Loans for US students at Aberystwyth University
The purpose of this site is to guide US students to access sufficient funds for their studies at our University.
Loans have become an essential element for most students, whether they are from the UK, the US or any country for that matter. There are differences in the way that loan programs work in each country and most will be geared to students studying in their home countries. Please read the relevant sections below that should identify the differences in securing both Federal and private loans to study in the UK.
Please note that all loans must be repaid. It is the responsibility of the borrower to repay the loan.
Under the Direct Loan programme, the lender will be the US Federal Government rather than any commercial lender or bank.
Direct Loans (DL)
Aberystwyth University is recognised as a Foreign School by the US Department of Education and holds a Title IV Agreement. Our School Code is G08452 whilst our OPEID is 00845200. Please note that although we are in the United Kingdom, our University is in Wales rather than England. This is reflected in the U.S. Department of Education's School Code list.
Ensure that you have been offered a place on a full-time degree course (Bachelor, Master or Doctoral) before starting your loan application.
Applications for Master's degree courses and Doctoral programs should be submitted directly to the Postgraduate Admissions Office.
Applications for Bachelor's degree courses should be submitted via the UK's central admissions system for undergraduate courses - UCAS. Please contact our Undergraduate Admissions Office and visit the undergraduate pages for further information.
We will be able to advise on the estimated cost of attendance. You can borrow up to the value of your cost of attendance (COA) with a combination of Direct Loan, (Grad or Parent) PLUS loan and private loan.
Students on distance-learning courses, which are sometimes referred to as on-line programs, are no longer eligible for Federal aid. They must opt for private loans.
Student receiving U.S. Federal Aid through a Foreign School must not study in the U.S. (i.e. part-time PhD students cannot receive aid if they are studying in the US and Masters students cannot return to the US over the summer months to complete their dissertation). The extension of U.S. Federal Direct Loan Program was to allow students to study outside of the U.S. The calculation of the actual amount of Federal Aid is based on the student pursuing their entire course at the specified Foreign School.
The actual Federal regulation states: "The Institution is authorized to participate in the U.S. Federal Student Aid Programs in order to provide U.S. students with access to financial assistance to receive postsecondary education outside of the United States. The Institution may not make available William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program funds to U.S. students who receive any portion of an educational program inside the United States. The Institution may not certify or disburse Direct Loan program funds under a "study abroad" or "student exchange" agreement for U.S. students to attend educational Institutions located in the United States. However, as of July 1, 2011, independent research done by an individual student in the United States for not more than one academic year is permitted, if it is conducted during the dissertation phase of a doctoral program under the guidance of faculty, and the research can only be performed in a facility in the United States."
If this regulation is not adhered to, then the whole program becomes invalid. Any Federal Aid received for the program would have to be returned. Please be aware that the University may take steps to recover any debts or losses from students as a result of them not adhering to this strict regulation.
If you are a registered full-time student at Aberystwyth University, with previous US Federal loans outstanding, you can ask for their re-payments to be deferred. Please download the In-School Deferment from. After you have completed the relevant sections, please bring this form in person to the Cledwyn Building for authorisation.
The first step in applying for a Federal loan is to complete your FAFSA on-line to establish your eligibility. Visit www.fafsa.ed.gov . Further advice is available at https://studentloans.gov . Once completed, this will generate a Student Aid Report (SAR) and an ISIR (an electronic counterpart to the SAR). You may receive a 2-page SAR receipt electronically but we have to check the ISIR. It is this document that basically determines if you are eligible for Federal Aid, although there are several other checks and information required during the origination process. We (the School) have to determine the amount of aid that you would be eligible for within the limits set by the US Federal Government.
The US Government as a Lender
For the Direct Loan program, the US Government is the Lender. The student takes out a loan directly with the US Government. This is a secure and reliable source for loans and an efficient way of financing and administering the whole Federal loan provision. Foreign Schools, such as ourselves, originate the loans electronically on the US Government's systems.
On each disbursement date, the US Government transfers all of the requested loan funds to the School who will then disburse the funds to the students. The first disbursement will be made shortly after registration and all subsequent payments made during the course of the year. Schools report student attendance and progress to directly to the US Government on their NLSDS system on a regular basis (every 2 months) and also on an ad-hoc basis as soon as any changes to the student's registration occurs.
