US Direct Loans

If you're from the United States you may be eligible for a federal Direct Loan from the US Department of Education. Loans are available for undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

US Direct Loans include:

  • Subsidised and Unsubsidised loans
  • Plus loans for parents of undergraduate students, and for graduate students


You can't get a US Direct Loan if:

  • you do not have a US High School Certificate, GED, or equivalent.
  • you're studying one of the excluded courses below.

Courses excluded from US Direct Loans

The following programmes are not eligible for federal aid:

  • Any non-degree bearing course, e.g. undergraduate or graduate certificates and diplomas.
  • Foundation programmes or Top ups.
  • Any joint qualifications or dual awards programmes.
  • Courses which are less than half time.
  • Courses involving telecommunications or correspondence (including distance education and/or self-directed; online teaching or by direct assessment). *
  • Courses involving study outside of the UK for more than 25% of the overall course credits.
  • Courses involving placements which make up more than 25% of the course credits
  • Any programmes delivered (wholly or by joint study) at one of our partner institutions
  • Nursing, medical or medical training courses (this also includes the MD programme)
    Summer school courses.

*Eligible programmes and courses may only use telecommunications technologies to supplement and support instruction that is offered in a classroom located in Essex - Colchester, Southend or Loughton (UK) i.e., where the students and instructors are physically present.

Students on ineligible courses can apply for a private loan to fund the full cost of their course via a private loan provider, such as Sallie Mae.

Work placement and studying at another university

If you intend to study a programme that has an option for a period of study abroad or includes a work placement (Internship or Externship) please email to check that your intended programme of study is eligible for US Direct Loans.

We would advise you to arrange your placement or study abroad as early as possible and keep us updated on your proposed placement / study details so that we can advise further on eligibility. This is especially important as funding for your whole course may be affected if your placement or year abroad is not eligible.


Nursing programmes which you can receive a US Direct Loan for are:

Please be aware that our nursing programmes do not have US accreditation and if your intention is to gain employment in the US after completing this programme, it is your responsibility to ensure the programme meets the current annual US licensing requirements.

Getting your loan

You need to apply for a new loan each year during your course, following the process below each time.

How to start your application

  1. You, and anybody who will contribute information to your FAFSA form, will need to create a account or sign in if you already have one.
  2. Complete your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) on the Federal Student Aid website. Specify the Federal School Code for the University of Essex: G08687.
  3. You will also need to apply for your course here at Essex.

If you need advice on completing your FAFSA contact the applicant services team on US (800) 557-7394.

Further information about filling in your FAFSA form can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.

We will calculate your Cost of Attendance and send you an Aid Offer

After you've completed your FAFSA, we should receive your Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR), which is the information required for us to assess your loan entitlement. We'll then produce a Cost of Attendance (COA) for your studies. This lists your likely expenses for the year and includes:

  • Tuition Fees
  • Visa and NHS Health Surcharge (for new students as this is paid at the start of your course)
  • Housing
  • Food
  • Books and supplies
  • Transportation (local and international)
  • Personal expenses such as clothing, toiletries and recreation
  • Allowance for obtaining licence / professional credentials (if applicable to your course)
  • Loan fees

If you have childcare costs or disability related costs please get in touch as we may be able to include these in your Cost of Attendance calculation.

Our Cost of Attendance Calculation is based on the assumption that Loughton students are in private housing, and Colchester and Southend students are in University owned accommodation. If this is not the case for you, please let us know and we can amend the calculation.

When calculating the Cost of Attendance, we use your actual cost for tuition fees and loan fees, and the average costs which we expect a student to need based on the length of your course, and which campus you are at. Our costs are generally based on responses from the Save the Student Survey 2024 and our own US Loans funded students survey, where Essex students told us what they actually spend, or average expected costs where more appropriate. The Cost of Attendance is reviewed annually and there may be changes each year.

Some students may spend more or less depending on lifestyle and accommodation choices.

You may feel that the maximum amount on your COA won’t cover your expected expenses for the year. For example, you may know that you’ll need to undertake additional travel for your course. If this is the case, you should contact us and provide details of expected additional expenses, and we may be able to increase the total offered.

Please see further information on our Cost of Living pages.

