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Financial aid for the United States

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak we want to ensure the welfare of our staff and students. Our staff won't be able to attend international exhibitions or events at this time but you can still get in touch.

If you are a US citizen, you may be eligible to apply for loans to study in the UK.

You may find that the UK process is very different to previous applications made at US institutions. Our team is here to help you, so please contact us if you need any advice or guidance.

Direct loans or private loans

  • Direct loan - Subsidised Stafford (undergraduate students only)
  • Direct loan - Unsubsidised Stafford
  • Direct loan - PLUS loans (Graduate PLUS loans or Parent loans for dependant undergraduate students)
  • Private loans (for example Sallie Mae)

If you are a graduate you can apply for a PLUS loan in your own right.

If you are an undergraduate student, you cannot apply for the PLUS loan, but your parents can apply on your behalf. PLUS loans are credit-based.

Eligibility and what they cover

Federal loans can usually cover the total cost of fees and living expenses for the duration of your studies. Origination and default fees will be deducted from your gross loan award, and the fees for the Direct PLUS loan can be taken into consideration when requesting how much to borrow.

Download guidance for undergraduate students.

Download guidance for graduate students.

Download the 'Course Eligibility for Federal Aid' document.

Apply now

Apply now through the Federal Student Aid website

Receiving, amending or repaying your loan

Before each disbursement, the University is required to confirm you are still eligible to receive the funds. This includes ensuring you are meeting the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy and are studying at least half time and you are not conducting any study or research in the US.

Disbursements of federal loans will be made by Cardiff University in three equal instalments. The actual amount in GBP (£) for each instalment may vary, as it will be dependent upon the exchange rate used to convert USD($) to GBP(£) on that date.

Federal loans must be allocated to any tuition or accommodation fees due first as stated in the US Department of Education regulations before any excess is issued to you.

Within three working days of receiving the disbursement, we will credit your tuition fee account and University accommodation account (if applicable). Excess funds will be paid directly to your UK bank account within 10 business days so that you can use these funds for living expenses.

A minimum of two weeks' notice is required prior to the next disbursement date in order to action a change to your loan with effect from that disbursement.

Increasing your loan

If you wish to increase your loan, the total amount borrowed cannot exceed your loan eligibility as calculated on your cost of attendance, unless there are special circumstances where essential costs need to be included and/or you have your dependent children with you. You will be asked for proof of your adjusted costs.

Contact us with your request, advising of your new requested amount for your loans and a brief explanation of the changes you would like made. If the increase is approved, the additional funds will be spread across your remaining disbursements for the year.

Please note that if you have an endorser on your PLUS loan, you will only be able to increase the loan up to the endorsed amount. If your endorser is willing to increase the endorsed amount to allow you to borrow a higher PLUS loan, please email us to advise. Your endorser will have to complete a new application.

Decrease or cancel your loan

If you wish to decrease your loan before a disbursement, please contact us with your request, advising of your new requested amount for your loans and a brief explanation of the changes you would like made.

You should reduce the amount you are borrowing on your PLUS loan first as this is the most expensive loan.  The reduction will be spread across your remaining disbursements.

If you wish to cancel your loan, please email us with your request.

We will email you before each disbursement with details on the deadline for returning funds through the University. However, please do not wait for this email if you already know that you wish to decrease or cancel your loans, as you may need to pay fees and bank charges associated with returning the funds if the payment has already been requested.

If you wish to cancel your loan and the time frame for doing so through the University has passed, you can still make a repayment directly to your lender. Your lender's details can be found on the National Student Loan Data System.

If you make a repayment within 120 days of loan disbursement, then your lender will treat this as a partial or full cancellation, with the appropriate adjustment of the loan fee and interest.

Any student who cancels their loan after receiving a disbursement will be required to complete exit counselling via Student Aid.

Any student who cancels their loan after the funds have been requested from the US may be required to pay fees or bank charges associated with returning the funds to the US.

If you withdraw from your course, suspend your studies, drop below half-time enrolment, or otherwise become ineligible for US federal loans, you must email us immediately.

Do not wait for the change to be approved by your School before contacting us.

Under US federal law, the University is required to report any changes to your enrolment within tight timescales and, if necessary, to complete a Return to Title IV (R2T4) calculation and arrange for any 'unearned' loan funds to be returned to the US Department of Education. You may also have to return unearned funds and we will provide advice on this.

