Borrowing for Your CalArts Education

Loans are money you borrow that must be repaid with interest. The cost of attendance may be offset by other forms of financial assistance, such as scholarships and work study. Loans can help with the rest. Eligibility for federal loans require a FAFSA to be completed each year. In addition to these direct federal loans to students, there are also private loans available for further financing. Please note that there is a 5-10 business day processing timeframe for loan certification and origination after loan steps are completed. It is recommended to complete any and all outstanding application steps for all loans at least 30 days prior to the start of an academic term you need loan funds for.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to graduate students regardless of financial need. The student is responsible for paying the interest on the Unsubsidized Loan during all periods. If a student chooses not to pay the interest while enrolled in school and during grace and/or deferment periods, the interest will accrue and be capitalized (added to the principal loan amount).

2024-2025 Federal Direct Loan Interest Rates

The 2024-25 interest rates for Federal Direct Loans disbursed between July 1, 2024, and June 30, 2025, are as follows:

  • Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans for undergraduate students: 6.53 percent fixed for the life of the loan.
  • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan for graduate students: 8.08 percent fixed for the life of the loan.
Origination Fee

All Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans are subject federal origination fee which is subtracted from the loan at the time of disbursement. The origination fee for Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans from July 1, 2021 till June 30, 2025 is: 1.057%. 

Annual and Aggregate Loan limits

There are annual and aggregate loan limits for students based upon their degree and class level as detailed at the Department of Education Website. For an estimate of your monthly loan payments after you graduate, take a look at the Department of Education’s loan simulator.

Learn more about Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans

Please click here to learn more about Federal Subsidized Loans.

Master Promissory Note & Entrance Counseling

In addition to completing the FAFSA each year, first-time Direct Subsidized & Unsubsidized loan borrowers at CalArts must complete the two steps below once before the first year they borrow loans: 

  1. Complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) online:
    Federal Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Master Promissory Note (MPN) 
  2. Complete Direct Loan Entrance Counseling:
    Complete Federal Direct Loan Entrance Counseling - First time borrowers must complete Direct Loan Entrance Counseling before funds can be disbursed.

(Graduate and Professional Level students Only)

Graduate students are eligible to apply for the Graduate PLUS Loan to assist with their educational needs. Eligibility for this loan will be based on a credit check performed by the Department of Education upon receipt of the Graduate PLUS Loan application.

To meet the federally defined credit worthiness requirements, an applicant cannot be 90 days or more delinquent on the repayment of any debt, the subject of a default determination, bankruptcy discharge, foreclosure, repossession, tax lien, wage garnishment or write off of a Title IV debt during the last five years.

If a student receives a denied credit decision on their PLUS Loan application, there are a few of options. Borrowers can add a credit-worthy endorser or appeal the credit decision. For more details on options and steps, please see this link

To apply for the Graduate PLUS Loan, please follow the following steps:

  1. Visit The application opens on/after April 1st for each upcoming academic year. Students must use their own FSA ID to log in to the loan application.
  2. Graduate borrowers must complete a PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN). Complete this step online at
  3. Graduate Plus Loans borrowers are also required to complete Graduate Plus Entrance Counseling found at (select Log in to Start in the "I am a Graduate or Professional Student" section). All loans must be processed and disbursed prior to the end of each academic semester.

If you receive a denied credit decision, you have a couple of options. You may choose to add a credit-worthy endorser or appeal the credit decision. For more information on these options and steps please see this link

  1. To add an endorser follow these steps:
    • Find a credit worthy endorser and supply them with the loan reference number
    • The endorser must request an FSA ID with the Department of Education.  They will then use that FSA ID to sign into
    • Have the endorser complete an endorser addendum
    • Complete a new MPN including your endorser
  2. Appeal your credit decision with the Department Of Education.
  3. Applicants who have adverse credit decisions and are subsequently approved through the process of appeals or receive approved endorsed Plus Loans decisions are now required to complete Plus Counseling which will need to be completed prior to loan origination and disbursement. To complete Plus Counseling please log into and select the ‘Complete Plus Counseling’ option on the left hand side of the screen. Please note this counseling must be completed in one sitting as there is no ‘save progress’ function. For questions about whether you need to complete this counseling or not please contact the Student Loan Support Center at 800-433-3243.

