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Direct US Loans

Important Information



Please find additional information about Federal Student Aid from website.


Eligibility for Federal Aid

To be eligible to take out US Direct Loans you need to:

  1. Register for an eligible course. Ineligible courses include (but may not be restricted to) those listed below:
    • Undergraduate degree courses that include a "year abroad/Erasmus" option
    • Courses with field trips/fieldwork in US
    • Any courses including Internships or placements
    • Non-degree programs (Graduate Diploma programs such as those in "Theology and Religion" or "Philosophy", or the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)).
    • Find more information from here:
  2. Be a US citizen or an eligible non-citizen
  3. Have a valid US social security number
  4. Be accepted to a programme of full-time or at least 50% part-time study (distance learning courses are not eligible)
  5. If you are an existing student at Durham University, you to have been assessed as having made satisfactory academic progress to continue your studies with us
  6. Be living in the UK during the course of your studies at Durham (student who continue to live in the USA during their studies are not eligible)
  7. Have not borrowed over your federal loan limits or are still in default on repaying previous loans
  8. If you are a male over the age of 18, have signed up for selective service or have been officially exempted from selective service
  9. Not have any outstanding convictions for drug-related offences


There are several steps to loan application. They are all easy and quick but the school will not know if you have completed all the processes for all the loans you intend to borrow unless you tell us.

We want to be sure that you have completed everything you have to do before we commence because if the school starts origination and anything is not completed by you, then our stages for each loan will fail which will cost you time waiting to be told before you have to start again.

When you have finished and collected all the evidence, please send them all in ONE email. For priority treatment, the subject field should start USL and look like this (if you were George Clooney)

To: Subject: USL CLOONEY George

1. Complete FAFSA

In order to access US Student Federal Aid, students must first complete a "Free Application for Federal Student Aid" (FAFSA) and specify Durham University as a nominated school and stating Durham University US Department of Education Federal University / School code:

  • Federal School Code: G08587
  • OPE-ID: 008587-00

Upon receipt of the student's FAFSA information by Durham University, it shall dispatch to the email address provided in the FAFSA application the application instructions for US Student Federal Aid at Durham University.

2. Complete Cost of Attendance (COA)

You should now complete a Cost of Attendance Calculator for the correct academic year. This is available from here:

  • CoADurham2023 
    You will need to use an industry-standard spreadsheet, such as Microsoft Excel.

3. How Much Can You Borrow

The amount you can borrow through Direct Loans is determined by your estimated cost of attendance and the borrowing limits set by the US Department of Education.

Your cost of attendance (COA) is an estimation of how much it will cost you to study at Durham for one academic year. When we calculate this we include the cost of your tuition fees and living expenses and deduct any scholarships you will be receiving and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). A set average exchange rate for the academic year is used to convert your costs into US dollars.

You can borrow up to the cost of your attendance through a combination of Direct Subsidised, Unsubsidised and PLUS Loans. There are limits on the amount you can borrow through Direct Subsidised and Unsubsidised Loans. The values of the Direct Loans you can take out depending on your academic level and are currently as follows:

  Dependent Undergraduate Student (except students whose parents are unable to obtain PLUS Loans) Independent Undergraduate Student (and dependent students whose parents are unable to obtain PLUS Loans) Graduate and Professional Degree Student
First Year $5,500 - No more than $3,500 of this amount may be in subsidised loans $9,500 - No more than $3,500 of this amount may be in subsidised loans $20,500 - Unsubsidised loan
Second Year $6,500 - No more than $4,500 of this amount may be in subsidised loans $10,500 - No more than $4,500 of this amount may be in subsidised loans
Third and Beyond (each year) $7,500 - No more than $5,500 of this amount may be in subsidised loans $12,500 - No more than $5,500 of this amount may be in subsidised loans

There are also aggregate maximum amounts that students can borrow up to via Direct Subsidised and Unsubsidised Loans, which vary according to a student's academic level and status. These are as follows:

  • Dependent Undergraduates - $23,000 subsidised or with unsubsidised $31,000
  • Independent Undergraduates - $23,000 subsidised or with unsubsidised $57,500; and
  • Graduate Students - $138,500 (includes undergraduate borrowing) subsidised and unsubsidised

4. Sign Master Promissory Note(s)

To take out a Direct Loan, you must complete Master Promissory Note (MPN). The MPN can be completed on the website. Durham University will only accept MPN's that have been digitally signed using your Federal Student Aid PIN.

You will need to complete an MPN for each loan that you take out, so if you decide to apply for the PLUS loan as well as the Direct Subsidised/Unsubsidised loan, you will need to complete a separate MPN for both. Also if you are applying for a PLUS loan, you need to apply for your Plus Loans Credit Check and either take a screenshot to send to Durham in your pack or include the email sent to you about your credit check.