Full information is available in our R2T4 Policy but the key facts are:

  • the Title IV Federal Aid Officer will calculate the amount of Title IV program assistance that has been earned, using a formula provided by the US Department of Education.
  • once you have completed more than 60% of the payment period, all the assistance that you were scheduled to receive for that period is considered to have been earned. As an example, if you complete 30% of the payment period, you have earned 30% of the assistance you were originally scheduled to receive within that loan period. If you have completed 60% of the payment period, you have earned 100% of the assistance you were scheduled to receive.
  • if you received more assistance than was earned, the excess funds must be returned to the US Department of Education by you and/or the University. If you received (or the University received on your behalf) less assistance than the amount earned, you may be able to receive those additional funds as a post-withdrawal disbursement.

Repaying your loan

You will arrange repayment directly through your loan servicer. You can check who your loan servicer is on the NSLDS Student database. You should always keep in contact with your loan servicer to make sure that you are up-to-date with loan repayment information.

It is your responsibility to:

  • notify your loan servicer of anything that affects your ability to repay your loan
  • notify your loan servicer of any changes in your status, including graduation, and any changes to your name, address, or telephone number
  • notify your loan servicer if you fail to enrol for the period covered by your loan
  • notify your loan servicer and University of any change in your address

You can also make an early repayment directly to your loan servicer. If you make a repayment within 120 days of loan disbursement, then your lender will treat this as a partial or full cancellation, with the appropriate adjustment of the loan fee and interest.

You may also find the Federal Student Aid website useful.

Repayment responsibilities

It is important that you understand the responsibilities and obligations associated with a student loan. It is also a US Department of Education requirement that you undertake entrance and exit counselling (accessed at Student Aid) at the start and end of the study period for which you receive loans. The counselling informs you about loan repayment, money management, your responsibilities as a borrower and it outlines the terms and conditions of your loan. The US Loan Officer will request that you complete exit counselling towards the end of each loan year, or if you withdraw, suspend or cancel your loans.

Exit counselling will be required shortly before you complete your studies.

Your student loan must be repaid – you will risk going into default if you do not make your loan payments as required by your loan servicer.

Return of Title IV funds

The requirements for Title IV program funds when you withdraw are separate from Cardiff University’s refund policy. Therefore, you may still owe funds to the University to cover unpaid institutional charges. The University may attempt to collect any Title IV program funds from you that the University is required to return.

Under specific conditions, a leave of absence (LOA, or suspension of studies) for less than 180 days in a 12-month period may qualify as an 'approved' leave of absence. If you are granted an 'approved' LOA, you are not considered to have withdrawn, and no Return calculation is required. During the LOA, the University will not charge you any additional institutional charges, your financial need will not increase, and therefore, you will not be eligible for any disbursements of federal student aid. If you are granted an approved LOA, you will maintain in-school status for Title IV loan repayment purposes.

If you do not attend even initial lectures or seminars you are ineligible to receive any Title IV funds and all loan proceeds will be returned to the US Department of Education. You will be liable for any fees or outstanding balances owed to the college or University.

Free student aid services

Federal student aid services offered by the Department of Education and its student loan services are free.

Such services include:

  • consolidating federal student loans
  • changing repayment plans
  • resolving defaults
  • filing requests for borrower defence loan cancellation
  • other benefits and services that students are entitled to receive at no charge.

Avoid debt relief companies

Please be aware of so-called debt relief companies. These debt relief companies may utilise sophisticated strategies to target unsuspecting borrowers and inappropriately use the Department of Education’s logo or other identifying information to give the impression that they are working with or for the US Government.

These companies may also state or imply that the company is working with a post-secondary institution to provide benefits to student loan borrowers, so please be extra vigilant, as students do not need to pay for loan benefits for federal student loans.

There are four warning signs of third-party debt relief companies that student loan borrowers should avoid, including:

  • pressure to pay high upfront fees
  • promises of immediate loan forgiveness or debt cancellation
  • demands that you sign a ‘third party authorisation’
  • requests for a student’s Federal Student Aid PIN or FSA ID.

US Government Federal Family Education Loan Programme

We are a participating institution in the US Government Federal Family Education Loan Programme (FFELP). US students seeking Federal Stafford Loans for overseas study can study here.

Our Federal School Code is G10157 and the OPE ID code is 01015700. The code number used depends on the application form.

How to apply

Follow these steps to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for student financial aid:

If you meet the eligibility criteria, and you wish to apply for US Federal Loans to study at Cardiff University, you should complete a FAFSA application. You will need to create an FSA ID and password to complete your FAFSA.

If you are a continuing loan student, complete a renewal FAFSA (you will only be required to indicate any information that has changed since last year).

