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Home > Study here > Postgraduate > Fees and funding > North American loans
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North American loans

If you're a US citizen or eligible non-citizen and have accepted an unconditional offer of a place at Royal Holloway, University of London you may be eligible to borrow US Federal Loans. Royal Holloway participates in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. Our federal school code is G09086.


The information provided here is accurate to the best of our knowledge. However, US Department of Education regulations are subject to change and Royal Holloway cannot be held responsible for any changes that may adversely affect your eligibility for federal loans.

Please email us when you have submitted your FAFSA as we are not automatically informed.

Loan eligibility

Please note if you will be coming to Royal Holloway as a Study Abroad student, you need to process your loan application through your home university in the US.

Your loan eligibility will be assessed in the first instance by checking if you meet all of the criteria on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid ( FAFSA).

Only degree programmes offered at Royal Holloway are eligible for funding by federal loans, provided the programme isn't offered fully or in part by distance learning. The MA in Screenwriting for Television and Film (in retreat) option is not eligible, as it is offered in part by distance learning.

Masters and doctoral students enrolling at foreign schools won't be eligible for federal loans if any of their research or work on their dissertation or thesis will be conducted in the US, according to federal regulations.

If a degree programme is offered jointly by a partner institution that hasn't been approved for participation in the Direct Loan Programme, the whole programme is deemed to be ineligible.

A private loan may be an option in these situations (see available loans). 

Available loans

Federal loans interest rates 

Stafford Subsidised

Fixed annual limit, based on financial need

Non credit-based

Undergraduates only 

*Federal government pays interest whilst borrower is in school, provided borrower hasn't exceeded their maximum eligibility period

**Interest fixed at 4.45% for loans first disbursed on or after 1 July 2017 and before 1 July 2018

Stafford Unsubsidised

Fixed annual limit

Non credit-based

Undergraduates and postgraduates 

Borrower pays all interest

**Undergraduates: Interest fixed at 4.45% for loans first disbursed on or after 1 July 2017 and before 1 July 2018

**Postgraduates: Interest fixed at 6.00% for loans first disbursed on or after 1 July 2017 and before 1 July 2018

***PLUS Loan

Borrowed on top of Stafford loans to cover the remainder of the Cost of Attendance


Postgraduates and parents of dependent undergraduates 

Borrower pays all interest

**Interest fixed at 7.00% per cent for loans first disbursed on or after 1 July 2017 and 1 July 2018

* From 1 July 2013 first time undergraduate borrowers may not receive subsidised Stafford loans for more than 150 per cent of the published timeframe of their programme, and the student becomes responsible for paying the interest after meeting the 150 per cent limit. The new rules are summarised here.

** For interest rates on loans first disbursed before 1 July 2014, please refer to the NSLDS website.

***Independent undergraduates and dependent undergraduates where the parent is denied a Parent PLUS loan are not eligible for a PLUS loan. They would qualify for the higher Stafford unsubsidised loan amount. Any shortfall in funding would have to be covered by a private loan. Further information is available on the  Federal Student Aid website.

Please note: Perkins loans and federal grants aren't available for study at foreign schools.

Private loans

Private loans may provide an alternative means of funding if you cannot cover your entire study and living costs with federal loans or  you don't qualify for federal loans. Federal loans have more favourable terms and conditions and tend to be cheaper than private loans, therefore it is advisable to borrow federal loans first, wherever possible. We have to certify private loan applications and the amount you borrow may not exceed your Cost of Attendance. Interest rates are variable and will depend on your credit rating. If credit is denied, you would need a co-signer.

Royal Holloway doesn't have a preferred lender arrangement. You may approach any lender of your choice, however you should check first whether they are willing to lend to students studying at foreign schools. Some of our students have borrowed a private loan through Sallie Mae. Global Education Management Services (GEMS) have partnered with Sallie Mae® to offer the GEMS Smart Option Student Loan®Student Loan by Sallie Mae®. The name of the lender is Sallie Mae Bank (900909).

Private loans may be disbursed as a lump sum, or as multiple disbursements. As interest starts accruing from the day the lender releases the disbursement, you will have more interest to pay if your loan is disbursed as a lump sum. Disbursements are sent to Royal Holloway via a bank transfer and converted from USD to GBP using Western Union Business Solutions (WUBS). Loan funds will be paid to you once you've enrolled.

Federal loans versus private loans

The Federal Student Aid website provides a comparison between federal and private loans.

Cost of attendance 2017/18

The College will determine your Cost of Attendance (CoA). It consists of your tuition fees for the year plus an amount for living costs, which will be reviewed every academic year. 