Some private companies are contracted by the US Government to service the loans made under the Direct Loan program.
Applying for your loan and the Master Promissory Note (MPN)
You will have to apply for each type of loan (Direct and where applicable a Grad Plus loan) yourself for each academic year. For dependent undergraduate students, it is their parents who will have to take out a PLUS loan (i.e. a Parental Loan for Undergraduate Students). A separate MPN will be required for each loan. These may be paper or electronic MPN, although eMPNs are by far the preferred option. Please do not forget to complete a MPN for each loan you are applying for (i.e. an MPN for your Stafford loan and a separate MPN for a PLUS or Grad Plus loan if you are also taking out one of these). Please ensure that your MPN has been completed for the academic year that you'll be studying in.
For further information, please see the new Direct Loan website for students: studentloans.gov
Our University's policy of verifying the source of finances for all students ensures that students have adequate funds for their studies and that their payment plans may be integrated with the receipt of their funds. This is particularly important for non-EEA students who require visas, for which we provide a Notification of Student Loan letter. We will be able to use the information for your Stafford, PLUS, Grad Plus or private loans as evidence of your finances. We will make additional copies of relevant documentation for this internal procedure for your admission onto your chosen degree course. This makes this part of our admissions process much easier. You will probably require this as evidence of available funds when applying for your student visa to enter the UK.
The loan amount limits will be noted on the Calculation of Cost of Attendance (Net Price Calculator) (e-mailed as a pdf). These will be determined by the type of student, cost of attendance (COA) and Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This EFC is calculated for a 9-month academic year. Thus for postgraduate students studying over a 12-months period, his EFC will have to be pro-rated (i.e. x 12/9) to calculate the appropriate EFC for the relevant Loan Period. The Loan Period and disbursement dates will be noted as shown below.
The Cost of Attendance (COA) is calculated on the sum of your tuition fees and your estimated living costs but may be adjusted to account for any dependents and travel from your home to Aberystwyth. The estimated living costs are shown in GB Pound Sterling (£) but may be converted to US Dollars ($) using an on-line currency converter (e.g. www.oanda.com/currency/converter/). Please note however that currency exchange rates can fluctuate.
The currency exchange rate that used for calculating COA for 2017-2018 was £1.00 (GBP) = $1.3013 (USD). This is in-line with the rate that other UK universities who participate in the Federal DL Program will use. Loans may have to be adjusted at a later date (e.g. April) should the exchange rate deviate significantly from the above estimated exchange rate. A decision on what exchange rate to use for 2018-2019 will be made at the end of May/beginning of June 2018. For this reason, no loans will be originated until June 2018 at the earliest. This still leaves sufficient time to apply for a student visa.
Your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) will be noted on the top right hand corner of the first page of your SAR/ISIR.
If you have completed the above steps, you will receive a calculation of your COA by e-mail (from May 2018 onwards). You will then have to return the declaration/reply slip to specify which loans you want to take out and the exact amount of each loan, subject to regulatory limits. You will have 14 calendar days prior to each disbursement in which to cancel or reduce that disbursement.
Entrance Counseling & Exit Counseling
If this is your first loan, you must undertake Entrance Counseling. Your loan will not be originated unless you have done so. Even if you have obtained loans in the past, it is still advisable that you undertake Entrance Counseling. Avoiding Entrance Counseling on-line could result in your loan not being disbursed as it is an in-built feature of the relevant U.S. Department of Education's database. Entrance Counseling is thus strongly advised for all students, not only is it beneficial in the long term but it could avoid delays to your disbursements.
All students must undertake Exit Counseling towards the end of their course. You must do this before receiving your final disbursement.
N.B. Your final disbursement may be withheld if you have not completed Exit Counseling on-line. Please print a .pdf of the confirmation that you have undertaken Exit Counseling and send it to Rhys Williams at the Postgraduate Admissions Office at the appropriate time.
