The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program offers Direct Loans to eligible students and parents to help pay for the cost of a student's education after high school. The lender is the U.S. Department of Education, though you may deal with a different agency as your loan servicer.

The University of Aberdeen is recognised as a Foreign School by the US Department of Education and is eligible to certify loans for eligible students.

Foreign Schools are NOT eligible to certify Pell loans or grants


Most of our full-time and part-time degree programmes are eligible for Direct, Parent PLUS and Graduate PLUS loans.

Students undertaking the following courses are NOT eligible to receive Federal Direct Loans.

  • Certificate and Diploma Programmes
  • Distance Learning Programmes
  • Medicine/Dentistry Programmes
  • Programmes which have a compulsory year abroad
  • PhD students who carry out periods of research in the US
  • Courses that are taught or part taught with another institution that is not eligible or not certified to participate in the William D Ford Direct Loans (Direct Loan) programme. All worldwide eligible institutions.

If your programme of study is not eligible, you may wish to apply for private loans to cover your cost of attendance.

You are deemed to be ineligible for loans if you have defaulted on payments for loans taken out prior to your studies here.  Check the status of any previous loans on the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) which is the system we will use to check your loan history. If a default status is recorded, there is little point in proceeding with your loan application at this point. You must make arrangements to pay arrears with your loan servicer. The NSLDS system can take some time to update status changes so you may have to present evidence from your loan servicer to show that your loans are in good standing.

Types of Loans and Amounts

The amount that you are eligible to borrow in each academic year is assessed by your grade level; whether you are a dependent or independent student; and your financial need and cost of attendance.

The following loan types are offered:

  • Subsidized: for undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need as determined by USDE regulations
  • Unsubsidized: not based on financial need and both undergraduate and postgraduate students can apply
  • PLUS: graduate/professional students and parents of dependent undergraduate students can apply for the Graduate or Parent PLUS loan

Subsidized and unsubsidized loans are capped and have maximum limits.

The following chart shows the annual and aggregate limits for subsidized and unsubsidized loans.


Dependent Students (except students whose parents are unable to obtain PLUS Loans)

Independent Students (and dependent undergraduate students whose parents are unable to obtain PLUS Loans)

First-Year Undergraduate Annual Loan Limit

$5,500—No more than $3,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.

$9,500—No more than $3,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.

Second-Year Undergraduate Annual Loan Limit

$6,500—No more than $4,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.

$10,500—No more than $4,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.

Third-Year and Beyond  Undergraduate Annual Loan Limit

$7,500—No more than $5,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.

$12,500—No more than $5,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.

Graduate or Professional Students Annual Loan Limit

Not Applicable (all graduate and professional students are considered independent)

$20,500 (unsubsidized only)

Subsidized and Unsubsidized Aggregate Loan Limit

$31,000—No more than $23,000 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.

$57,500 for undergraduates—No more than $23,000 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.

$138,500 for graduate or professional students—No more than $65,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans. The graduate aggregate limit includes all federal loans received for undergraduate study.

Most postgraduate students will borrow the first $20,500 through the unsubsidized loan and top up borrowing through the PLUS loan.

How to Apply

The application process for foreign schools differs from the process for domestic schools in the US.  It is your responsibility to send us the documents we need to make your loan assessment. Please read this carefully. It will save time and inconvenience if you follow each of the steps detailed.

First time applicants wishing to apply for Federal Direct Loans should visit here to:

  • apply for your FAFSA
  • for subsidized and unsubsidized loans - complete Master Promissory Note (MPN)
  • for PLUS loans - make application and complete Master Promissory Note (MPN)*
  • complete Entrance Counselling

The University of Aberdeen School Code is G09368 (this code may also appear as 009368).

All of the following documentation has to be sent to usaloans@abdn.ac.uk in one email:

  • A PDF copy of your completed Master Promissory Note (MPN) for subsidized and unsubsidized loans
  • A PDF copy of your completed Master Promissory Note (MPN) for PLUS loans including confirmation of positive credit check (PLUS correspondence)
  • Confirmation of Entrance Counselling having been completed - screenshot or email

We can access your FAFSA Student Aid Report (SAR) electronically so there is no need for you to send this document to us. It is used to assess your eligibility so it is important that you review it to ensure you have made any corrections that are necessary.

*It is common for students to borrow their full entitlement through the Subsidized/Unsubsidized loans and then top up their borrowing with the PLUS loan, so remember to complete both MPN's.

