Consumer information and policies | University of Oxford
Radcliffe Camera
The Radcliffe Camera
(Image Credit: Rebecca Scott / Graduate Photography Competition)

Consumer information and policies

The US government requires institutions which offer federal student loans to disclose the following consumer information. 

Data security and privacy of student records

Your rights under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 2018 are outlined on the University's Data protection pages. For information on how to make a request for access to personal data under the GDPR, please email the Data Protection team. If you wish to learn more about data security compliance at the University of Oxford, please access the University’s privacy policies.

The US loans team will request data from you in order to process your loan application. In certain circumstances, the US loans team is required to request specific information from you in order to comply with US federal regulations. We will hold any sensitive data that you submit to us in compliance with the GDPR and US federal regulations.

Should you have a complaint about how the US loans team have handled your data you have the right to file a complaint with the US Department of Education, although it would be preferable for you to contact the team in the first instance so they can discuss the problem with you and try to resolve it.

Student financial aid information

For information about all need-based and non need-based federal, local, private and institutional student financial assistance available to students at the University, please see our Fees and funding pages.

For the following information about US federal student loans, please see our US loans page:

  • terms and conditions of the Title IV HEA (Higher Education Act) loans.
  • criteria for selecting recipients and determining the award amount.
  • eligibility requirements and procedures for applying for aid.
  • methods and frequency of disbursements of aid.
  • rights and responsibilities of students receiving Title IV HEA student financial aid, including the criteria for continued student eligibility and standards for satisfactory academic progress.
  • terms of loans received as part of the financial aid package, a sample loan repayment schedule and the necessity for repaying loans.
  • procedures and forms by which students apply for assistance.
  • a statement that enrolment in a program of study abroad approved for credit by the home school may be considered enrolment in the home school for the purposes of applying for federal student financial aid; and
  • the exit counselling information the University collects and provides to servicers.

Facilities and services available to students with disabilities

Information about the facilities and services available to students with disabilities is available from the Disability Advisory Service.

Price of attendance

For information about the price of attendance, including tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation costs and any other additional expenses, please see our Fee information and Living costs pages. Occasionally, there may be additional costs relating to your course; if so, these will be outlined by your department.

Refund policy, requirements for withdrawal and return of Title IV financial aid

For information about the University's refund policy, please see our Fee payments and refunds pages. Requirements for the return of Title IV funds are published in the University's Return to Title IV (R2T4) Policy (More information on this is on our Return to Title IV (R2T4) Policy tab).

Procedures for withdrawal are outlined in the R2T4 Policy and are also available from your department's Graduate Studies Office (for graduates) or from your college (for undergraduates).

Academic programme information (educational programme, instructional facilities and faculty)

For information about current degree programmes and other educational and training programmes available at the University, please see the following pages:

For information about instructional, laboratory, and other facilities that relate to your academic programme, and for faculty and other instructional personnel, please see the relevant department pages from our Departments A-Z. Should a plan exist to improve your academic programme, this would be communicated to you by the relevant department.

Student loan information published by the US Department of Education

The University will provide information published by the US Department of Education to students at any time that information regarding loan availability is requested, including the rights and responsibilities of students and schools under Title IV HEA (Higher Education Act) loan programs.

National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS)

If you take out a federal loan at Oxford, we will submit the details of your loan to NSLDS and this data will be accessible to guaranty agencies, lenders and schools determined to be authorised users of the data system.

Entrance counselling for student loan borrowers

Prior to the first disbursement, first-time borrowers (other than for Parent PLUS loans) will be provided with comprehensive information on the terms and conditions of the loan and of the borrower’s responsibilities through entrance counselling. At Oxford, entrance counselling is required to be completed via StudentLoans.gov before a loan will be approved.

Exit counselling for student loan borrowers

The University will provide exit counselling to borrowers of loans (other than for Parent PLUS loans) shortly before the student borrower ceases at least half-time study at the school. At Oxford, exit counselling should be completed via StudentLoans.gov. Any student who fails to complete exit counselling via StudentLoans.gov will be emailed a copy of the exit counselling guide, produced by the US Department of Education.

