Frequently asked questions about US student loans | University of Oxford
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Frequently asked questions about US student loans


How do I apply for a loan?

Please see the How to apply page for federal loans, or the Private loans page for private loan applications.

When should I apply for my loan and how long will it take to process?

We begin processing loans for the new academic year in May. Applications for federal loans need to be received a minimum of one calendar month before the next disbursement date in order to receive funds on that date. Please see the Receiving your loan page for more information.

The loan approval process can take up to four weeks during peak processing periods (June to October) or longer if there are difficulties with your application.  Therefore, if you need your application to be processed for a particular deadline, please ensure you apply in plenty of time (we recommend applying at least five weeks before a deadline). It is your responsibility to ensure that a complete loan application is submitted in a timely manner.

It is also possible to apply for or adjust your loans during the year. Please see the How to apply and Amend or cancel a loan pages.

I have completed my Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) but I haven't heard anything – what should I do?

As a foreign school, we are not automatically contacted when a student completes their FAFSA and there are several other steps to completing a federal loan application at Oxford.  You must complete all of the steps on our How to apply page in order to notify us that you are applying for a loan.

The information on your website relates to the 2018-19 academic year - how do I obtain information on loans for 2019-20?

Information on applying for the next academic year is added to our website in May each year, shortly before we start processing applications for that period. You should not begin any part of your loan application before this date as this may affect the processing of your loan.

I have not been allocated an Oxford college yet - can I apply for my loan now?

You are unable to submit your loan application until you have been allocated a college, as your application documents and loan records must be linked to your college. We will process your application as soon as possible once you have your college place and submitted your loan application to.

If this causes issues with the financial declaration process and you would like us to contact your college on your behalf to explain the process please let us know.

Can I apply for a loan mid-year?

You can apply for a loan during the academic year, however you must have submitted your application in time for us to process this and disburse the funds before the end of your academic year (e.g. June for undergraduates). There is a US Department of Education deadline for submitting your FAFSA, so you must ensure that this is also met.

Please be aware that the loan approval process can take up to four weeks during peak processing periods or longer if your application is incomplete or complicated, and disbursing funds can take a number of weeks, so you should factor this in when deciding if you are applying for a loan for the current academic year.

I received a US student loan at Oxford last year. Do I need to re-apply or will I automatically receive loans for each year of my course?

You must apply for your US loan each year. Please follow the instructions on our How to apply page (or Private loans page for private loans). You do not need to take a loan for every year of your course if this is not required (for example you may apply for a loan in year 1 and year 3 but not year 2 of your course), however please note that each year’s loan is based on the current academic year and we cannot retrospectively approve funds. Information on the upcoming loan cycle is available on our website from May each year.

I am returning from a period of suspension - how and when should I apply for a US loan?

If you would like to take loans when you return to study, you must submit an application for the year in which you are going to be enrolled. Follow the instructions on our How to apply  page and complete all the required steps in plenty of time before you return to your course. For example if you are due to return in January, it would be advisable to submit your application in November. However, please note that we will not be able to disburse any funds until you are re-enrolled at Oxford.

What is 'Cost of Attendance' (COA)?

Your COA refers to the costs of completing your study at Oxford for one academic year.  This, minus any other financial aid you may be receiving (such as scholarships), is used to calculate the level of funds that you are eligible to borrow. These costs must relate only to you, the student, and can include: course fees; living costs; transport expenses; child care costs; fieldwork costs; and loan origination fees. The COA cannot include costs for partners or children (other than child care/nursery costs). Your COA can include return flights to and from the US (for you only).

What exchange rate is used when calculating my Cost of attendance (COA)?

We are required to set a static exchange rate at the start of the loan application cycle and this must stay the same throughout the whole academic year. The exchange rate is listed on the COA. The actual amount that you will receive in GBP(£) will depend upon the exchange rate available to your college's bank (or currency exchange service provider) on the date that the loan funds are disbursed.

What should I do if I'm awarded a scholarship after my loan has been approved?

You must contact the US loans team immediately if you are awarded a scholarship, grant or other financial award, as this must be factored into your Cost of Attendance (COA).

Am I a dependent or independent undergraduate student?

Please see our Loan types page.

How do I increase / decrease / cancel my loan, mid-year?

Please see our Amend or cancel a loan page.

What is EFC?

EFC stands for 'expected family contribution' and is shown on your Student Aid Report (SAR) which is generated once you complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). We ask undergraduates to add the EFC to their Cost of attendance form.  The EFC is used to determine 'need' and therefore it limits the amount that you can borrow as a Direct Subsidised loan; it is not required for graduate loan applications as this loan type is not available to graduates.  You may still borrow up to the full cost of attendance, even if you have a high EFC, using the Unsubsidised and PLUS loans (see our Loan types page for further information).  Please note that although the EFC stands for 'expected family contribution', essentially it is used to determine financial need, rather than reflecting whether or not your family will be contributing to the cost of your studies.  The EFC cannot be amended by the University if your family are not contributing to your studies.

What is an origination fee?

This is the fee charged by the US Department of Education to cover initial administrative charges related to federal loans. For information on origination fee amounts please refer to the Loan amounts page.

What is entrance counselling and exit counselling?

Entrance and exit counselling are short online courses which will help you understand the responsibilities and obligations associated with a federal loan. It is a US Department of Education requirement that you undertake entrance and exit counselling (accessed at at the start and end of your studies. 

What is PLUS counselling?

PLUS counselling is a short online course which will help you understand the responsibilities and obligations associated with a federal loan.  You are only required to undertake PLUS counselling (accessed at if you are informed by the US Department of Education that you 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 your adverse credit history.  For more information, please visit the Federal Student Aid website.

