US Direct Loans
If you are a student from the United States you may be eligible for a
federal direct loan from the US Department of Education. These funds are
lent directly to students for undergraduate and graduate studies, through
participating institutions, with funds borrowed from the US Treasury. Direct
loans include subsidised and unsubsidised loans, PLUS loans for parents and
graduate or professional degree students, and consolidation loans, which
allow borrowers to combine federal education loan debt.
Please review the following information regarding the loan application process, and remember that unless you
contact us by e-mail to inform us that you require this means of finance, we will not automatically process a loan in the COD system, and you will not receive funding.
How to apply
- You will need to log-on to the student loans website and create an account or sign in.
- Complete your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This will be available from 1 January 2013. When completing the FAFSA, you should specify
the OPE ID (institution code) for the University of Essex, 00868700.
- Apply for a ‘PIN’ at the student loans website in order to:
- Complete Entrance Counselling
It is a legal requirement that any US student who has not previously received a Federal Stafford Loan or a Graduate PLUS Loan should first
complete the Counselling Interview online. We cannot process your application until we have evidence that you have completed counselling. PLUS counselling also covers
subsidised and unsubsidised loan counselling requirements.
- Sign your Master Promissory Notes (MPN)
When you have completed the entrance counselling and signed the MPN electronically at the student loans website, this is linked with the
U.S. Department of Education's Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) System, which as a Foreign School we can access and complete/certify your
We cannot process your application until we can view the signed MPNs on COD. If you are intending to take out both an unsubsidised/
subsidised and Graduate Plus/ Parent Plus loan, then you (or your parent or endorser, if applicable) will need to complete a separate MPN for each
loan – one for the Unsubsidised/ subsidised, and another for the Graduate Plus/ Parent Plus.
- Request Credit Check
Should you also wish to take out the PLUS loan, you should complete the Federal Direct PLUS Request for Supplemental Information (Direct PLUS Request)
electronically via the student loans website.
We cannot process your application until we can view the outcome of your credit
check on COD, and verify that a credit check has been approved, covers the amount required, and is currently valid.
If you are unable to secure a satisfactory credit
check you may wish to explore the opportunity of gaining an endorser for the loan (typically a parent or guardian).
- E-mail us at loans (non-Essex users add @essex.ac.uk) to confirm that the above steps are complete, and that you are requesting
funding via the US Direct Loans Programme. Please also provide details of your course offer, and quote your UCAS number or PG number for the University.
What we will do
- When receiving an enquiry from a student indicating that they are seeking funding via the US Direct Loan Programme, the University will provide a copy of this document
setting out the responsibilities of both parties.
- Following a request to pursue funding we will access the COD system, to check that you are listed under our school code (00868700).
- We will complete eligibility checks on the SAR checking details such as nationality, Expected Financial Contribution (EFC) and previous borrowings.
- We will complete a Cost of Attendance (COA) for your studies, confirming your likely expenses for the year, and ask you to confirm by e-mail the amount of
the total loans available that you wish to borrow.
The COA includes a notional allowance for origination of loan fees on loans, based on the current rate of 1% for subsidised / unsubsidised loans and 4% on PLUS loans.
These fees are applied at source by the US Department of Education.
Please note this amount will be adjusted at the award stage in accordance with the amount you
wish to borrow, so, for example, should you only take the basic unsubsidised postgraduate loan for $20,500, a fee allowance of $205 will be included in your total award,
whereas if the total COA is accepted of circa $39k a fee allowance of $965 will be included in your total award.
The costs included in the COA are tuition fees, accommodation, food, books and supplies, transportation for local and international, personal expenses,
leisure and any disability-related expenses. You are free to accept any amount up to the maximum available on your COA.
If you feel that the maximum amount specified in your COA will not cover your expected expenses during the year, because you will have additional expenses
(eg. you will need to undertake additional travel as part of your course) then we may be able to increase the total offered – you should contact us and
provide details of any additional expenses so that we can take these into account.
- Having received your confirmation of the amount you wish to borrow we will check that Entrance Counselling, MPN’s and Credit Checks are all complete and
valid for the current year, as per the guidance above.
- If these are all in place we will process the loan to the agreed value as per your email confirmation.
We expect to be able to assign loans for the 2013/14 year from around March 2013, subject to confirmation from the US Department of Education.
We will then confirm by email that the loan has been completed, issuing both a hard and soft copy of the award letter, providing full details of the breakdown
of the loan and expected disbursement dates.
For the purposes of your visa application we will issue a hard copy of the award letter via DHL. This letter has been approved by the UK Border Agency as a document
supporting a UK visa application, and will demonstrate that you have funding in place for your study in the UK, so you should retain this for use when you submit a
If you have taken out any other loans then you will need to provide evidence that these funds have been in your account for a minimum of 28 days prior to
visa application. For US Direct Loans this does not apply and you will only require the award letter issued.
Disbursement of funds, in line with the details provided on the award letter, will be arranged by our Income Office, based on Square 2 on the Colchester campus.
If you are registering as a new student at the University then your initial loan payment will be made by cheque after you have registered in person in October 2013.
If you have any outstanding tuition fees, they will be deducted from the loan, and any difference will be refunded to you. Our Income Office will attend registration at
the Colchester, Loughton (East 15) and Southend campuses.
If you are a continuing student at the University and have previously registered for a course which is ongoing, then you will be able to collect your October payment
directly from our Income Office, normally on or after the date specified on your award letter.
Subsequent payments, normally at the start of the January and April terms, will also be made by cheque, which should be available to collect from our Income
Office from the payment date specified on your award letter. If you have a UK bank account and prefer to receive these payments by bank transfer, then please
contact our Income Office each term to arrange this. Please be aware that bank transfers may require several days to clear.
For both undergraduate and postgraduate enquiries e-mail usloans (non-Essex users add @essex.ac.uk).
What happens if I withdraw from my studies?
The University regards students who withdraw as being responsible for the Return of Unearned Title IV Funds in accordance with the terms of their
Master Promissory Note. Please e-mail loans and income (non-Essex users add @essex.ac.uk) and inform us that you are withdrawing from or deferring your studies and that
outstanding funds should be cancelled or refunded to the loan company.
When do I need to complete Exit Counselling?
The US Department of Education requires that all student loan borrowers complete an exit counselling session whenever you drop below half-time
enrolment status, withdraw, or graduate. To complete your online Exit Counselling session visit the student loans website, so that we can
receive results online in COD. You must ensure you do this at the point when your stay at the University is completed. The University reserves the right not to issue transcripts
of study or degree certificates until after students have completed Exit Counselling.
Why do I need to complete new documentation (for example, MPNs) on an annual basis, when I have completed the same documents in previous years and these are still valid?
US Department of Education regulations require that students studying at ‘foreign schools’ (that is, institutions outside the USA) renew MPNs and FAFSAs on an annual basis.
When do I start repaying my loan?
It is your responsibility to repay your loan. Usually, you will start repaying your loans six months from the date you graduate or leave university, or drop below half-time status.
Where can I find more information?
In addition to the other links on this page, visit Federal Student Aid where you will find more information.
Where can I get advice on completing the FAFSA/ Credit check/ MPN?
Please contact the COD Applicant Services team on (US) (800) 557-7394.
What interest rates apply to US loans?
|Direct Subsidised Loans
|Direct Unsubsidised Loans
Further information on loan rates and features.
What exchange rate will apply to the loan I receive?
We calculate your initial loan amount based on the exchange rate in force at the time of the calculation. When your loan is disbursed, we will calculate the
conversion from UK sterling to US dollars based on the exchange rate in force at that point. Exchange rates are subject to fluctuation.