Female student seated next to male student reading a book

American Loans Scheme

Loans available to students from the USA

If you're an American national or permanently resident in the US, you can apply for a US Federal Loan if you've accepted an offer to study here.

We're an eligible Federal Loan institution and our school code is G21159.

Direct loans for American students

The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program offers low-interest direct loans to eligible students to help cover costs while studying in the UK.

If you're eligible, you'll borrow directly from the US Department of Education. You can choose from the following types of loan.

Subsidised Loan

If you're an undergraduate student with financial need, you can apply for a subsidised loan. We'll review the results of your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and determine the amount you can borrow.

You're not charged interest while you're in school at least half-time and during grace periods and deferment periods. The US Department of Education pays the interest during these times.

Unsubsidised Loan

If you're an undergraduate or postgraduate student, you can access this loan without demonstrating financial need. We'll determine the amount you can borrow.

Interest accrues (accumulates) on an unsubsidised loan from the time it’s first paid out. You can pay the interest while you're at University and during grace periods and deferment or forbearance periods, or you can allow it to accrue and be capitalised (that is, added to the principal amount of your loan). If you choose not to pay the interest as it accrues, this will increase the total amount you repay because you'll be charged interest on a higher principal amount.

Parent PLUS Loan

If you're a parent of a dependent undergraduate student, you may be eligible for this loan to help pay your child's education expenses. If your parents aren't eligible for a PLUS loan, you may be eligible for additional unsubsidised loans. Interest is charged during all periods.

Grad PLUS Loan

If you're a postgraduate student, you can apply for this unsubsidised loan to help cover your education expenses. Interest is charged during all periods.

You won't be eligible for any of the above loans if you study on the following types of course:

  • Non-degree courses, such as CertED, CertHE and HND
  • Distance learning courses
  • Part-time courses
  • Courses with a taught element offered at a site not operated by the University of Portsmouth
  • Courses with a compulsory study abroad or placement year – if the course has an optional study abroad or placement year, you can still be eligible but you won't be able to undertake the study abroad or placement year

How to apply

To apply for one of these direct loans:

  1. Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This will generate the essential Student Aid Report.
  2. Using your unique PIN, log on the Federal Student Aid Student Loans site and complete the Entrance counselling, a tool to ensure you understand your obligation to repay the loan. This process takes about 30 minutes.
  3. Using your unique PIN, log on the Federal Student Aid Student Loans site and sign the Master Promissory Note (MPN), agreeing to the terms of the loan. This process takes about 30 minutes .
  4. Email directloan@port.ac.uk to tell us you want to participate in the Direct Loan Programme. If possible, also let us know how much you want to borrow.

If you want to join us for the 2020/21 academic year, you can apply for federal aid between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2021, but we recommend you apply as soon as you can. You'll need to apply for these loans on an annual basis.

If we receive your application within a month of your course start date, we can't guarantee to process it in time for the start of the course or to provide the required documentation for your visa.

Loan amounts

See below for the amount you can borrow each year for each type of loan, plus the total aggregate limit, and any loan fee and interest rates for each loan. These are correct as of 3 June 2020. Please Note: the 2020/21 interest rates are yet to be confirmed by the U.S Department of Education.  We will update this table as soon as they become available. 

Direct Loans

The details for the loan differ whether you're classified as a dependent or independent, and on what kind of course you're studying. Find out more at the Federal Student Aid site

If you're on an undergraduate course as a dependent, the following details apply. 

Year Sub loan  Unsub loan  Combined loan total  Aggregate limits  Loan fee  Interest 
1 $3,500  $2,000 $5,500  Sub: $23,000, Combined: $31,000 1.059%  4.53% 
2 $4,500  $2,000 $6,500  Sub: $23,000, Combined: $31,000  1.059%  4.53% 
3+ $5,500  $2,000  $7,500 Sub: $23,000, Combined: $31,000  1.059%  4.53% 


If you're on an undergraduate course as an independent, the following details apply. 

Year Sub loan  Unsub loan  Combined loan total  Aggregate limits  Loan fee  Interest 
1 $3,500  $6,000 $9,500  Sub: $23,000, Combined: $57,500 1.059%  4.53% 
2 $4,500  $6,000 $10,500  Sub: $23,000, Combined: $57,500 1.059%  4.53% 
3+ $5,500  $7,000  $12,500 Sub: $23,000, Combined: $57,500 1.059%  4.53% 


If you're a graduate or a professional, the following details apply. 

Year Sub loan  Unsub loan  Combined loan total  Aggregate limits  Loan fee  Interest 
Any Not applicable $20,500 $20,500 Sub: $65,000*, Combined: $138,500 1.059%  6.08% 

*The graduate aggregate limit includes all federal loans received for undergraduate study. 

Direct PLUS Loans

Year Sub loan  Loan limits Loan fee  Interest 
Any Not applicable Cost of attendance (determined by the school) minus any other financial aid 4.236%  7.08% 

**Parent/Grad PLUS Loans are meant to cover any remaining costs of attendance you have, up to the cost of attendance set by the University. Private loans are also available for this reason.