What is a Guarantor?

This is an organisation approved by the US Department of Education to guarantee Direct Loans; generally a state-operated organisation or non-profit agency. They are required to maintain a reserve to cover defaulted loans, and to conduct default prevention activity. Guarantors also serve as the security or collateral on these loans, so students are not required to obtain co-borrowers. You can check your guarantor details at

How do I obtain proof of funding for visa purposes?

Once your federal loans have been processed, the US loans team at Oxford will send you an award letter which will detail your loan amounts and disbursement dates. The wording and format of the letter has been agreed with UK Visas and Immigration as acceptable proof of funding. The original award letter (with signature) must be available when you apply for a student visa, but not everyone will have to submit the letter with their application.  Please visit GOV.UK to confirm whether you are required to submit your award letter with your student visa application. The University website also gives detailed information about the Tier 4 (General) Student visa process.

I am unable to take a federal or private loan - what other funding is available?

If you are unable or decide not to take a US federal or private loan,you may find it useful to refer to our Fees and Funding pages for information on funding available for graduate and undergraduate students.

Our Other graduate funding sources page provides access to GradFunding’s Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding, which advises on funding from alternative sources and provides an online database of funding opportunities. Our External Scholarships page provides details of a number of external scholarships and search facilities managed by organisations external to Oxford.

Receiving your loan

When will I receive my loan disbursements?

You will normally receive your federal loan disbursement in equal amounts at the beginning of each term.  The terms at Oxford are Michaelmas (October–December), Hilary (January–March) and Trinity (April–June).  Please see our Receiving your loan page for more information.  For information on receipt of private loans, please see the Private loan page.

Why can't I receive my entire federal loan amount at the beginning of my studies?

Following several cases of fraud in the US, the US Department of Education decided to make multiple payments or 'disbursements' common practice for all federal loans. This means that you can only receive loan disbursements in equal amounts at the beginning of each academic term. Please see our Receiving your loan page for more information.

My college has asked me to pay all course fees on arrival at Oxford. How can I do this if I will receive my federal loan in several payments?

Although it is standard practice to invoice students for all fees at the beginning of the academic year, special dispensation will be made for students who are funding their studies using a US federal loan.  Your college will arrange for your fees to be paid in instalments that correlate with your US loan disbursements. Please see our Receiving your loan page for more details.

Once your loan has been approved, we will contact your college to inform them of your loan amounts and disbursement dates. 

Who do I give my bank details to in order to receive my loan?

For most students, it is the college who receives the loan funds and transfers any remaining amount to you once fees and battels have been deducted. You should therefore contact your college bursary to ensure they hold the right bank details for you.

How can I find out how much I will receive from the next disbursement?

Loan funds are disbursed directly to your college. They will deduct any fees or battels due to them and then remit any remaining amount to you. Please contact your college if you require clarification on how much of your US loans is being applied to your fees/battels and how much will remain for your living expenses.


As a research student, am I eligible to borrow US loans once I have submitted my thesis?

We can approve a loan for students who have submitted their thesis, however we will process this for a reduced loan period dependent on your expected completion date so that you do not over borrow in the event that you complete your course earlier than anticipated. This is decided on a case-by-case basis based on information obtained from the student system, the student and their department.

I have transferred to a different course. Am I still eligible to receive my loan?

You must contact the US loans team immediately if you change course, as this may change your eligibility for a loan or the amounts you are able to borrow.

How is my academic performance assessed once I have obtained the funding?

The University of Oxford is required by US federal law to define and enforce standards of satisfactory academic progress (SAP) on students who wish to access US federal funds. The guidelines have been established to encourage students to progress and complete the course successfully for which aid is received. More information on SAP can be found on our Eligibility page.

What happens if I fail to make satisfactory academic progress?

If you fail to make satisfactory academic progress (SAP), you will be placed on financial aid probation for six months. If you have been placed on probation and subsequently meet the requirements in the next term, you will be placed back into good financial aid standing.

Students who have been placed on probation and do not meet the requirements applicable to their degree and level will be suspended and ineligible to receive aid until such time as they achieve the required standard.

Students who transfer to a new course will also transfer with any SAP warning or sanction and will still need to meet the specified criteria for their new course before re-establishing eligibility to receive financial aid.

What happens if I withdraw from a course at the University of Oxford or become ineligible for federal student aid, but have already received US federal loans?

Please see our Suspend or withdraw page. When a US loans student changes enrolment status, we must undertake processes in line with strict US Department of Education regulations; these differ from and are separate to the University’s internal change of enrolment and repayment processes, so you must contact the US loans team immediately.


How can I defer repayment on previous US student loans?

Please see our Defer a previous loan page.

What are my repayment options?

Please see our Repayment page.

Other funding for US students

Does the University of Oxford administer private student loans?

Yes, we are able to administer private student loans.   Please see our Private loans page for more information.

I have submitted my private loan application to my lender but I haven't heard anything from Oxford – what should I do?

As well as applying directly to your lender, you must also complete and submit a Cost of Attendance (COA) form and submit this to Oxford. Please visit our Private loans webpage for further information.

Is the University of Oxford eligible for the US Department of Veterans Affairs Funding? (Also known as GI Bill or Post 9/11 Bill.)

The University of Oxford is able to process applications for US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) funding (also known as the GI Bill or Post 9/11 Bill) and can complete and submit certificates of enrolment to the VA. Please refer to our US Department of Veterans Affairs funding webpage for further information.


How do I contact the US loans team at Oxford?

If you haven't found the information you are looking for, please email the US loans team.

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