There are 3 stages to the PLUS application process. You must:

  • Complete a Master Promissory Note
  • Request a Direct PLUS loan
  • Get confirmation of credit check

The credit check is tied in to the PLUS application process and will show as a document called PLUS correspondence. Please look at an example of the document we need to see. All documents will be saved as pdfs in the MyLoan Documents tab on the FSA portal.

These documents must be sent as pdf files in a single email to usaloans@abdn.ac.uk. There is no shortcut around this process.  We can’t assess your eligibility until we have all of your documents.

Continuing students should follow the same processes above but are not required to complete the Entrance Counselling component.

What Happens Next?

We can’t start work on your loan assessment until you have received and accepted a firm offer of admission for your programme of study.  If your offer of admission is still at the conditional stage or if you haven’t sent your acceptance, you can still send your documents and we will hold them on file until you have completed the admissions process.

If you have any questions about the admissions process contact our undergraduate or postgraduate admissions team for further information.

Assuming you have been cleared for admission, we will assess your eligibility and loan entitlement when you send in your loan documents. From June 2018 onwards, we will prepare a draft Award Letter which confirms your maximum loan entitlement and gives the dates of when disbursements will be made. We will email the Award Letter to you and ask you to confirm your acceptance of the loan amounts given or to confirm that you wish to borrow a reduced amount. When we receive your acceptance of the loan amounts, the formal Award Letter will be mailed to you and can be used as evidence of funding to support your visa application.

Origination Fees

The fees for 2019/20 loans are yet to be confirmed

Cost of Attendance

How Much Can I Borrow?

Students can borrow amounts equal to the Cost of Attendance (COA). The COA consists of 2 elements:

  • Tuition Fees
  • Living Expenses

Maximum Cost of Living Expenses 2019/20



Weekly £

No of weeks

Total Academic Year




£5,254 GBP




£1,110 GBP




£1,850 GBP

Travel Expenses



£  740 GBP

Books/Computer equipment



£  740 GBP




£2,405 GBP

Flights home (2 per year)



£2,000 GBP




£14,099 GBP



Conversion Rate


$20,444 USD

Approximate Origination Fee costs     $  1,045 USD
  Maximum Loan for Living Expenses Rounded to nearest $100 $21,500 USD




Weekly £

No of weeks

Total Academic Year




£6,500 GBP




£1,560 GBP




£2,600 GBP

Travel Expenses



£1,040 GBP

Books/Computer equipment



£1,040 GBP




£3,380 GBP           

Flights home (2 per year)



£2,000 GBP




£18,120 GBP



Conversion Rate


$26,274 USD

Approximate Origination Fee costs     $  1,045 USD
  Maximum Loan for Living Expenses Rounded to nearest $100 $27,300 USD


*Exchange rate is 1.33 at the time of compiling this table.  Regulations allow us to set theoretical exchange rate to convert GBP costs to USD values to allow for volatility in the exchange rate as the year progresses.

NB We use Western Union as our bank for processing your loan payments when the money is released by US Treasury.  Western Union will use a mid exchange rate and other banks may offer better rates. We have no plans to change our payment processing and your loans will be paid according to the rate Western Union offer on the day your loan is released.

Disbursement of Loans

Your award letter is proof that you have fully completed the loan application process. The award letter will be accepted by the visa authorities as evidence that you have the required funds to support your studies for the 2019/20 year.

We cannot request the release of your loan until you have completed both stages of the student registration process. If you have received your award letter, completed the registration process, and if there are no US Department of Education system maintenance or failures, your loan payment should be paid within 14 days of your course starting so it’s important that you have money of your own to cover expenses until your loan payment is made.

Multiple Payments

Loan payments will be paid directly to the University via Western Union and converted into UK currency (GBP). In accordance with US Department of Education regulations, your loan will then be paid to you in two or three equal instalments according to the dates on your award letter:

  • Undergraduate Students: 2 instalments - September and January
  • PG Taught Students: 3 instalments - September, January and May
  • PG Research Students: 2 instalments - October and April

Opening a UK Bank Account

If you do not already have a UK bank account, you will receive your first loan instalment as a GBP cheque.  Opening a UK bank account can take up to three weeks, and it normally takes three working days for a cheque to clear when deposited in your account. Realistically, it could take 3 to 4 weeks for you to have access to your loan payment so you should make opening a bank account a priority after you have completed registration.

Paying Tuition and Accommodation Fees

We will automatically set up a tuition fee payment plan for you, allowing you to pay your institutional charges in two or three instalments to coincide with your loan instalments. If you are living in University managed accommodation, your accommodation fees will also be included in the payment plan. You do not have to make any payments before arriving in Aberdeen, unless you are joining a Masters programme within the Business School which requires payment of a non-refundable deposit. Deposit payments must be made in advance of registration to secure the offer of your place.

