Students Staff

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're a mature student without a US High School Certificate, GED, or equivalent
  • you're studying one of the excluded courses below
  • Courses excluded from US Direct Loans

    Due to US Department of Education regulations, we can't give you a US Direct Loan for:

    • nursing courses (other than those listed below)
    • non-degree programmes (eg certificate, diploma or English language programmes)
    • programmes studied less than 'half-time' (part-time)
    • any programmes delivered by distance learning
    • any programmes delivered (wholly or by joint study) at one of our partner institutions

    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.


    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. Go to the US student loans website and create an account, or sign in if you already have one. You'll complete the following steps on their website.
  2. Complete your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Specify the Federal School Code for the University of Essex: G08687.
  3. Complete your Entrance Counselling.
  4. 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.
  5. If you're also taking out a Graduate PLUS/Parent loan, request a credit check by completing the Federal Direct PLUS loan application.
  6. Complete your Annual Student Loan Acknowledgement - students borrowing loans must 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.
  7. Email us at to confirm that you are requesting funding from the US Direct Loans Programme and that steps 1-7 are complete. Include details of your course and your UCAS number or PG university number. If you don't contact us, your application for funding won't be processed.

Please read the US Federal Loans and Coronavirus – Frequently Asked Questions document (.docx) before making your application.

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

Watch advice videos from Federal Student Aid, hosted on You Tube, about How to fill out the FAFSA and After the FAFSA: What happens next?

Next steps

  • Decide how much you want to borrow

    After you've contacted us in step 6 above, we'll check that you're listed on the US Direct Loans system against the Essex school code and check your eligibility for funding. We'll then produce a Cost of Attendance (COA) for your studies. This lists your likely expenses for the year and includes:

    • tuition fees
    • accommodation
    • food
    • books and supplies
    • transportation
    • personal expenses
    • leisure

    The total shown on your COA is the maximum amount you can borrow. When we send it, we'll ask you to confirm how much you'd like to borrow. You can borrow any amount up to the COA total.

    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.

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

  • 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 (by both email and hard copy), confirming your loan.

    For 2021-22,we will confirm loans from around mid-May 2021, subject to confirmation from the US Department of Education.

    We'll send you a PDF copy of your loan letter. 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

    Your award letter will explain how your funds will be paid.

    October 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) in October 2021. If you have any outstanding tuition fees or university accommodation fees, they will be deducted from the loan, and any difference will be refunded to you. Our Student Services Hub, who arranges payment, will be at registration at all of our campuses.

    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 at the start of Spring and Summer terms, in January and April. If you have any outstanding tuition fees or university accommodation fees, they will be deducted from the loan, and any difference will be refunded to you. These will be paid directly into your UK bank account by our Student Services Hub, on or shortly after the date specified on your award letter.

    Outstanding tuition fees

    If there are outstanding fees for the term, we will deduct the fees from your loan payment and then give you the remaining funds.

    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.

Application process: Summary flowchart

  • 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 with links to policies, information and resources.

Satisfactory academic progress

If you're receiving a US Direct Loan, your loan payments may be suspended if you don't make satisfactory progress in your studies.

  • Satisfactory Academic Progress policy

    Satisfactory Academic Progress issues are addressed within the standard University of Essex regulations, policies and procedures.

    The University employs a number of different and robust measures to monitor attendance and performance, enabling early intervention where students are not attending or performing as expected. Initially, where a potential issue with a student is identified, student support staff and colleagues from the relevant department, are involved. This may then result in a referral to our central Progress Team, and the student being formally referred to a Progress Committee. If the Progress Committee determines that the student is not making satisfactory progress, then sanctions will be applied, and the student will then have recourse to an appeals process, if they wish to appeal the outcome of the committee.

    In short, the University’s definition of SAP requires that undergraduate and postgraduate taught students are making steady progress on all registered modules, and are expected to pass with a minimum grade of 40% for undergraduate courses and 50% for postgraduate taught courses when taking exams or submitting coursework. Postgraduate research students are expected to be making steady progress, as outlined in the Code of Practice for Research Students.

    In order to ensure that students receiving US loans are meeting SAP requirements, we implement a system where any students receiving US loans who are not making SAP, according to standard University requirements, are then subject to a probationary period.

    While students will continue to receive the payment scheduled for the term after which they have been subject to SAP proceedings, they will then only receive the payment subsequent to that if they have satisfied SAP measures, and have been found to be meeting the University’s definition of SAP.

    If students have not met the University’s definition of SAP then any further payments will be suspended, subject to their subsequently meeting SAP requirements.

    The University’s own progression processes include an appeals procedure, and any students subject to progression measures would have recourse to this appeals procedure.

    All new undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research students are deemed to be meeting SAP requirements for their initial disbursement (payable on registration) by their being accepted by the University of Essex and meeting University of Essex entry criteria.

    Requirements for students to demonstrate satisfactory progress are defined in terms of the threshold standards to demonstrate achievement of the relevant outcomes for each component of the curriculum the:

    • number of items and format of assessed work required for each module
    • number of modules (volume of credit) required to be achieved for each stage and the degree overall
    • way in which marks awarded for individual assessed items/modules/stages are aggregated to give an individual measure of progress and achievement

    Additional requirements pertain to the length of time within which a degree can be completed and the circumstances in which this may be excepted. Collectively, these requirements are documented in our “Rules of Assessment” publications for degree courses.

    Other aspects pertaining to progress are addressed through over-arching regulations or supporting policies and procedures. For example, students are monitored in terms of their attendance on the individual elements of the curriculum (modules); there are policies within which a student may intermit, and there are policies for submitting claims of extenuating circumstances in relation to assessed work.

    See the relevant University regulations, policies and procedures. Copies of the relevant sections are made available to new students on registration with the University and on subsequent re-registration at the start of each academic year.

    Regulations, policies and procedures apply without exception to all students, including those receiving US loans.

    Where variations exist between the ways in which these regulations, policies and procedures apply to different programmes (undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research), these variations are detailed within the structure and scope of the regulations, policies and procedures.

Leaving Essex

  • Withdrawing from your course or deferring your studies

    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:

  • Graduating

    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.

Contact us

If you have any queries, please email