PLUS counselling for student loan borrowers

Prior to the first disbursement, borrowers who are informed by the US Department of Education that they have an adverse credit history (and have obtained an approved endorser or documented to the satisfaction of the US Department of Education that there are extenuating circumstances related to the adverse credit history) will be required to undertake PLUS counselling.  At Oxford, PLUS counselling is required to be completed via StudentLoans.gov before a loan will be approved.  

Private education loan disclosures

It is stated clearly on the US loans and Private loans pages that most students at Oxford are eligible for federal loans and that these are normally much cheaper than private loans.

Code of conduct for education loans

The University's code of conduct for US education loans is as follows:

In order to prohibit a conflict of interest with the responsibilities of an agent with respect to private education loans, all agents at the University with responsibility for US loans are prohibited from:

  • revenue-sharing arrangements with any lender; 
  • receiving gifts from a lender, a guarantor, or a loan servicer;
  • contracting arrangements providing financial benefit from any lender or affiliate of a lender; 
  • directing borrowers to particular lenders* or refusing or delaying loan certifications; 
  • offers of funds for private loans; 
  • call centre or financial aid office staffing assistance; and
  • advisory board compensation.

All agents with responsibility for US loans are reminded at least annually of the code.

* If you are applying for a private US student loan, the University will work with whichever private lender you decide to use, if they are willing to work with us. Please note that we are only aware of one lender currently offering such loans, which is Sallie Mae. Sallie Mae is not a preferred lender and this does not represent a preferred lender arrangement.

US tax forms

US students who may be eligible to submit a US tax form (1098-T) to the IRS will be contacted in Michaelmas term with further details of the University's process. If you have any questions please email the US loans team.

Satisfactory academic progress (SAP) policy

To be eligible for US federal student loans, a student must make satisfactory academic progress (SAP). This policy applies to all students taking federal loans (also known as ‘financial aid’ and ‘Title IV aid’) at Oxford, specifically Direct Subsidized, Unsubsidized, Grad PLUS and Parent PLUS loans. It applies to all federal loan recipients, including graduates, undergraduates, part-time and full-time students. Students who are taking out a loan for the first time part way through their course, will also need to demonstrate that they have met the SAP requirements throughout their degree so far.

Measuring SAP

SAP is assessed as follows:

  • Qualitative standard (grades): Students must achieve minimum standards as required by the academic department and supervisor/tutor, and academic standing consistent with graduation requirements and on a cumulative basis. These should be equivalent of at least a Lower Second Class degree for undergraduate courses, at least a pass for postgraduate taught courses and at least at the level to allow a postgraduate research student to progress to the next research degree stage.
  • Quantitative standard (pace): Students must progress through their course at a pace which ensures that they will graduate within the maximum timeframe. The maximum timeframe for completion is 150% of the published length of the course as measured in credit hours. The University take each year of full-time undergraduate study to equal 120 UK credits and 180 UK credits for postgraduate study according to the Higher Education Credit Framework for England.
Degree and course lengthCredits for completionMaximum timeframePace
BA/BSc (3 years)360540 credits (4.5 years)67%
BA/BSc (4 years)480720 credits (6 years)67%
MSt (9 months)135202.5 credits (13.5 months)67%
MSt (12 months)180270 credits (1.5 years)67%
DPhil (3 years)540810 (4.5 years)67%
DPhil (4 years)7201080 (6 years)67%

Students must also be studying at least half-time in order to be eligible for federal loans.

Both the qualitative and quantitative SAP standards are reviewed at each evaluation point. For students on courses lasting one year or less, SAP is evaluated towards the end of each payment period, ie November - December; February - March; and May - July. For students on programmes lasting more than one year, SAP is evaluated annually towards the end of the summer term ie May - July.