You can complete your FAFSA now.  It is your responsibility to ensure that you submit a complete loan application in good time to meet Cardiff University’s tuition fee (and accommodation fee if relevant) payment deadlines.

Although you can complete your FAFSA at any time when applications are open, please note that we will not start processing your loan application until June and we cannot certify any US Loans on the US systems until June/July. If you are a new student, please only start the application process once you have received an offer from Cardiff University.

You will need to include Cardiff University’s School Federal Direct Loan Code G10157 on your FAFSA.

Once you have completed your FAFSA, this will produce a Student Aid Report (SAR) and this will be used by the University to determine your loan eligibility.

We are not automatically notified when a student has selected our institution on their FAFSA. Therefore, once you have completed steps 1 to 4, please email us to let us know you are awaiting a Cost of Attendance.

From June onwards, we will email you a Cost of Attendance to inform you of the amount of loan you can borrow and the types of loans you can borrow.

Once you have received your Cost of Attendance, please confirm the types and amounts of loans you would like to borrow by completing the Award Letter and returning it to us by email.

You must complete entrance counselling if you have not previously completed Entrance Counselling for the type of loan you wish to borrow. If you have previously completed Entrance Counselling for the type of federal student loan you wish to borrow whilst at Cardiff University, you may by-pass this step.

Use the University school code G10157.

Undergraduates: Complete an MPN for the Subsidised and Unsubsidised loans, and, if applicable, your parent should complete a separate MPN for the Parent PLUS loan.

Graduates: Complete one MPN for the Unsubsidised loan and one for the Grad PLUS loan.

MPNs are completed on the Student Aid website.

Use the University school code G10157.

As we are a foreign school, new MPNs must be completed for each year of study.
Once approved by the system, we will be able to view MPNs, so you do not need to send us copies.

If you are intending to apply for a PLUS loan, or your parent will be applying for a Parent PLUS loan, you, or the parent, will need to complete the Apply for a PLUS Loan section. This should automatically trigger a Credit Check. Once approved by the system, we will be able to view the Credit Check, so you do not need to send us a copy.

Use the University school code G10157 on your PLUS loan request.

Once all the above has been completed, we will be able to create and confirm your loans.

Once the above steps have been completed, the University will originate your loan on the US systems, and you will receive a notification letter from us outlining the number of loans you will receive, your disbursement dates, and the period/academic year your loan relates to.

The wording and format of this letter have been agreed with UK Visas and Immigration as acceptable proof of funding for visa applications.

This loan notification letter will be emailed to you.  This is acceptable for the purpose of obtaining your visa.

Please note, that you will only be able to apply for your Student Visa from UKVI, up to 90 days before the start date of your course.

Download forms and documents

Return of Title IV Funds R2T4

This policy applies if you withdraw from study before earning 60% of Title IV Federal Financial Aid.

Satisfactory academic progress requirements

The standards US students must meet in order to be eligible to receive Federal Student Aid.

Meeting academic requirements

The Satisfactory Academic Progress policy applies to all students taking federal loans (also known as financial aid) at Cardiff University, specifically Direct Subsidised, Direct Unsubsidised, GRAD Plus and Parent Plus loans.

Please read the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy for full details of the SAP process and the procedures to be followed if a student fails to meet SAP requirements.

Veterans Affairs Funding

We are currently unable to accept Veteran Affairs Benefits from prospective students unless your course of study is listed below:

  • Ancient History & History
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Clinical Dermatology
  • Conservation Practice
  • Creative and Critical Writing
  • Education
  • Engineering with Foundation Year
  • Global Ecology and Conservation
  • International Public Relations and Global Communications
  • International Relations
  • Marine Geography
  • Media Journalism and Culture
  • Modern Languages & Translation
  • Neuroimaging; Methods and Applications
  • Neuroscience
  • Spatial Planning and Development

Please contact Helen Richards at USFederalLoans@cardiff.ac.uk for further information.


It is recommended that US students applying for Federal Direct Loans consider finalising their loan arrangements before applying for their Student Visa to ensure that correct and up-to-date financial information is submitted to the visa authorities.

Please ensure that you leave sufficient time for processing both your loan and visa. If you have any queries, please contact us at USFederalLoans@cardiff.ac.uk

Find out more

If you'd like to find out more about transferring loans outside the USA, please read the Federal Student Aid guidance.

Full information about the loan process can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.

You can also contact us:

US Funding Advice

Student Life

+44 (0)29 2251 8888

You can also arrange to see one of the team by contacting the email address above.  We are located in the Centre for Student Life on Park Place.