Please note that if you are on a 3-year programme and thus have to take out a loan for each of the 3 academic years, you only have to undertake the Entrance Counseling once, before you start the course, and the Exit Counseling once, towards the end of your course. The following timeline will apply:
- Bachelors students: undertake Exit Counseling in the April of their final (i.e. 3rd) year
- Masters students: undertake Exit Counseling in the May of their 1-year course. (N.B. Applicable to taught Masters and MPhil students)
- PhD students: undertake Exit Counseling in the May of their 3rd year.
Federal Direct Loan Program
Direct Loans are available to both undergraduate and postgraduate students. For undergraduate students, these are partly subsidised by the US Government (although this means that the US Government is paying interest on this part of the loan to itself, at least it's kept by the Government and doesn't go to the banks). For 2018-2019, these loans have a fixed interest rates currently set at 5.05% for UG Direct Loans and 6.60% for PG Direct loans. For 2017-2018, a 1.066% Origination fee was charged for all Direct loans. The maximum loan amounts differ for dependent undergraduates, independent graduates and graduate/professional students. There are also aggregate lifetime maximum loan limits. Repayments are deferred whilst you are on the course but typically begin 6 months after the student ceases to be enrolled at least "half-time".
Federal Grad Plus Loan Program (postgraduates only)
If you have taken out the maximum value of Direct Loan, you can apply for a Grad Plus Loan to top-up your finances. These loans have a fixed interest rate that is currently set at 7.60%. There was a 4.264% Origination fee for 2017-2018. You do not need a parent to co-sign your Grad Plus application forms. Repayments are deferred whilst you are on the course but can be extended to 6 months after the student's enrolment drops to "less than half-time".
Federal Parent PLUS Loan Program (parents of undergraduates only)
Parents of dependent undergraduates students can take-out a Parent Plus loan to supplement the Direct Loan, subject to cost of attendance and credit rating. These loans have a fixed interest rate that is currently set at 7.60%. There was a 4.264% Origination fee for 2017-2018. Repayments start 60 days after the final disbursement (unless extended).
These may be used to supplement your Federal loans but only up to your cost of attendance and will be subject to credit rating. You will probably be required to have a co-signer. These private loans are offered at commercial rates. The only lender that we know of that provides loans to study in the UK is Sallie Mae.
All loan funds will be sent to the designated US Dollar account that we hold with Western Union on the designated disbursement dates. We then receive the funds and allocate the appropriate amount to each student. We will subtract the relevant tuition fees and if applicable accommodation fees from each disbursement before disbursing the remainder to you. Please note that the first disbursement will be by cheque whilst latter payments can be made directly to your UK bank accounts.
Loan disbursements must be split into equal disbursements. We specify disbursements for our students on a termly basis (i.e. 3 terms for undergraduate and 4 term for postgraduate (the 4th term being the summer period June-September)). We will specify the following:
Postgraduates: 1st October 2018, 9th January 2019, 1st May 2019 and 1st July 2019. [N.B. 12 month loan period]
Undergraduates: 1st October 2018*, 9th January 2019 and 1st May 2019. [N.B. 9 month loan period]
N.B. If this is your final year or if you are a Masters student, you must undertake Exit Counselling before your final disbursement.
Postgraduates: 1st October 2017, 8th January 2018, 16th April 2018 and 1st July 2018. [N.B. 12 month loan period]
Undergraduates: 1st October 2017*, 8th January 2018 and 16th April 2018. [N.B. 9 month loan period]
N.B. If this is your final year or if you are a Masters student, you must undertake Exit Counselling before your final disbursement
To open UK bank accounts in Aberystwyth, the Academic Quality & Records Office (AQRO) will be able to provide the letter of introduction to UK banking facilities that you'll require for this purpose. You will now be able to request a bank letter through your student record portal and subsequently come to collect it from the Academic Quality & Records Office (first floor) reception, Cledwyn Building, Penglais Campus. We'll aim to have the bank letter ready for you that afternoon or the following morning.