Living Expenses

Once the institutional costs are covered, any excess amount from your loan payment will be refunded to you via cheque or bank transfer (provided we have your bank account details). This process is normally completed within 14 days of your programme start date.

Post Disbursement Exchange Rate

We use Western Union as our bank for processing your loan payments when the $USD value is released by the US Treasury. Western Union will use a mid-exchange rate. Other banks may offer better rates. We have no plans to change our payment processing and your loan payments will be converted to £GBP according to the rate Western Union offer on the day your payment is released.

Deferments, Repayments and 1098T Tax Information


If you have taken out Federal student loans prior to coming to Aberdeen, and if you are taking out loans in the current year, we will automatically update your enrolment details on the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to ensure that your repayments are deferred. The information we provide is shared with all of the US Department of Education's servicing agents, who are responsible for administering loan repayments.

If you are not taking out loans for your studies while you are here and need a loan deferment for previous loans, you need to email the US Loan Administrator (usaloans@abdn.ac.uk) giving your Social Security Number (SSN) and we will add your information to the NSLDS database.

We do not complete the paper In School Deferment forms.

Please note that once you have completed your period of registered or supervised study you cease to be enrolled at least half time with us. The date when your studies end is not the same as the date when you will graduate and receive your degree. If you are a doctoral student and go on to a writing up year, you will continue to be classified as enrolled at least half time and still be able to defer your loans for one further 12 month period. Your completion date will be the date that you submit your thesis.


It is your responsibility to repay your loans. When you leave your course or drop below half time study, this will be reported to NSLDS and you will enter a six-month grace period (this does not apply to PLUS loans which go into repayment immediately, but you can request a deferment).

There are a number of repayment options available and you should discuss these with your loan servicer to determine which is the most appropriate for you. If you do not select a repayment plan you will be placed on the standard plan with fixed repayments for up to ten years. You can find details of your loan servicer on the NSLDS Website.

Further details about repayment plans, including interactive calculators can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.

1098T Tax Forms & Identification Number (EIN)

As we are not classified as a US entity, the University of Aberdeen cannot complete any part of the 1098T tax form.  However, as an alternative, we can issue a receipt for fees paid which can be used as evidence of payment for tax purposes.  Contact our Payments Section (payments@abdn.ac.uk or tel 01224 272266)  to arrange this.

For US tax purposes the University of Aberdeen’s EIN is 98-0584963

Entrance and Exit Counselling

Entrance Counselling

All students who take out Direct Loans must complete entrance counselling as part of the loan application process to make sure that you understand the responsibilities and the terms and conditions of your loan.

You'll need your PIN - the same one you used for your FAFSA. If you are only taking a Direct Stafford Loan the Direct Stafford Loan entrance counselling will need to be completed. If you are also taking a PLUS Loan please complete the PLUS Loan entrance counselling.

In addition you'll need to print out the counselling confirmation and email it to us usaloans@abdn.ac.uk with your MPN’s as we require proof that the counselling session(s) have been completed.

We will not be able to proceed with your loan assessment until we have a copy of the counselling confirmation.

Exit Counselling

In accordance with USDE regulations, you must complete exit counselling when you finish your studies. This has to be done before you graduate, drop below half-time attendance, or withdraw. The counselling session will help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a student loan borrower and provides useful tips and information to help you manage your loans.

We will prompt you to complete your exit counselling just before your final loan disbursement is scheduled for payment.

You'll need your PIN - the same one you used for your FAFSA and it will take you approximately 30 minutes.

Private Loans

If your programme of study is not eligible for Federal Loans you may want to consider Private (credit-based) loans to help pay for university expenses. Even if your programme of study is eligible for Federal Loans, you may still choose to borrow through a Private Lender but it would be sensible to do a comparison between the terms and conditions before making a final decision.

You and/or your family must apply for credit-based loans directly with the lender. Applicants must meet credit and other eligibility requirements set by the individual lender. The only private lender option known to us is the Sallie Mae Student Loans. However, the university will work with any other private lender willing to lend to students who attend a foreign school.

Before taking out any credit-based loan, you should read the terms and conditions carefully before committing. You cannot borrow more than the maximum Cost of Attendance (COA) which can be found on the Cost of Attendance section of our website.

When you have submitted the on-line application and approval has been granted, you should email the US Loan Administrator (usaloans@abdn.ac.uk) to advise that your application has been approved. Provided you have completed all admission requirements, we will certify your application for payment release.