Cost of attendance

For living costs, we recommend you allow £14,689 per academic year for undergraduate course and £18,771 per academic year for a postgraduate course. This includes your accommodation, course materials, bills, leisure and travel costs and is based on 39 weeks of study for an undergraduate course and 52 weeks of study for a postgraduate course.

These costs don't include your tuition fees – check your course page for details of your tuition fees.

Receiving the loan

We request loans are paid in 3 instalments in accordance with US laws. The first payment will be requested to be available when you have registered for the start of the relevant academic year. The later instalments will be available at the start of each study period in January and April. If you apply late, your first instalment may not be available for the start of the year.

You'll need to complete Entrance Counselling to receive the first payment and Exit Counselling to receive the last.


If you've received a direct loan, you'll start repaying this after you graduate, leave university, or drop below half-time enrolment. You'll have a 6-month grace period before you need to begin payment.

If you've received a Direct Plus loan, this will enter repayment once you've received it.

If your parents have applied for a Parent PLUS Loan, they can contact their loan servicer to request a deferment while you're enrolled at least half time and for an additional 6 months after you cease to be enrolled at least half time.

If you've received a Grad Plus loan, your loan will be placed into deferment while you're enrolled at least half time and for an additional 6 months after you cease to be enrolled at least half time.

If your loan is deferred, interest will accrue on the loan during the deferment. You may choose to pay the accrued interest or allow the interest to capitalise when the deferment period ends.

See full details of repayment plans

Remaining eligible for federal aid

You'll need to meet certain criteria to make sure you remain eligible to continue receiving federal aid.

Firstly, you must remain in Portsmouth for the full duration of your course (excluding vacations), including any dissertation period. Any interruption in studies or short term leave of absence must be approved by the Direct Loan Team prior to any change in your registration status being permitted.

You'll also need to continue to meet basic eligibility criteria as listed on the Federal Student Aid website.

You must also progress satisfactorily towards completion of your chosen academic programme. We classify satisfactory academic progress as a minimum of 40% pass, but exceptions may apply to some courses, including those with accreditation. This progress will be checked before any loan funds are released to you.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is specific for the year you are applying for aid, so you must complete a new FAFSA for each year of study.

See full details on eligibility

Changes to your study

If you want to suspend your studies or take a leave of absence, you're entitled to do so if this is approved by the head of your department or school. However, leaves of absence must not exceed a total of 180 days in any 12-month period including days the University is not in session, together with any additional leave of absence. Contact us to discuss this.

If you withdraw at any time, your fees will be calculated according to payment liability periods in accordance with the University’s tuition fee policy.

If you withdraw within the first 60% of any study period (payment liability period), we'll return any unearned aid funds to the Department of Education in accordance with their repayment policy on withdrawals and suspensions.

Any ‘unearned’ aid (i.e. any funds you aren't entitled to, due to an early withdrawal) will be deducted from any possible refund that would have been paid to you in accordance with the University’s refund policy. Should the ‘unearned’ aid amount be more than you were due to be refunded, this could result in additional costs being charged to you.

Please note the US Department of Education’s repayment policy on withdrawals and suspensions differs from the University’s tuition fee policy. Both policies will be taken into account should you withdraw.

Private loans

You can also apply for a private loan to help cover the remainder of your cost of attendance. You should do your own research to find loan providers. We believe that the only lender working with schools outside of the USA is the Smart Loan from Sallie Mae.

Once you've applied online, please send a signed self-certification form to the lender, and your e-signed Promissory Note to directloan@port.ac.uk, so we can approve the loan if applicable.

Contact details

If you have further enquiries regarding the Direct Loan Program, please contact Student Administration Services at directloan@port.ac.uk or on +44 (0)23 9284 3429 or +44 (0)23 9284 3492.

Please note: If you'll be receiving loan funds to cover your living expenses, remember you won't receive your first payment until around the first day of the start of your course. You must make sure you have enough money from when you arrive in the UK until this date.

Consumer information

Explore all the key pieces of consumer information relating to the US loans scheme in the table below.

Key information

The University expects any of its employees who have responsibilities with respect to U.S. loans to abide by a code of conduct, which prohibits:

  • revenue-sharing arrangements with any lender; 
  • receiving gifts from a lender, a guarantor, or a loan servicer;
  • contracting arrangements providing financial benefit from any lender or affiliate of a lender; 
  • directing borrowers to particular lenders* or refusing or delaying loan certifications; 
  • offers of funds for private loans; 
  • call centre or financial aid office staffing assistance; and
  • advisory board compensation.

* If you are applying for a private U.S. student loan the University will work with, in most cases, whichever private lender you decide to use, if they are willing to work with us.  Please note that we are only aware of one lender currently offering such loans, which is Sallie Mae.  Sallie Mae is not a preferred lender and this does not represent a preferred lender arrangement.

Information on the University’s completion/graduation and transfer-out rates is available from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

The University’s Copyright Code aims to inform all members of the University staff and students of acceptable use of third party copyright materials. 

For information on crime rates in the local area please refer to POLICE.UK.