Postgraduate Taught (MA, MSc): £20,092 + tuition fees

Postgraduate Research (PhD): £20,542 + tuition fees

Undergraduate (dependant) 1st year students: £16,201 + tuition fees

Undergraduate (independent) 1st year students: £16,232 + tuition fees

The total that you may borrow in federal and private loans plus any scholarships or grants you may be receiving may not exceed your CoA. We will use an exchange rate of GBP1 to USD1.45 to convert your tuition fees and living expenses to US dollar for 2017-18. The exchange rate will be reviewed every year. 

Overseas tuition fees for 2017-2018

Undergraduate fees
Postgraduate fees
Research degree fees

Please click here for information on scholarships and external sources of funding for international students.  

Application process 

The loan application flowchart provides a summary of the steps involved in applying for federal loans. A timeline of events from the time of submission of a FAFSA is summarised here.

 N.B. Please note that your FAFSA application is NOT automatically sent to Royal Holloway, we will only know if you require a loan by following the loan application flowchart 

Details of your loan(s) will be sent to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). The information can be accessed by lenders, guarantors and schools that are authorised users of the system.

We will send you a loan letter confirming the amount you will be receiving net of origination fees (2016-2017 academic year) of 1.069%  and 4.276% on the Stafford and PLUS loan, respectively, and the anticipated disbursement dates. We will endeavour to disburse the funds to you as close to these dates as possible.

Although US citizens are not required to submit proof of funding in support of their Tier 4 General Student visa application due to their low risk status, the original hard copy of the loan letter may be submitted as evidence of funding if requested by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). 

Loan disbursements 

Disbursement information

Federal loans are disbursed in three equal instalments, once per term. The anticipated disbursement dates for 2017-18 are:

Disbursement one: 14 September 2017 (returning students) or 12 October 2017 (new students)                

Disbursement two: 11 January 2018

Disbursement three: 26 April 2018

These dates are for guidance only, as there are a few steps involved in processing each disbursement and therefore we cannot provide an exact date. You would need to ensure you have sufficient funds of your own to cover your living expenses until you receive your first loan disbursement, as loan funds cannot be disbursed prior to your enrolment.  

You would need to pay yourself for any expenses you may incur beforehand, such as tuition fee and accommodation deposits, flights and visa costs, although these costs are included in your Cost of Attendance. Tuition and residence fees where relevant will be deducted from each disbursement and any remaining balance paid into your UK bank account.

You should enter your UK account details in Campus Connect. If you have not opened a UK account, you will be paid by cheque. Information on opening a UK bank account can be found here.

Right to cancel

You will be notified by email of your right to cancel or amend the disbursement about two weeks before each disbursement is activated. Once we have requested the funds from the US Treasury and you decide you don't need all of the money, you would need to return the excess funds as a repayment on your loan. Any funds returned within 120 days of the last disbursement will be treated as a cancellation and any interest accrued on the returned amount will be cancelled as well. Details of your loan servicer are available via the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).

Payment to enrol

If you are in receipt of a federal and/ or private loan you will be enrolled without the requirement to pay tuition fees, provided your loan amount is at least equal to your tuition fees. This also includes the tuition fee deposit payable when accepting your offer. A member of the Student Fees team will inform you if you need to make a payment to enrol. Enrolment information can be found here.

Maintaining loan eligibility 

Satisfactory academic progress

You have to maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP) and remain in at least half time study throughout the course of your programme to remain eligible for federal loans. We will check your progress twice a year, before the second and third disbursement of your loan is due. Please note that receipt of a progress review from your department is required before we will disburse the second and third loan disbursement to you. Details of our SAP policy can be found here.

Change in student status

If you withdraw, graduate or drop below half time study, we will update your status with your lender or loan servicer via the National Student Loans Data System (NSLDS) and you will no longer be eligible for further federal loans at Royal Holloway. These statuses will also enter your federal loans into repayment. Please note if you submit your thesis your status will be reported as "less than half time", and if you interrupt your studies for more than 180 days, your status will be the same as if you had withdrawn. We will be required to perform a return of funds calculation in all of these situations to determine if a student has earned all of the federal aid that was disbursed during the payment period (completion of at least 60 per cent of the payment period is required). If you haven't completed at least 60 per cent of the relevant payment period we would need to return any unearned funds in respect of tuition and residence fees to the US Treasury, which may leave you with a debt to the College. Any remaining disbursements will have to be cancelled. Please refer to the College's Return of funds and refund policy for further information.

Exit counselling

If you withdraw, graduate or drop below half time study you will be required to complete an exit counselling session via the Studentloans.gov website. The session provides important information on loan repayment. If you will be completing your studies or you've confirmed you won't be borrowing any further federal loans for the remainder of your studies, we will need confirmation that you've completed the session before you may receive the final disbursement.

