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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for my loan?

There are several steps to a 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.

The first step is to complete your FAFSA for the correct loan year. Once we have received your FAFSA information, we will email you the application pack and we can start the loan process.

Can I receive PELL Grant?

Unfortunately, you will not be eligible for a PELL Grant or Perkins Loans, as these are not available to students studying in Foreign Schools.

I have completed my FAFSA but I haven't heard anything, what should I do?

We download the information once a week and once we have received your FAFSA information, email you the application pack. If you haven't received an email from within two weeks of completing your FAFSA, please send us an email to ask about it. There might be occasions where the email is sent to your spam box.

I received a US Loan at Durham 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. Your eligibility is assessed annually for each new academic year: please note that eligibility in one year does not automatically imply or guarantee continued eligibility for a future year. Federal rules affecting eligibility may change from year to year, and personal circumstances affecting eligibility may change from year to year.

What exchange rate is used when calculating my cost of attendance?

For the 2020/21 academic year, we are using the exchange rate of $1.35 = £1 to calculate the cost of attendance. However, the actual amount that you will receive in GBP will depend upon the exchange rate on the day we withdraw the funds down.

How do I obtain proof of funding for visa purposes?

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 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.

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

The US Department of Education decided to make multiple 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 (October, January and April).

When will I receive my loan disbursements?

You will receive loan disbursements at the beginning of each academic term (October, January and April). Exact dates are given on your loan award letter because it differs each 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 cost 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 (check), in Pounds Sterling (GBP), will be made available for collection.

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.

This process will be repeated at the start of each term.

Do I need a UK Bank account?

It is strongly recommended that all students open a GBP currency bank account, whilst in the UK, in order to negotiate their disbursement cheques.

How does my scholarship affect my tuition fee payments?

If you get a tuition fee scholarship, it will be deducted from your tuition fee invoice, reducing your termly tuition fee amount.

Are my tuition fees already deducted from my refund cheque and what is the breakdown of the fees?

Before every disbursement is made, you will receive an email from the Finance Office giving you the breakdown of your disbursement. It will tell you how much is the converted value of your disbursement, how much is applied towards your tuition fees and accommodation costs, how much is being refunded or if there is no refund, how much is left for you to pay.

My disbursement was scheduled for today. Could I come by the Reception desk to pick it up?

Please do not come to our office to collect the cheque until you have received an email from telling you it's ready for you.

Why do I have to collect the disbursement cheque in person and why can't you transfer the funds to my Bank account?

Durham University procedure is that students must collect and sign for any refund cheques in person at the Scholarships and Student Funding Service front desk and bring their Student Campus Card with them. This is a way we can monitor student presence and make sure they are not residing in the US. Federal Student Aid issued through a Foreign School is only permissible for study outside of the United States.

How can I defer repayments on previous US student loans?

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. We will submit in-school deferment through National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) every 60 days. It is an automated process and there is no need to fill in the deferment forms.

Students attending Durham, not accessing US student loans, but who have borrowed within the loan programs during the earlier study may also defer their loans. In order to certify enrolment, such students need to forward paper deferment forms for private loans together with their US Social Security Number and their University Student identifier (Banner ID) to

  • You can find out more information about deferment from our Direct US Loans section

How and when do I start repaying my loans?

You will arrange repayment directly through your loans servicer. You can check who your loan servicer is at the FSA website.

You can also make an early repayment directly to your loan servicer. If you make a repayment within 120 days of loan disbursement, then your lender will treat this as a partial or full cancellation, with the appropriate adjustment of the loan fee and interest.

Is the University of Durham eligible for the US Department of Veterans Affairs Funding?

Durham University participates in the VA Educational Benefits programme (GI BILL). Please find more information from our Veterans Benefits section.

What happens if I withdraw from my course, but have already received US Loans?

If you wish to 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 requirements, we must first determine whether any of the money must be returned to the US Federal Aid Programme. 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.

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.

How do I increase, decrease or cancel my loans?

We require a minimum of two weeks' notice prior to the next disbursement date in order to action a change to your loan with effect from that disbursement. Please email for any change you wish to carry out.

Can I receive my US loan while I'm residing in US?

Due to the COVID-19 emergency the US Government has, until the end of December 2020, allowed full-time courses to be taken via distance learning.

The current expectation is that students at Foreign Schools (e.g. Durham University) would study on campus from January 2021 but, as events unfold, we expect updated advice from the US and UK Governments.

Updates will be published on this web page as they become available.

You have an option to borrow private student loans while residing in the US but not the Federal Student Aid. Please find more information about the Private Loans from our Private US Loans section.

Federal Student Aid issued through a Foreign School is only permissible for study outside of the United States. You cannot receive the Federal Aid programme through Durham University, whilst residing and/or studying in the United States. This means that you must not be resident in the United States during the course of your studies (vacation visits "home" are of course permissible).

The one exemption to this is for a single 12 month period of the writing-up period for a PhD programme and if the research can only be conducted in the United States. You need to contact Scholarships and Student Funding Service to confirm continuing entitlement to this rule if you are proposing to use it, and to determine how disbursements may be made.

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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