Decide how much you want to borrow

The total shown on your Aid Offer is the maximum amount you can borrow.

There are limits to the amount of subsidized and unsubsidized aid you can receive – for further information please see the Federal Student Aid website.

When we send your Aid Offer, we'll ask you to confirm how much you'd like to borrow. Most students can borrow any amount up to the COA total less your Other Financial Assistance. This may not be the case if you are an independent undergraduate or if you (or your parents if you are a dependent student) have poor credit, so please get in touch for further advice if this applies to you.

If you borrow less than your Cost of Attendance for any reason, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition fees and living expenses.

When deciding how much to borrow, you may want to check the current interest rates on US Direct Loans.

When you have decided how much loan you want to borrow, you will also need to complete the following:

  • Complete your Entrance Counselling.
  • Sign your Master Promissory Notes (MPN). If you want to get both an unsubsidised/subsidised loan and a Graduate Plus/Parent loan, you’ll need to complete a separate MPN for each loan.
  • If you’re also taking out a Graduate PLUS/Parent loan, request a credit check by completing the Federal Direct PLUS loan application.
  • Complete your Annual Student Loan Acknowledgement – students borrowing loans are advised to complete the Informed Borrowing Confirmation process once each award year. The purpose of Informed Borrowing Confirmation is to view your cumulative loan balance and repayment obligations.

Any questions please get in touch at

Confirmation of your loan and your visa application

After you've confirmed how much you'd like to borrow, we'll check your entrance counselling, MPNs and credit checks are complete. If everything is in order we will send you a letter, confirming your loan.

For 2024-2025, we will confirm loans from May 2024, subject to confirmation from the US Department of Education.

We'll send you a PDF copy of your loan letter via email. This letter has been approved by the UK Home Office as a document that can support a UK visa application. You can use it to demonstrate that you have funding in place for your study in the UK. Make sure that you keep the letter to use when submitting your visa application. (If you are a US national then you are not required to provide financial proofs at the point you make your visa application, but must hold suitable proofs in case you are asked to show these).

If you have taken out any other loans then you will need to provide evidence that the money from them has been in your account for at least 28 days prior to your visa application. For US Direct Loans this does not apply and you only need the award letter.

Receiving your loan - Institutional Charges

Your award letter will explain how your funds will be paid and will list your expected disbursement dates. At each disbursement, the University will deduct institutional charges such as tuition fees and accommodation charges for the relevant payment period.

If the loan amount is lower than Institutional charges, an invoice will be raised for the remaining amount.

If the loan disbursement is greater than the institutional charges, the Income will arrange for onward settlement of funds to the student’s UK bank account using Convera.

Please see the Tuition Fee Liability Policy (.pdf) for further information.

Please note that a loan can only be used to pay institutional charges from the academic year for which the loan is awarded, and cannot be used to pay any outstanding charges from previous academic years.

First payment

If you're a new student, your first loan payment will be made after you have registered at the University in person and completed the right to study check (if applicable).

We use Convera to process your disbursements on our behalf.  You should receive an email before the start of term from Convera which will invite you to create a login and provide your UK bank details ready for payment.

We advise you to open a UK bank account asap to avoid payment delays.

If your bank account details change at any time during your studies, please email us at and ask to be sent a new link to enter your bank details again – do not email us your bank details directly. 

If you're a continuing student starting your second (or later) year, your payment will be made after you have re-registered online and completed the right to study check (if applicable).

Subsequent payments

Remaining payments are made as per the schedule on your Award Letter. 

Exchange rate

When your loan payments are made, the amounts are calculated using the exchange rate at that point. Exchange rates are subject to fluctuation.

Default management plan

This default management plan contains some of the strategies used by the University of Essex to help our American Loan Students understand the responsibility of borrowing loans to fund their degree studies. The purpose is to reduce the number of students who default on loan repayments.

1. Entrance and counselling

All first time borrowers of Direct Loan program, new students or students changing study path are required to undertake entrance counselling where students are advised about:

  • how the master promissory note works,
  • the importance of repaying the loan,
  • the consequences of default, and
  • sample monthly repayment amounts

2. Early identification and counselling for students at risk of progression/withdrawal

Departments are responsible for identifying students at risk of withdrawing and counselling them accordingly with a view to retaining those students.

