Graduate Students


Types of Aid

Grants & Scholarships

GRADUATE TUITION REMISSION/WAIVER/STIPEND – These awards are not administered through the Office of Financial Aid, but must be considered when determining your federal aid eligibility.  Award notification and eligibility for these are determined by the School you have been admitted.

Student Loans
  • FEDERAL DIRECT UNSUBSIDIZED DIRECT LOAN -- "Unsubsidized" means that the federal government does not pay the interest on your behalf while you attend college at least half-time. You are responsible for the accrued interest while you are in school. Should you choose not to make payments while you are in school, interest accrued will be added to the principal amount borrowed. Eligibility is based on the cost of attendance minus other aid awards. The Department of Education will retain 1.057% of the amount you borrow for loan fees.  Graduate students may borrow up to $20,500 per year.  The annual interest rate is a fixed rate equal to the high yield Treasury Note as of June 1st plus 3.06%. The 2023-2024 interest rate is 7.05%.
    Repayment of the unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan interest begins immediately after disbursement (unless you elect not to make payments) and interest + principal six months after you graduate or cease to be enrolled at least half-time. The monthly payment varies depending on the total amount borrowed. The standard repayment term is 10 years.
  • FEDERAL DIRECT GRADUATE PLUS LOAN – Maximum eligibility is determined by cost of attendance minus other financial aid. A credit check is required, but a student with limited or no credit history may still qualify. The Department of Education will retain 4.228% of the amount you borrow for in loan fees if your first disbursement is prior to 10/1/2024.  Repayment begins 60 days after the funds are fully disbursed, but a student may defer principal and capitalize interest while enrolled at least half-time. The annual interest rate is a fixed rate equal to the high yield Treasury Note as of June 1st plus 4.6%.  The 2020-2021 interest rate is 8.05%. For additional information, visit our website for instructions on how to apply for this program.

Graduate Students Guide to Financial Aid

Steps below detail your financial aid award(s). You will need to take the appropriate action in the section titled “Your Responsibilities” to ensure your financial aid is properly processed. 

Your Responsibilities
  • Your financial aid award(s) will appear on your award notification.  Should you wish to decline or reduce an aid source offered to you, then you must notify us within ten days in writing or by email.  If using email, we will only accept email from your Rensselaer email address so we may verify your identity.  No one other than you may accept, decline or reduce an aid award.  Please include your Rensselaer ID number (RIN) on any correspondence to our office.
  • Promptly report to the Office of Financial Aid, using the Outside Scholarship Report,  any additional funds you may receive from sources other than what’s listed on your award letter. Federal regulations require that outside awards be taken into consideration when determining your overall aid eligibility. Please see the section “Revision of Aid Awards” for more information. Rensselaer reserves the right to adjust your aid package.  
  • Respond promptly to any future request for additional information from the Office of Financial Aid.
  • If your aid package includes an offer of a Federal Direct Loan, please be aware that we process loans via electronic means. Please do not submit an application to us.  
    • Your loan eligibility will be forwarded electronically to the Department of Education. If you have borrowed under the program previously while attending Rensselaer as a graduate student, you are not required to complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN).
    • If you will be a new borrower to the Direct Loan Program, you will need to complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and complete an Entrance Counseling session. You may complete your MPN and/or Entrance Counseling session on-line at
    • If you wish to reduce or decline the amount of a Federal Direct Loan outlined on your award notification, you must email us from your RPI email account or send us a written letter.  Be sure to include your RIN when corresponding to our office.
  • Changing your enrollment may result in the reduction or elimination of your awards.
  • You must maintain satisfactory academic progress, as defined in Rensselaer’s Academic Catalog. Students receiving federal or state need-based financial aid are expected to make Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) toward achieving their degrees. If you do not, you may lose your ability to receive these programs. Read more on SAP.
  • Apply for financial aid every year in order to receive full consideration for federal aid sources by completing the FAFSA annually.   
Your Awards

Unless otherwise noted, we are assuming you are enrolled on a full-time basis with an off-campus room and board allowance. Your actual expenses may differ depending on your living arrangements. Billing statements are provided electronically by the Bursar Office in August for the fall semester and in December for the spring semester.