Generally, all periods of a student’s enrolment count when assessing progress, even periods when the student did not receive loan funds. Some examples of changes to enrolment and how these impact on the measurement of SAP are outlined below:

Change to enrolmentCounts towards SAP measurement?

Period of approved suspension/suspension of status, including
maternity/paternity/adoption leave

No, and therefore the period while suspended would not be counted towards the quantitative standard (pace). 

Change of courseIf elements of the old course contribute towards the new course, then credit hours will be included in the quantitative standard (pace). When all elements of the new course are unrelated to the old course, then credit hours will not be included in the quantitative standard (pace).  
Withdrawal or non-completion of a course and subsequent re-enrolmentIf a student withdraws in the middle of the academic year, any credit hours completed would be counted in the quantitative standard (pace).
Repetition or reassessment due to academic failureYes, any credit hours already completed would be counted in the quantitative standard (pace). 
‘Incorporation’ to Oxford (transfer credits)  Yes, any credit hours already completed before transferring would be counted in the quantitative standard (pace).

Failure to meet SAP and regaining eligibility

A student who fails to meet SAP standards will be notified that they are ineligible for further disbursements of US federal loans. Reinstatement of eligibility for these loans is not automatic. A student can regain eligibility only by submitting a successful appeal to be placed on probation or by taking action that brings them into compliance with the SAP standards. Students are not eligible to receive retrospective disbursements for a term where they are not making SAP.

Appeals

A student who fails to meet SAP standards may appeal on the basis of injury, illness, death of a relative, or other special circumstances. The appeal must explain why the student failed to make SAP and what has changed in their situation that will allow them to make SAP at the next evaluation point. Evidence should be attached where possible (eg medical notes or death certificates). Appeals must be submitted in writing, either by email to: us.loans@admin.ox.ac.uk or by post to: US Loans Team, Student Fees and Funding, 4 Worcester Street, Oxford OX1 2BX, UK.

Receipt of the appeal will be acknowledged within seven working days. An Appeal Panel will be convened, consisting of at least two members of staff from the Graduate Admissions and Funding team, and the Panel will aim to hold a review within 30 days of the date of the acknowledgement. The student will be notified of the outcome within seven working days of the review. The Appeal Panel may require extra evidence, documentation or contributions from the student’s supervisor, tutor or department, in which case these timescales may be extended. The decision of the Appeal Panel is final.

If the Appeal Panel determines that the student will not be able to meet the SAP standards, then the student will be ineligible for further disbursements of US student loans until they are able to take action that brings them into compliance with the SAP standards.

If the Appeal Panel determines that the student should be able to meet the SAP standards by the end of the subsequent payment period, the student will be placed on probation. The student’s progress will be reviewed at the end of the payment period, as probation status is for one payment period only. If the student is not meeting the SAP standards at this point, then they will not be eligible for further disbursements of US student loans until they are able to take action that brings them into compliance with the SAP standards.

If the Appeal Panel determines that the student will require more than one payment period in order to meet the SAP standards, the student will be placed on probation and an academic plan will be drawn up, in collaboration with the student’s supervisor, tutor and/or department. The student’s progress will be reviewed at the end of the payment period to determine if the student is meeting the requirements of the academic plan. If the student is meeting the requirements of the academic plan, the student is eligible to receive US student loans as long as they continue to meet those requirements. If a student needs to change their academic plan, then they must submit another appeal, explaining what has happened to make the change necessary and how they will be able to make academic progress. If the student fails to meet the requirements of their academic plan or their appeal to change their academic plan is unsuccessful, then they will not be eligible for further disbursements of US student loans until they are able to take action that brings them into compliance with the SAP standards.

Definitions

Appeal: a process by which a student who is not meeting SAP standards petitions the University for reconsideration of their eligibility for US student loans.
Probation: A status the University assigns to a student who is failing to make SAP and who successfully appeals. Eligibility for US student loans may be reinstated for a limited period.