Sallie Mae loan payments are paid in one single disbursement after you have completed the 2 stage registration process.

The payment will come directly to the University for campus based students. Institutional charges will be deducted and any excess payment refunded to you for living expenses.


VA Educational Benefits

We are approved by the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to administer educational benefits to eligible students.  Most of our campus based programmes are eligible for VA funding but the VA deem our on-line and distance learning programmes to be ineligible. 


Our Facility Code is 1-1-1083-74. 


Further information about the application process can be found here:-




If you are eligible for benefits, the VA will send you a Certificate of Eligibility document.  You need to send this document to usaloans@abdn.ac.uk .  If you’ve completed the Admissions process ie received and accepted a firm offer to study with us, we can send the VA a School Certification form confirming your start and end dates and the cost of your tuition fees.  Please note that we cannot do this more than 120 days before the start of the academic year.


Tuition fee payments will be sent directly to the university by $USD cheque.   Because of the fluctuating exchange rates, your tuition fee charges will never be covered exactly.  There will always be an underpayment or overpayment.  We will ask you to pay the balance of any underpayment.  Any overpayment will be refunded to you after your final tuition fee payment is made ie if your programme runs for 3 years, any overpayment will be refunded to you after the 3rd year tuition payment has been made.


Housing/book stipends are paid directly to you and we are not involved in any way with that process.


The University does not receive advance confirmation from the VA about the level of tuition fees that they will pay but this information should be available to you.  Therefore, you must ensure in advance of registration that your VA benefits are sufficient to cover the cost of tuition fees.  You will be liable to pay the full cost of tuition fees if there is a shortfall with the VA payment.  

Satisfactory Academic Progress

The U.S. Department of Education requires institutions of higher education to establish minimum standards of satisfactory academic progress for students receiving Federal aid. Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) means the student is proceeding in a positive manner toward fulfilling degree requirements. SAP includes two standards; qualitative and quantitative. Students must meet both standards to continue receiving financial aid.

In order to maintain eligibility for financial aid with the qualitative standard, a student must maintain the academic standing necessary to proceed.


Student studies may be terminated by the University if they have not made sufficient academic progress to warrant continuance of study. Students who fail to maintain sufficient academic progress may be required to discontinue study. This procedure sets out the process for appeals against exclusion.

Students who are re-admitted to the program may be issued a one-time waiver to continue receiving financial aid. The details are specified below.


Credit requirements and degree durations are specified in the Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study:

Scheduled awards for the next academic year for students who are not making Satisfactory Academic Progress will be cancelled.

Financial aid will be disbursed on the first day of each semester. Students who withdraw after that will have their eligibility to retain part of their financial aid calculated on the percentage of the semester attended. Students who attend more than 60% of the term may retain all of their aid. See the section on Return to Title IV (R2T4).

Consumer Disclosure Information
Default Management Plan

This default management plan contains some of the strategies used by the University of Aberdeen 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

A copy of the Entrance Counselling is retained in the student file.

2. Early Identification and Counselling for Students At Risk of Progression/Withdrawal

The University is responsible for monitoring borrowers who are at risk of non-progression or withdrawing and doe counselling students according to circumstances with a view to retaining those students.

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 office that disburses funds and authorise payments. Up to date contact information for both the student and next of kin is obtained from students at enrolment.

4. Exit Counselling

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

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

5. Timely and Accurate Enrolment Reporting

As a condition of our eligibility to certify Direct Loans, we are required to submit accurate enrolment updates to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) at regular intervals throughout the year.

6. Analyse Defaulted Loan Data to Identify Defaulter Characteristics

Defaulted loan data is monitored to identify defaulting borrowers and to analyse reasons the reasons for defaulting. We use this information to improve default prevention and management practices and initiatives. Internal data includes key information such as school attended, program of study, demographics, grades, etc. The Loan Record Detail Report (LRDR) is reviewed to determine if there are common characteristics among defaulters.

We 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.

7. Where do I begin?

FSA Assessments for Default Prevention and Management

8. Loan Counselling

9. Enrolment Reporting and Data Accuracy

10. Default Prevention

or contact your Loan Servicer

11. General Connections/Publications

Return to Title IV Policy

United States Department of Education

Return to Title IV (R2T4) Regulations

The law specifies how the University must determine the amount of Title IV program assistance (Direct/PLUS Loans) that students earn if they withdraw or interrupt midway through the academic year. The US Loan Administrator is responsible for calculating R2T4 by using worksheets provided by the US Department of Education.  The Finance Section is responsible for transferring the funds. All funds must be returned to the lender within 45 days of the date of when the University determined that a student withdrew/interrupted. If you have questions about your Title IV program funds, students can call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FEDAID (1-800-433-3243). TTY users may call 1-800-730-8913.