    This consists of six basic annual expenses as indicated on your award letter. Average Direct Loan fee, personal or other miscellaneous expenses are NOT charges that are billed to you by Rensselaer. These expenses are your responsibility. Books and supplies may be charged to your student account if purchased through the Rensselaer Book Store.  Financial aid in excess of your billable Rensselaer charges may be used to defray these costs.  
    • The Average Direct Loan fee is based upon all students who applied for a similar loan program in the previous academic year. Your fee may be less or more depending on how much you borrow, and is deducted by the Department of Education from your gross loan amount. For example, a graduate student borrowing the maximum of $20,500 would have approximately $211 deducted from the gross amount borrowed. Federal regulations require us to include it as part of your Cost of Attendance even though it is not a college fee. This fee does not apply to you if you do not borrow from this program. To determine the amount of your fee, multiply the amount of your Direct Loan eligibility by 1.057%. 
    This represents the difference between our cost of attendance and your financial aid awards. To determine this amount, take your cost of attendance minus your total financial aid.  It may not represent the "Expected Family Contribution" (EFC) as determined by the Department of Education, nor does it reflect what you have to pay Rensselaer. If you wish to have an approximate idea of how much you may owe Rensselaer, please use this formula: Tuition/Fees + Room/Board - financial aid (excluding Federal Work Study)

    Many students utilize other resources to meet the remaining cost after all financial aid has been considered, such as alternative educational loans, Federal Graduate PLUS loans, and tuition payment plans.

Revision of Aid Awards

The Office of Financial Aid reserves the right to revise your aid awards according to federal, state, and institutional policies and regulations. Your awards may be revised when there are changes in your originally reported information and/or when you receive additional outside aid awards (i.e. outside scholarships, tuition remission). You may notify us of outside awards by sending a completed Outside Scholarship Report Form.  Scholarships that we receive that do not include information about renewability will be assumed to be renewable until we are notified otherwise. Generally, outside aid will be treated as follows:  

  • First, it will be used toward any unmet need in your package. Unmet need is the difference between your Estimated Family Cost to Attend Rensselaer and your Federal EFC.
  • If the outside aid exceeds your unmet need, the outside aid will replace need-based federal sources (i.e. Perkins Loan, and/or Direct Loan programs).
  • Finally, if there’s still outside aid left, the remaining outside aid will replace Federal non-need-based sources of aid (i.e. Direct Unsubsidized Loan), not to exceed the Cost of Attendance.
Disbursement of Aid

With the exception of work programs and outside scholarships, the earliest your aid may be disbursed to your student account will be on the first day of class for which the funds are intended. 


Direct PLUS Loan for Graduate Students

The Office of Financial Aid certifies Graduate PLUS through the Federal Direct Loan Program. Federal funds are borrowed directly from the Department of Education. The Graduate PLUS Loan is available to a graduate student who is matriculated in a degree program and enrolled in at least six (6) credits and does not have adverse credit history.  Consider borrowing under the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan program before borrowing under the Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loan program The student must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to participate in this program. Please visit to complete the FAFSA.  

Application Procedures

Once logged into (using your FSA ID and password), select the “Apply for a Direct PLUS Loan” on the home page. You are encouraged to review needed items for this process by selecting the “Learn More” link under the Direct PLUS Application for Graduate / Professional Students (type). 

Under the heading Direct PLUS Loan Application for Graduate/Professional Students click on the blue START button to initiate the application process. 

NOTE:  If you HAVE borrowed under the Graduate PLUS loan program while attending RPI there is nothing more you need to do.  If you HAVE NOT borrowed under the program previously while attending RPI, then you will need to complete a Graduate PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note (see below) and participate in entrance loan counseling session. 

Sign your Master Promissory Note (MPN)

If approved for a Graduate PLUS you must complete a Graduate PLUS Master Promissory Note (MPN). You may complete your MPN by visiting  You will need your FSA ID and user password to complete the MPN online. The Master Promissory Note 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). The MPN is valid for up to 10 years.  It must be completed in order for your Direct Loan funds to be disbursed to your student account.  Rensselaer will be informed electronically when you have successfully completed this requirement:

Complete Entrance Counseling

All first time borrowers in the Direct Loan program must complete an Entrance Counseling session.  This can be done via the Internet and takes about 20 minutes.  There is a quiz at the end of each section so that you may demonstrate that you understand the information being provided.  You can print a copy of the verification page for your records as proof that you completed the session.  Rensselaer will be informed electronically when you have successfully completed this requirement.

  1. Go to and log in using your FSA User ID and password.
  2. Click on “Complete Loan Counseling (Entrance, Financial Awareness, Exit”
  3. Click START button next to Entrance Counseling type to begin process.
If the Graduate PLUS application is denied, the borrower has three options:
  1.  Request a review of the credit check due to inaccurate information on your credit report. Contact Direct Loan Applicant Services at 1-800-557-7394.
  2. Provide an endorser. The endorser must pass a credit check and sign a promissory note. Contact Direct Loan Applicant Services at 1-800-557-7394.
  3. Not pursue the Graduate PLUS loan. No further action.