US Federal Loans: Return to Title IV (R2T4) Policy 

US federal law specifies that, should a student withdraw from their programme of study, the University of Oxford must complete a Return to Title IV (R2T4) calculation and arrange for any ‘unearned’ loan funds to be returned to the US Department of Education. For R2T4 purposes, a Leave of Absence (LOA) for longer than 180 days or an ‘unapproved LOA’ is also deemed to be a withdrawal (see further detail and definitions below). When considering US Federal loans the University is classed as an attendance taking institution.

An LOA is a temporary interruption in a student's programme of study and is equivalent to a suspension/suspension of status at the University of Oxford.

This policy covers the following topics:

  • University of Oxford’s procedure for withdrawing or taking leave of absence, including the offices designated to receive official notifications of intent to withdraw;
  • University of Oxford’s fee refund policy;
  • Requirements regarding the treatment of Title IV funds when a student withdraws or takes leave of absence.

The policy should enable students to:

  • Determine the procedures for withdrawing and the financial consequences of doing so;
  • Estimate how much Federal Student Aid (FSA) he or she will retain, and how much he or she may have to return, upon withdrawing;
  • Understand the difference and interaction between the University’s refund policy and the federal Return requirements;
  • Understand how the University might adjust a student’s charges to take into account any Return of FSA funds the University might be required to make;
  • Understand that if he or she withdraws, University charges that were previously paid by FSA funds might become a debit that the student will be responsible for paying;
  • Understand the effects that a failure to return from LOA may have on loan repayment terms, including the expiration of the grace period.

This policy will also be used when calculating the return of funds to the US Department of Education for reasons other than withdrawal/leave of absence.  The policy will be applied when a student completes or graduates earlier than anticipated; when a student becomes ineligible for federal aid at the University of Oxford following changes to their enrolment or other factors; or for any other reasons that federal aid funds are returned to the US Department of Education. 

University of Oxford Procedure: Withdrawal or Leave of Absence (LOA)/Suspension

  • Graduate students: Students should complete the GSO29 Form for Withdrawal or the GS017 Form for Suspension of Status/Leave of Absence. The forms are available from our Graduate forms page. The forms should be submitted to the Graduate Studies Assistant in your Department. The forms require the signature and comments of your Supervisor and College Tutor for Graduates. Once your withdrawal or leave has been processed or approved, you will receive a letter of confirmation from the Graduate Studies Office. Please ensure you tick the box that states you are a US Loan student on the GSO forms.
  • Undergraduate students: Students should follow the withdrawal or suspension process within their college. Normally this will involve meeting the Senior Tutor and/or Academic Registrar, and potentially also the Dean and/or Welfare Team. A formal letter will be sent once the request has been approved by the Senior Tutor, setting out any terms and conditions of the suspension or confirming the withdrawal.

Students funding their studies through US federal student loans are required to inform the US Loans Team of their withdrawal at the same time as notifying their college/the Graduate Studies Assistant.

University of Oxford Policy: Refunds of Fees

The amount of Title IV funds due for return as a result of a withdrawal is calculated independently of the tuition fee liability charged by the University.

For reference, the University Refund Policy is as follows, and is not to be confused with R2T4 calculations and refunds. Should a student withdraw from their programme of study, they will only be entitled to a refund of fees paid if they have not yet reached Monday of 4th week of the term in progress. Further information on the University’s refund policy is available by emailing the Fees Clerk or visiting the Payments and refunds page.

Timeframes and treatment of Title IV funds when a student withdraws (including unapproved LOA and LOA for more than 180 days)

When a student withdraws, the US Loans Team will calculate the amount of Title IV program assistance that has been earned up to that point, using a Return of Title IV (R2T4) calculation as provided by the US Department of Education. Individual colleges or the Central Finance department (as applicable) are responsible for the transfer of R2T4 funds to the US Department of Education.