If your loans are greater than your tuition fees, your first disbursement will be by cheque. You can collect it from the Fees Office in the Student Welcome Centre. Subsequent disbursements will be paid directly into your UK bank accounts if you provide the Fees Office with your bank details (sort code and account number), which can now be provided via your student record portal. We'll aim to make payments into your new UK accounts within 10 working days of the disbursement dates noted above. Please ensure that you have sufficient funds (e.g. cash, credit card, traveller's cheques) to cover your livings costs for both your journey to Aberystwyth and a further 2 weeks after your arrival.
N.B. Different dates will apply to PhD and MPhil students who start at other times of the year. The loans are for study outside of the US. Study in the US is not permitted and would invalidate their programme, reqiuring thar the entire loan be repaid.
N.B. Masters students who return home to the US for dissertation element of their programme (June to September) will not receive further disbursements of their loans. In fact, this would invalidate their programme, meaning that their entire loan would have to be repaid.
N.B. Students must be in Aberystwyth to receive such loans as this is dependent upon satisfactory attendance (min. 50%) and satisfactory academic progress.
Please note that these are the dates that the US Government will send funds to the University. These funds can take up to 3 working days to clear.
Our Fees Office [email@example.com], which is located in the Student Welcome Centre (Penglais), will deal with your loan disbursements. A portion of the tuition fees will be taken to pay for tuition fees (and if applicable University accommodation fees) and the remainder disbursed to you, the student. This is not only more convenient for our students, it also conforms to Federal audit regulations. Please note that she only deals with the disbursement of funds not the origination of loans. You can only receive disbursements after you have registered.
i) Annual Direct Loan Limits for 2018-2019 and for 2017-2018
Subsidised Unsubsidised Total Postgraduates/Professionals * $0 * $20,500 * $20,500 Dependent 1st year Undergraduates $3,500 $2,000 $5,500 Dependent 2nd year Undergraduates $4,500 $2,000 $6,500 Dependent 3rd year Undergraduates $5,500 $2,000 $7,500 Independent 1st year Undergraduates $3,500 $6,000 $9,500 Independent 2nd year Undergraduates $4,500 $6,000 $10,500 Independent 3rd year Undergraduates $5,500 $7,000 $12,500
* N.B. Postgraduate/professional students are not eligible for the subsidised Direct loan. They may borrow the full amount of $20,500 as an unsubsidised loan.
ii) Maximum Aggregate Federal Loan Limits for 2018-2019 and for 2017-2018
Maximum Aggregate Subsidised Direct Loans Maximum Aggregate Total Direct Loans Postgraduates/Professionals $65,500 $138,500 Dependent Undergraduates $23,000 $31,000 Independent Undergraduates $23,000 $57,500
Your Loan and Your Student Visa
The required proof of your funds will be issued to you by Aberystwyth University after your loan has been approved and originated. You will be able to use this together with the letter of acceptance from the University, the CAS number issued by the University, our University's Sponsor's Licence Number, and proof of your qualifications to apply for your (adult) student visa under Tier 4 of the UK Visas & Immigration's Points Based System.
N.B. From spring 2011 onwards, the dates specified for your CAS will be as follows:
- Bachelors students: 3 academic years to 30th June (final year)
- Masters students: 1 calendar year to 30th September (N.B. Applicable to taught Masters and MPhil students)
- PhD students: 4 calendar years from date of commencement (the UK Visas & Immigration would be informed of early completion)
N.B. Universities can only issue CAS within a 6 month period before the proposed start date. Students can only submit their visa applications using their CAS within a 90-day period before their proposed start date.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
Your eligibility of both Federal and private loans is dependent upon your continued attendance and participation on the relevant degree programme and registration with Aberystwyth University. If there is any change to your circumstances, e.g. temporary or permanent withdrawal, extensions, ...etc.) you must inform both Postgraduate Records (AQRO) at our University and Rhys Williams at the Postgraduate Admissions Office. If you leave the programme of study, even temporarily, you will have to repay part or all of your loan. US Federal regulations specify that the student must complete their programme within 150% of the published length of that programme.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for the purposes of US Federal Loans will be defined by the relevant regulations of the University:
Postgraduate Taught Masters (MA/LLM/MSc/MRes) Students See also Code of Practice for Taught Postgraduates
Postgraduate Research Masters (MPhil/LLM by Research) Students See also Code of Practice for Research Postgraduates
Doctoral (PhD) Students See also Code of Practice for Research Postgraduates
In all of the above cases, the student must demonstrate satisfactory academic progress. If not, they may be placed on probation for financial aid. If progress is still not made, financial aid may be withdrawn from them. It should also be stressed that poor attendance could mean that the University may have to report this to UK Visas & Immigration, resulting in the student's visa being revoked.
