUS Counseling at if their credit decision was denied and they obtained an approved endorser or documented extenuating circumstances to the satisfaction of the US Department of Education. 

Please note PLUS Counseling does not replace the federally required Entrance Loan Counseling as described above.