The University will return unearned funds for which it is responsible as soon as possible but no later than 45 days from the date of determination (the date that the institution determined the student ceased attendance) of a student’s withdrawal. For a student who didn’t start at Oxford or was here for a few days only and didn’t receive loan funds before withdrawing, the funds will be returned within 30 days. Within the same 30 days, the University will also inform NSLDS (National Student Loan Data System) of the withdrawal, which will trigger all loans going into repayment.

Loan funds must be returned in the following order:

  1. Federal Direct Unsubsidized loans
  2. Federal Direct Subsidized loans (awarded to undergraduates only)
  3. Federal PLUS and Grad PLUS loans

For the purposes of the R2T4, the withdrawal date is the last date of academic attendance as determined by the university from its attendance records. Academically related activities include but are not limited to

  • physically attending a class where there is an opportunity for direct interaction between the instructor and students;
  • submitting an academic assignment;
  • taking an exam, completing an interactive tutorial, or participating in computer-assisted instruction;
  • attending a study group that is assigned by the school;
  • participating in an online discussion about academic matters; and
  • Initiating contact with a faculty member to ask a question about the academic subject studied in the course.

The amount of loan funds earned is calculated as follows:

Number of study days completed divided by Total number of study days in payment period

Standard payment periods at the University of Oxford for the year 2020-21 are: 

 Loan PeriodTotal no. of daysTerm dates Sun wk 0- Sat wk 9Non-study days*Study daysPost-60% date for ref**
Loan period 1: 01 October 2020 – 31 December 20209204 October 2020 - 12 December 202013-31 Dec = 19 days73 13 November 2020
Loan period 2: 01 January 2021 – 11 April 202110110 January 2021 – 20 March 2021

1-9 Jan = 9 days
21 Mar-11 Apr = 22 days

70 20 February 2021
Loan period 3 12 April 2021 – 30 June 2021 

(9 month courses)

8018 April 2021 – 26 June 202112 -17 Apr = 6 days74 31 May 2021
  12 April 2021 – 31 July 2021 

(10 month courses)

11118 April 2021 – 31 July 202112 -17 Apr = 6 days105 19 June 2021
Loan period 4: 01 July 2021 – 31 August 2021

(11 month courses)

6201 July 2021– 31 August 2021 62 06 August  2021
  

01 July 2021 – 30 September 2021 (12 month courses)

9201 July 2021 – 30 September 2021 92 24 August 2021

*Breaks of 5 or more consecutive days (i.e. outside of the term period week 0 through to week 9) are to be counted as non-study days. Any period under 5 consecutive days, and weekends in the study period, are study days.

** Students withdrawing on or after this date have completed 60% of the payment period and therefore no funds need to be returned to the US Department of Education. The day of withdrawal is counted as a completed day.


Once the student has completed more than 60% of the payment period, all the assistance that the student was scheduled to receive for that period is considered to have been earned. As an example, if the student completes 30% of the payment period, he or she has earned 30% of the assistance they were originally scheduled to receive within that loan period. If the student has completed 60% of the payment period, he or she has earned 100% of the assistance they were scheduled to receive.

If the student received more assistance than was earned, the excess funds must be returned to the US Department of Education by the University and/or the student. The requirements for Title IV program funds when students withdraw are separate from the University’s refund policy. Therefore, the student may still owe funds to the University to cover unpaid institutional charges. The University may attempt to collect from the student any Title IV program funds that the University is required to return.

Students who do not attend even initial lectures or seminars are ineligible to receive any Title IV funds and all loan proceeds will be returned to the US Department of Education. The student will be liable for any fees or outstanding balances owed to the college or University.