Students who withdraw or are considering withdrawing prior to the completion of their programme are interviewed by a member of their Department. They are provided with guidance at that interview and every effort will be made to resolve any issues to prevent the student withdrawal. US students who have withdrawn are contacted, and provided with information on Title IV refunds and request that they complete Exit Counselling. If you are considering withdrawing, please contact us at to seek advice on how this will affect your funding. 

3. Communication

All Federal Direct Loan students are directed to the mandatory Foreign Schools Consumer Information. Academic progress and enrolment status are held on the central student record system which is accessible by all relevant offices across campus including the offices that disburses funds and authorise payments.

In addition we request confirmation from the students’ Department of their satisfactory academic progress before disbursement of funds.

Up to date contact information for both the student and next of kin is obtained from students at registration.

The University has effective procedures in place to ensure accurate and timely communications across the relevant departments. This ensures the relevant aid is disbursed on time and to the correct students and is compliant with Direct Loan regulations.

4. Exit counselling

Graduating and withdrawing students are advised that they must undertake Exit Counselling as a condition of borrowing Federal Direct Loans.

Students must confirm to the Funding Team that they have completed exit counselling and a copy is retained in the student file.

5. Timely and accurate enrolment reporting

The University of Essex will ensure that accurate information on enrolments including updates are submitted to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) at regular intervals throughout the year.

6. Analyse defaulted loan data

Defaulted loan data is monitored to identify defaulting borrowers and to analyse the reasons for defaulting. The Loan Record Detail Report (LRDR) is reviewed to determine if there are common characteristics among defaulters.

Any student defaulting on their loans and who contacts the Funding Team will be directed to their individual Loan Servicer and provided with contact details to discuss repayment options.

7. Tools and activities for schools

The University of Essex will make use of the recommended tools listed below to ensure data accuracy and use effective loan counselling and default prevention management techniques to aid students and the University.

8. Loan counselling

9. Enrolment reporting and data accuracy

10. Default prevention

11. General connections/publications

Consumer disclosure information

Federal regulations require schools to disclose specific consumer information to prospective and enrolled students. Read our summary of consumer information topic areas (.pdf) with links to policies, information and resources. A paper copy available on request - contact

Satisfactory Academic Progress policy

All students who are in receipt of US Federal Aid whilst studying at University of Essex are required to make satisfactory progress on their course of study and to abide by all Ordinances and Regulations of the University.

The US Department of Education require University of Essex to check the student’s progress at intervals, and to ensure that they are meeting both the Quantitative and Qualitative requirements. Please review our Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy (.pdf) for further information.

Private Loan

This option is available to all students, although some students may require a co-signer. Loans are based upon credit history and interest rates will vary.

As Federal Loans generally have more favourable terms and conditions than private loans, we suggest that you check interest rates, compare terms and conditions and thoroughly investigate the possibility of taking out a Federal Loan before applying for a private loan.

Leaving Essex

Taking a temporary leave of absence, withdrawing from your course or deferring your studies

If you are in receipt of a US Loans, please be aware that a University approved intermission is not the same as an Approved Leave of Absence under 34 CFR 668.22(d). You may be subject to our Return of Title IV Funds Policy (.pdf). Please contact our Funding team at for advice on your individual circumstances before making a final decision.

We regard students who withdraw as being responsible for the Return of Unearned Title IV Funds in accordance with the terms of their MPN. Please email and tell us that you are withdrawing from or deferring your studies and that outstanding funds should be cancelled or refunded to the loan company.

If you withdraw, you'll:


When you finish your course, you'll need to complete exit counselling (see below).

Exit counselling

The US Department of Education requires all student loan borrowers to complete an exit counselling session if you:

  • graduate
  • withdraw from your studies
  • drop below half-time enrolment status

You must complete your exit counselling online, using your US student loans account.

Make sure you do this after you have left Essex.

We reserve the right not to issue study transcripts or degree certificates until you have completed your exit counselling.

Repaying your loan

It is your responsibility to repay your loan. You will usually start repaying it six months from the date when you graduate, withdraw or drop below half-time status.

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Telephone: +44 (0) 1206 874636