Maximum eligibility period for undergraduates

If you are an undergraduate student who will be a first time borrower on or after 1 July 2013, you will only be eligible for the subsidised portion of the Stafford loan for a maximum period of 150 per cent of the published timeframe of your programme. Once you are meeting the 150 per cent limit, your eligibility will be reduced to unsubsidised Stafford only. Further information is available here.

Repayment of loans

Grace period

Information on repayment of federal loans is available on the Federal Student Aid website and in the publication Your federal student loans- Learn the basics and manage your debt. Your loan servicer can also provide information on repayment. Their details are available on the NSLDS website. There is a six month grace period on repayment of the Stafford loan once a student has withdrawn, graduated or dropped below half time. There is no grace period for the PLUS loan. The repayment period starts at the time the final disbursement is made, and the first payment is due within 60 days after the final disbursement.

Deferment and forbearance

If you aren't able to start repaying your loans, you may qualify for a deferment or forbearance that will temporarily suspend or reduce your repayments.This could help prevent default, which would impact negatively on your credit rating. Details are available on the Federal Student Aid website. You may be able to defer repayment if you are enrolled and attending at least half time at Royal Holloway. Please contact  Bao Chu to request an in-school deferment. 

Direct loan consolidation

You may be able to combine all of your existing federal loans into one loan, known as a Direct Consolidation Loan. There are no charges for consolidation.This means that you will have only one lender, the US Department of Education, and only one loan repayment every month with flexible repayment options. You may also switch repayment plans at any time. Further details are available on the  Direct Consolidation Loans website.


When and how will my loan be paid?

Federal loans are paid at the beginning of each term i.e. Sept for returning students/Oct for new students, Jan and Apr

The credit balance will be paid directly to a UK bank account if you have entered your bank details in Campus Connect. Otherwise we will issue you a cheque for you to collect from Student Services, please note that this will incur an extra week to process.

Are private loans such as Sallie Mae disbursed the same way as Federal loans?

Private loans such as Sallie Mae can be disbursed in 1 lump sum at the beginning of the term, or via 3 termly payments in line with the Federal loans.

Having the loan disbursed in a lump sum will incur more interest, because the entire balance incurs interest when the loan is disbursed. Termly disbursements incur less interest.

What exchange rate will be used to convert my US loan?

We will use the market rate from our partner Western Union Business Solutions (WUBS) on the day we convert the USD to GBP. This is when the US loan is received in our bank account and converted to GBP by WUBS.

The exchange rate in the COA is higher to account for any market fluctuations forecasted for the next 12 months. This is done because we need a static rate to calculate the COA in USD.

Your loan will however be converted using the exchange rate at the time of disbursement.

How will my tuition and accommodation be paid?

We will deduct 1/3 of your tuition and accommodation fees (if applicable) from your disbursement before paying the remaining credit balance.

What if I decide to cancel or reduce my loan?

We will notify you via email a week before your disbursement is due to be paid, this email will show the amount due. You can either opt to have this amount reduced or cancel the disbursement by emailing nicole.bester@royalholloway.ac.uk. You must do so before the deadline on the email.

Do I have to apply for a new loan for each year of study?

Yes, the Cost of Attendance is reviewed annually and therefore the amount you can borrow will change every year.

If you are a returning student then an email will be sent to you over the summer inviting you to submit your FAFSA, should you be interested in borrowing further loans.

I need someone to complete my 1098-T IRS tax form, who can do this?

Royal Holloway, University of London does not have an IRS Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) which is required to complete the 1098-T form.

However, we can provide you a Tuition/accommodation certifying letter detailing the charges and payments received.

Do I have to pay the tuition fee deposit?

If your loan covers the full tuition fees, then you do not need to pay the deposit of £2000. When your loan has been approved and a loan letter issued, a CAS will be automatically requested without the need to pay the deposit.

Can I receive part of my loan before I enrol in order to fund the initial costs such as flights and visas?

No, this is because you need to fully enrolled before your loan can be disbursed.

The room and board on the Cost of Attendance (COA) seems a bit high, do I have to borrow the full COA?

The COA is based on the most expensive halls on campus which is comparable to the rent in the local area, the other items on the COA is based on the average cost of living in the area. Therefore you do not need to borrow the maximum COA, instead borrow what you feel you need as you can potentially increase the loan at a later stage (up to the max COA).

Do I need to submit my loan letter for my tier 4 visa application?

If you are applying for your tier 4 visa from the USA, then you do not need to submit the loan letter as US nationals are classed as low risk (differentiation arrangements). Therefore you are not required to include the evidential documents.

Within the application form where it asks you to send in documents to support your finances, you should write the following: “I am not required to submit financial documents in support of my tier 4 visa under the Differentiation Arrangement in the Immigration Rules appendix H”


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