Students who fail all, or part of their course should seek advice from their tutor/supervisor as soon as possible. In general, the regulations permit undergraduate students failing the First Public Examination at the first attempt to re-enter some form of the examination, normally within a year. The regulations permit students failing the Second Public Examination (‘Finals’) to re-enter but, unless they do so within the maximum number of terms specified for the subject concerned, they will not normally be eligible to obtain Honours. Except for a small number of subjects detailed in the regulations, if you have been classified in the Second Public Examination, you may not re-take your Finals in order to try to improve your results. Graduate students on taught courses are normally allowed to make a second attempt at a failed examination, in accordance with the regulations for the particular qualification. The detailed provisions for any resit arrangements for each qualification are explained in the University’s Examination Regulations. Once exact arrangements are known the US loans team can advise students on the impact this will have on their loans depending on whether they are withdrawing/suspending their status. The University will require documentation to show when a student has failed, for example the score from an examination.

If a student fails their course through non-attendance for example not showing up at an examination or attending lectures, the University will follow the unofficial withdrawal process. The last verifiable date of attendance will be used for R2T4 calculation.

Unofficial withdrawals

An unofficial withdrawal occurs when a student ceases to attend the University, but the University has not received notice of this from the student. College administrators are required to advise the US Loans Team of any unofficial withdrawals of federal loan recipients.

For R2T4 purposes, the US Loans Team will use as the date of withdrawal either:

  • the last date of attendance as determined by the attendance records which are monitored for all students in receipt of a Tier 4 visa (currently monitored at the end of every term);
  • where a student has attended past the last date of attendance recorded for the purpose of Tier 4 visa monitoring, the University will use the last verifiable date of attendance at an academically-related activity.

The unofficial withdrawal will then follow the normal procedure for returning Title IV loan funds.

Post-withdrawal Disbursements

If the value disbursed to the University or student before withdrawal is less than the earned value, we would contact the student and arrange for a post-withdrawal disbursement to be made by bank transfer in pounds sterling to the student. The following regulations would apply;

  • University will provide written notification within 30 days of date of determination of withdrawal
  • Student (or parent) confirmation is required within 14 days of written notification
  • Funds disbursed directly to student - as soon as possible, but no later than 45 calendar days after date of determination
  • Disbursed as credit to account – within 180 days after date of determination

Post-Withdrawal Disbursements are determined through the R2T4 process and will be only relevant to students where there have been multiple disbursements within a payment period.

Treatment of Title IV funds when a student takes approved LOA for less than 180 day

In order to qualify as an approved LOA for the purposes of federal aid (negating the need for the University to perform a Return calculation), the LOA must meet the conditions outlined below:

  • the LOA must be approved by the University, in accordance with the Suspension procedures outlined above;
  •  the situation described as the reason for the LOA (which will normally be found on the GS017 form for graduates or in the college letter for undergraduates) must be one that leads to a reasonable expectation that the student will return from the LOA within the allowed time frame;
  • the LOA, together with any additional leaves of absence, must not exceed a total of 180 days in any 12-month period, including days in which school is not in session;
  • the student must resume training at the same point in the academic programme that he or she began the LOA;
  • the LOA must be requested in advance, unless unforeseen circumstances prevent the student from doing so (for example, injury or illness);
  • the University must inform the student of the possible consequences a withdrawal may have on the student’s loan repayment terms, including exhaustion of the student’s grace period.

A student granted an LOA that meets the criteria stated above is not considered to have withdrawn, and no Return calculation is required.

During the LOA, the University will not charge the student any additional institutional charges, the student's financial need will not increase, and therefore, the student will not be eligible for any disbursements of Federal Student Aid. A student who is granted an approved LOA maintains in-school status for Title IV loan repayment purposes.

The start date of the LOA for federal loans purposes is the date that the LOA comes into effect. Where an LOA is requested retrospectively, the date of determination (the date that the institution determined the student ceased attendance) of a student’s withdrawal may be used.

If a student does not return from an approved LOA, or the LOA does not qualify as an approved LOA, the student will be deemed to have withdrawn for the purposes of federal aid and R2T4 will be required. One possible consequence of not returning from an LOA is that a student’s grace period for Title IV program loan repayments might be exhausted. The date of withdrawal will be treated as the date that the approved Leave of Absence began.

Was this page useful?*