Once the Financial Aid Office receives the application from the Department of Education, we will update the financial aid award to reflect the approved/requested Graduate PLUS Loan amount.

In the event that an endorser (co-signer) is required for loan approval, you will be required to complete mandatory PLUS Loan Credit Counseling.

*Important Note for all PLUS Loan Borrowers- There is a question on the PLUS Loan application that asks whether you wish to defer loan payments while you/your student is enrolled in school. If you wish to defer loan payments, you MUST answer this question accordingly.

Annual Loan Amount

When completing the loan application, the borrower will have the option to either:

  • "specify a loan amount" OR
  • "borrow the maximum Direct PLUS Loan amount for which I am eligible, as determined by the school"

If the student selects to borrow the maximum, please be advised the Office of Financial Aid will process the loan for to meet the total cost of attendance, this amount can be above and beyond the charges directly owed to the school, based on the student’s eligibility. If an adjustment to the amount is needed for any reason, the borrower may contact the Office of Financial Aid to request a change to the amount.

2024-2025 Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan Interest Rate

The 2024-25 interest rate for Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans disbursed between July 1, 2024, and June 30, 2025, is 9.08 percent fixed.

Origination Fee

All Direct Plus Loans are subject federal origination fee which is subtracted from the loan at the time of disbursement. The origination fee for Federal Plus Loans from July 1, 2022 till June 30, 2024 is: 4.228%.

California Institute of the Arts recommends that all other methods of education financing be exhausted, including federal loans, grants, and scholarships, before taking on private student loans.

Private Education loans were designed to bridge the gap between college costs and traditional financial aid resources.  Private Education Loans may be used to help pay for current term expenses and some lenders allow students to apply for loans to cover unpaid balances from a previous term or academic year. Some lenders also allow students to apply for a Private Education Loan even when they are enrolled less than half time.

Private Education Loans cannot exceed the Cost of Attendance minus other financial aid the student is receiving. They are offered and serviced by private loan lenders. Students should exhaust federal loan eligibility before borrowing a Private Education Loan.

Eligibility for a Private Education Loan is based on the student's and co-signer's (if required) credit history. Most Private Education Loan lenders allow students to determine if they would like to have a fixed or variable interest rate. CalArts is an impartial party and cannot recommend any particular lender. However, through careful consideration of many factors, including borrower benefits, CalArts has developed a list of lenders that are currently participating in private student lending. Students are in no way restricted to this list of lenders when borrowing Private Education Loans.  Please visit (or click the button below) to begin your Private Educational Loan research and comparison.

Private Lending for Higher Education

The Financial Aid Office will certify Private Loan eligibility once we receive notification of an approved private loan application from your lender. Please note that there is a 5-10 business day processing timeframe before certification can take place. It is recommended to complete any and all outstanding application steps for all loans at least 30 days prior to the start of an academic term you need loan funds for.

Self-Certification Form

The Title X of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) requires that a series of three loan disclosures be provided to  Private Education Loan borrowers throughout the application process and that the borrower also complete the Private Education Loan Self-Certification Form prior to the loan being disbursed.

The purpose of the disclosures is to:

  • Present the terms/cost of the loan in a clear and consistent manner.
  • Allow for comparison shopping and re-evaluation of borrowing an alternative loan during the application process.
  • Present lower cost federal options that should be exhausted prior to considering an alternative loan.
  • Reduce overall borrower indebtedness.

The student is required to complete the Private Education Loan Self-Certification Form and return it to the Private Education Loan Lender. The Private Education Loan Lender will not disburse any loan funds until the student’s completed form has been received.

Only complete and return if your Private Education Loan lender requests this form. Complete your Private Education Loan Applicant  Self Certification Form here:

Please note that the borrower has the right to cancel a portion of or the entirety of their loan within 30 days of the disbursement of the funds to the student’s account. After which time it is the borrower’s responsibility to return any unwanted funds to the lender or federal loan servicer. To request a cancellation, please contact the Office of Financial Aid at and state what loan and amount you would like canceled or reduced.