When a student withdraws or is deemed to have withdrawn during a payment period, the amount of Title IV program assistance that has been earned up to that point is determined by a specific formula. The date of withdrawal can be determined by the Student/School or Supervisor and will be the last day the student attended. If the student received (or the University received on the student’s behalf) less assistance than the amount that is earned, the student may be able to receive those additional funds. If the student received more assistance than was earned, the excess funds must be returned by the University and/or the student. The University is not required to take attendance although most will be required to attend in order to receive a passing grade. Students who are not in attendance are reported to Student Services, who will consult with the student’s Department/School to determine if the student attended classes or to verify the last date of attendance. The University will use the last date of attendance to compute the R2T4 formula.

In the case where a student notifies the Personal Tutor/Programme Director or a member of staff that he or she intends to withdraw, the student must be informed of the need to submit a formal withdrawal form, citing the reason for withdrawal in writing and the effective date. Should the student fail to write or there is a lag between the notification and the student’s written confirmation, the earlier date of notification will be used in calculating the R2T4 formula. In the event a student receives all failing grades for a semester, the Personal Tutor/Programme Director will contact academic staff to determine if the failing grades were earned or represent a lack of attendance. In the event it is determined that those grades were the result of lack of attendance, the Personal Tutor/Programme Director will attempt to determine the last day of attendance and use that date in the R2T4 calculations. If the exact date cannot be determined, the University will assume a 50% attendance, and use that date as the last date of attendance. Students who do not attend even one class, are ineligible for Title IV funds and all of the loan proceeds will be returned to the lender.

The amount of assistance earned is determined on a pro rata basis. The payment period is the semester for which the loan was certified and the per cent of attendance is calculated by dividing the number of days attended by the total number of days in the payment period. If the student has completed 60% or more of the payment period or period of enrolment, all the assistance that the student was scheduled to receive for that period is considered to have been earned. If the student did not receive all of the funds that were earned, he or she may be due a post-withdrawal disbursement. If the post-withdrawal disbursement includes loan funds, the student may choose to decline the loan funds so that additional debt is not incurred.  If, for example, if the student completes 30% of the payment period or period of enrolment, the student has earned 30% of the assistance they were originally scheduled to receive.  The US Loan Administrator will use the R2T4 worksheets as provided by the US Department of Education to determine how much of the loan may be retained and how much must be returned.  Future dated loans due for disbursement will be cancelled.

The University may automatically use all or a portion of your post-withdrawal disbursement (including loan funds, if the student accepts them) for tuition, fees, and accommodation. For all other University charges, the University needs the student's permission to use the post-withdrawal disbursement. If the student does not give permission the student will not be offered the funds.

There are some Title IV funds that students are scheduled to receive that cannot be earned once a student withdraws because of other eligibility requirements.  If the student receives (or the University receives on behalf of the student) excess Title IV program funds that must be returned, the University must return a portion of the excess equal to the lesser of:

  • The institutional charges multiplied by the unearned percentage of the funds, or
  • The entire amount of excess funds.

The University must return this amount even if it didn't keep this amount of the Title IV program funds. If the University is not required to return all of the excess funds, the student must return the remaining amount. Any loan funds that must be returned, the student must repay in accordance with the terms of the promissory note. That is, scheduled payments are made to the holder of the loan over a period of time. Students who have received a refund of their loan proceeds before withdrawing may be required to return part or all of those funds to the lender.

Title IV funds will be returned in the following order:

  1. Unsubsidized Federal Direct loans
  2. Subsidized Federal Direct loans
  3. PLUS Loan Funds

The requirements for Title IV program funds when students withdraw are separate from any refund policy that the University may have. Therefore, the student may still owe funds to the University to cover unpaid institutional charges. The University may also attempt to collect from the student any Title IV program funds that the University was required to return.

If you have questions about your Title IV program funds, you can call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FEDAID (1-800-433-3243). TTY users may call 1-800-730-8913. Information is also available on Student Aid on the Web.

Leave of Absence

A student may take a leave of absence during their period of study, provided the leave is formally requested and approved, the reason for the request is stated and the leave of no more than 180 days’ duration in a 12-month period. There must be a reasonable expectation that the student will return from the period of absence. The leave of absence withdrawal date is the last date of attendance. Leave of absence students retain ‘in-school’ status. Students must be warned about the effects on their loans repayment grace period if they do not return from the leave of absence.