The University’s Data Protection Statement for students explains how the personal – and sensitive personal data collected by the University may be used, including some examples of processing.

In the UK, the power to award degrees is regulated by law and the Privy Council is responsible for the granting of degree awarding powers and University titles.  The University’s power to award degrees derives from Section 214 of the Education Reform Act 1988.  The University of Portsmouth is one of the degree-awarding bodies recognised under that Act.  For the current list of recognised bodies please refer to GOV.UK.

The University seeks to protect students against the risks arising from substance misuse. For further information please refer to the University’s Student Drugs and Alcohol Policy.

The University actively seeks to create and maintain an environment safe from the risks of fire – in compliance with all relevant legislation, including

For further information, please email the Health & Safety team at hsservicedesk@port.ac.uk.

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 ("the Act") gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities.  For further information please refer to our Freedom of Information pages.

For information on annual loan amounts, loan terms, and sample repayment schedules, please refer to the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website.

The University’s Major Incident Action Plan defines the procedures to be followed by staff and students when confronted by a serious incident such as the disappearance of a student.

If a Direct Loan is taken out by a student at the University we will submit the details to the National Student Loan Database System (NSLDS),and this data will be accessible to guarantee agencies, lenders and schools determined to be authorised users of the data system.  For further information on the National Student Loan Database System please refer to NSLDS.

The HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey is available from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). The timeframes and methodology associated with this survey are also explained on this website.

For undergraduate courses, you can also view useful statistics from the HESA survey and National Student Survey via the Key Information Sets available through Unistats.

Information on the University’s retention rate is available from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)

The University’s Safeguarding Policy: Children and Vulnerable Adults policy seeks to support activities involving children, young people, and vulnerable adults, and to offer assurances to both staff, students, volunteers and visitors that, through its implementation, the University seeks to protect them and to keep them safe from harm when in contact with University students and staff.

Students have an obligation of Satisfactory Academic Progression (SAP) within the Federal Aid program – for further information, please email directloan@port.ac.uk.

The University is committed to promoting equal opportunities for all students.  No student will be excluded from entry to any programme as a result of discrimination on the grounds of disability.  For information on services and facilities for students with disabilities, please refer to our support for disabled students page.

The University is committed to delivering a high-quality student experience that aims to meet and exceed student expectations.  For further information please refer to the University’s Student Charter page.

The University’s Code of Student Behaviour outlines acceptable behaviour of students of the University, both on and off campus, in order to secure the proper working of the University.

Ensuring an excellent student experience is one of the headline aims of the University.  A major part of that experience relates to how we communicate to and with our students.  For further information please refer to the University’s Student Voice Policy.

The Student Complaint procedure explains both the University’s internal informal and formal mechanisms, and the external independent Ombudsman’s procedure, for the resolution of complaints.

Information about any required and recommended textbooks for your course will be provided to you by your department.  Should you require specific information about textbooks, please contact the relevant department for advice.

For information regarding student health and well-being, including vaccination information, please email wellbeing-admin@port.ac.uk.

Withdrawals and Interruptions

If a student who receives Title IV funding withdraws, interrupts for more than 180 days, or drops below half time attendance the University will follow the requirements of returning funds laid down by the US Department of Education. This will be applied alongside the University policies. The Direct Loan Team will use an RT24 (return of funds calculator provided by the US Department of Education) to determine how much of the loan may be retained and how much must be returned.

Information on withdrawing or interrupting from the University of Portsmouth can be found online by viewing our Tuition Fee Policy or by emailing cosforms@port.ac.uk, who can offer advice on the financial implications of a change in your status.

Return of Funds by the University

A student ‘earns’ aid on a daily basis and therefore if a student withdraws or interrupts any ‘unearned’ aid for that payment period will need to be returned to the US Department of Education. Once the amount the University and the student needs to return has been calculated, the University will return funds to the US Department of Education and notify the student if they need to return any funds themselves.

Loans are returned in the following order:

  1. Unsubsidised Stafford
  2. Subsidised Stafford
  3. PLUS (Graduate or Parent)

There are some Title IV funds, that students may have been scheduled to receive, that cannot be earned once a student withdraws because of other eligibility requirements. For example, a first year undergraduate, receiving Aid for the first time, who withdraws within the first 30 days of a programme, will be deemed not to have earned any aid. As this policy uses a different calculation to University policies, it may mean that the student owes the University once funds have been returned to the US Department of Education. Students will be notified if this is the case.

Return of Funds by Student

If the student is notified that there are loan funds that must be returned (by the student) the student should repay in accordance with the terms of the promissory note. That is, scheduled payments are made to the US Department of Education 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 US Department of Education.

Approved Leave of Absence

If a student interrupts it is important that they contact the Direct Loan Team in order for the correct loan status to be determined. An approved interruption can last for 180 days before a student goes into repayment or has to return funds. If the student does not return after 180 days the last date of actual attendance will be used to calculate the ‘earned’ loan amount and the date a student enters repayment.

If you have any questions regarding the guidance above, please email directloan@port.ac.uk quoting RT24 Query in the email subject field.

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