Eligibility | University of Oxford
View from the University's Rothermere American Institute
(Image Credit: Zoe Wilkinson / Graduate Photography Competition)


You must meet the criteria set by the US Department of Education in order to be eligible for US federal loans. The eligibility criteria on this page do not apply for Private loans.

The federal loan eligibility criteria are subject to change at the US Department of Education's discretion and are beyond the University's control.  You should check the latest eligibility criteria on the Federal Student Aid website.

In addition to the criteria specified on the Federal Student Aid website, you must also:

  • be enrolled at least at a half-time rate at Oxford for the duration of your course;
  • be studying an eligible, degree-bearing course (PGCert and PGDip courses are classed as ineligible); 
  • make satisfactory academic progress during your course; and
  • with limited exceptions, undertake your study or research within the UK.
More information about these criteria is provided below.


You must remain enrolled at least at a half-time rate at Oxford. We will only be able to request your loan funds from the US if you are enrolled a minimum of seven calendar days before each disbursement date. More information on enrolment is available on the Guide to registration page.

If you suspend, withdraw or drop below half-time enrolment then you must email the US loans team immediately. You should also read our Suspend or withdraw page.

Ineligible courses

There are restrictions on the University's ability to offer federal loan funds to students on certain courses. Ineligible courses include those which are less than half-time, not degree-bearing, include any online element, or involve distance learning. PGCert and PGDip courses are classed as ineligible. This change to US law was made by the Higher Education Reconciliation Act (HERA) that came into force on 1 July 2006. The US loans team will advise if your course is ineligible when you submit your loan application. Students on ineligible courses may be eligible for a Private loan.

Satisfactory academic progress (SAP)

The University's SAP policy applies to all students taking federal loans at Oxford, specifically Direct Subsidised, Direct Unsubsidised, Grad PLUS and Parent PLUS loans. It applies to all federal loan recipients, including graduates, undergraduates, part-time and full-time students. SAP is assessed as follows:

  • Qualitative standard (grades): Students must achieve minimum standards as required by the academic department and supervisor/tutor, equivalent to a C grade, and academic standing consistent with graduation requirements.
  • 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 standard, published timeframe for a course, eg 13.5 months for a 9-month MSt, 18 months for a 12-month MSc, 4.5 years for a 3-year DPhil/BA/BSc, and 6 years for a 4-year DPhil/BA/BSc. 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 three times per year towards the end of each payment period, ie November–December, February–March, and May–July. For students on courses lasting more than one year, SAP is evaluated annually towards the end of the summer term, ie May–July.

Full details of the SAP process and the procedures to be followed if a student fails to meet SAP requirements are outlined in the SAP policy (see Related documents on this page).

Undertaking study or research outside of the UK

It is not normally possible for students in receipt of US loans to undertake any part of their study or research in the US. If you will be conducting doctoral-level research that can only be undertaken in the US, please email the US loans team before applying for your loan so that we can assess your eligibility.

If you are taking part in a study abroad programme, please email the US loans team immediately, as this may affect your eligibility for US federal loans. 

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