Durham University requires new Master Promissory Notes to be completed during each year of access to Student Federal Aid.


5. Direct Loan Entrance Counselling

Loan Entrance counselling will inform you of your rights and obligations and is a Federal requirement. If you do not complete entrance counselling we cannot originate your loans. Please visit to complete your Entrance Counselling and once completed, send us a screenshot for proof.


6. Sending your application to Durham University

Once you have completed the steps above then you must email us the following documents:

  1. Completed Cost of Attendance Spreadsheet
  2. Copy of Direct Subsidised/Unsubsidised Loan Master Promissory Note
  3. Copy of Direct Loan entrance counselling confirmation
  4. Copy of a Scholarship Award letter(s) (if applicable)
  5. Signed Terms & Conditions Declaration below:

If applying for PLUS Loan:

  1. Copy of Direct PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note
  2. Copy of accepted credit check confirmation
  3. Signed Parental Consent Form below (for Parent PLUS Loan borrowers only)

Please email your completed application pack to For priority treatment please enter the subject line of your email in the following format: USL (Surname, Forename). For example: USL CLOONEY George


7. What next?

Once we have your complete application, we will be able to assess it, determine your eligibility for Federal Student Aid, and if eligible, originate loans for you. We will also generate a letter that can be used to help demonstrate funding through the Federal Loan system to support a visa application for the UK.


8. Applying for Your Visa

You can use your Direct Loans to support your application for a UK student visa to come over to Durham. Once we have confirmed and originated your loan(s) with the US Department of Education we will send to you an official letter detailing the loans you will be accessing whilst at Durham. You will be able to use this letter to demonstrate to the UK authorities your financial aid.

Further information and guidance about applying for a UK student visa can be found on our Immigration webpage.


9. Accessing your Loan Funds

Direct Loan funds are disbursed at the start of each term during an academic year. Disbursements can only be made to students who are fully enrolled on their programme of study and making satisfactory academic progress. This means that you will not be able to receive your funds until you have completed the University's registration and verification process at the start of each academic year.

Once we receive your loan funds from the US Department of Education we use these to pay off your tuition fees and University accommodation costs for the term. If there are any funds remaining from the disbursement these will be paid to you by the University's Finance Department. A cheque, in Pounds Sterling (GBP), will be made available for collection. It is strongly recommended that all students open a GBP currency bank account, whilst in the UK in order to negotiate these cheques.


Please note that the disbursement date is the date that your financial aid is paid against outstanding charges on your student account at the University, and not the date that funds will be available to you.


Deferments and Repayments

If you have taken out Federal student loans prior to coming to Durham, we will automatically update your enrolment details with the US Department of Education once you have joined us on a full-time or part-time programme of study to ensure that your repayments are deferred. If you believe that your enrolment status is not correctly registered with your servicing agent please let us know.

Please note that once you have completed your period of supervised study you ceased to be enrolled at least half time with us. The date when your studies end is not the same as the date as when you will graduate and receive your degree. If you are a doctoral student and go on continuation you will continue to be classified as enrolled at least half time and still be able to defer your loans for one 12 month period.

For information on the different deferment states, and how Durham report its student status settings to the National Student loan Data System (NSLDS) every 60 days please see Durham University US Education Loan "In-School Deferment" Classification Policy:

Interest on Direct Loans begins to accrue from the first day that the funds from your loan are used to meet the costs of your tuition fees and accommodation costs. We report the precise date to the US Department of Education to ensure that your interest repayments are correct.

The latest information about the interest rates on Direct Subsidised, Unsubsidised and PLUS Loans can be found on the U.S. Department of Education's Direct Loan Program webpage.


Withdrawal From Your Programme

If you withdraw from your programme, or if you drop below half-time enrolment status, you must inform

If you receive financial aid and then withdraw from your course or drop below the half-time enrolment requirement, we must first determine whether any of the money must be returned to the US Federal Aid Programme. These funds must be returned in the following order:

  1. Direct Unsubsidised
  2. Direct Subsidised
  3. Direct PLUS

Refund calculations applied pro-rata for any US student who is attending Durham University, and who withdraws before 60% of the loan disbursement period has been completed.

Durham University must comply with US regulations and recalculate your Financial Aid eligibility based on the period of the year you attended.

You may be required to pay back money to your loan provider from the Direct Loans you have received. It may also be possible that the University or your college will have to repay funds to the US Department of Education, and that you may be requested to make an additional payment to the school to replace any repaid funds. In addition to this, you may also be liable to repay any costs or fees incurred by the University or College when repaying funds.

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Durham University makes every effort to ensure that the information published on this page is accurate. However, the University cannot guarantee the information may not be altered owing to circumstances beyond the University's reasonable control. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) change in Government policy, or change of law. Any changes will be incorporated into the University's website as early as possible. Any person wishing to obtain confirmation of any particular item should contact the University via