Any appeals against a decision to suspend financial aid, have to be made in writing to Dr. Rhys Williams (Postgraduate Admissions Manager) within 14 calendar days of notice. This will then be considered by a designated panel and a final response made within another 14 calendar days.
The relevant offices (Alan Macmillan (Academic Quality & Records Office), Rhys Williams ((PG Admissions Office)) and the Katerine-Stivasari-Jones (Compliance Officer- International Office) should be notified of any change to the study details (e.g. academic progress, course, mode of study, temporary withdrawal, permanent withdrawal) as soon as possible in order to assess the impact on Satisfactory Academic Progress and the calculation for the Return of Title IV Funds (i.e. repayment of the portion of the loan that has not been earned to the Lender/Federal Government).
The length of courses/programmes for loan purposes, with implications for repayments, are as follows:
- Bachelors: 3 academic years "Full-time" (e.g. September 2016 to June 2019). Thereafter "Graduated" (i.e. completed course).
- Masters: 1 calendar year "Full-time" (e.g. September 2016 to September 2017). If not "Graduated" (i.e. completed course), then "Half-time" if still present in Aberystwyth writing up dissertaion (within limits of Tier 4 visa) and attendance can be verified otherwise "Less than half-time". (N.B. Applicable to both taught Masters and MPhil students).
- PhD: 3 calendar years "Full-time" (e.g. September 2016 to September 2019). If not "Graduated" (i.e. completed course), then "Half-time" for the writing up-period (up to an additional year, within limits of Tier 4 visa) if attendance can be verified. Otherwise "Less than half-time".
N.B. Receipt of loan funds is dependent upon satfisfactory academic progress and satisfactory attendance (minumum 50% although satisfactory academic progress as required by the University will require much higher attendance rates than this). Attendance will be based on that used by the University for UK Visas & Immigration's monitoring requirements. If you do not require a visa to study in the UK and thus not subject to UKVI monitoring, your attendance for US Federal loan purposes must stil be monitored and will be verified with the relevant department(s).
Payment of University Tuition Fees and Accommodation Fees
Any fees due to the University will be subtracted from your loan funds within 3-working days of receipt from the US Government. We will disburse the remaining funds to you within another 10 working days.
The University's Refund Policy
The University's generic policy on the refunds due to early withdrawal from a programme of study is available on-line. However, fees for research students would be calculated pro-rate (on a monthly basis). Reference to "Student Loans" in this policy refers to the UK Student Loan system. This could cause confusion if you are a postgraduate and/or an international student. This should not be confused with the Return of Title IV Funds (i.e. paying back loan funds that have not been earned).
Please be aware that the University may take steps to recover any debts or losses from students as a result of them no longer being eligible for Federal Aid.
Procedure for the Return of Title IV Funds
This is calculated on a different basis to the generic refund of fees due to a student. The difference for US Direct Loan students is that the funds are received by the University first and relevant tuition fees and accommodation fees subtracted before disbursing the remaining fees (if applicable) to the student. Calculations are based on a standard set of equations as determined by the US Department of Education. The amounts that the University has to repay for subsidised Stafford, unsubsidised Stafford and PLUS/GradPlus loans is determined and refunded to the US Treasury within 45 days. The amount that the student has to repay is also calculated.
As loan disbursements are made on a termly basis, the proportion of days that a student has attended within that term will determine how much federal aid he/she has earned. If this is greater than 60% of the term, the return of Title IV funds will not be required. If it is less than or equal to 60%, then the appropriate calculation and refund must be performed.
Please be aware that the University may take steps to recover any debts or losses from students as a result of them no longer being eligible for US Federal Aid.
For further advice on any of the above topics, please contact Dr. Rhys Williams at the Postgraduate Admissions Office