Aid for U.S. students

UNSW is accredited to administer study loans for U.S. students

U.S. Federal Direct Loan

The United States Department of Education has accredited UNSW to administer various loans to eligible students as part of the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. Loans under this program, known as ‘direct loans’, are low-interest loans to help students and their parents meet the costs of tertiary education. The US Department of Education, rather than a financial institution, provides the loan under US Title IV legislation.

Other loans under the Title IV legislation include Pell Grants, Perkins Loans and Direct Stafford Loans. As these loans are not available to students studying outside the United States, UNSW cannot award aid under these programs. However, UNSW can arrange for loan repayments to be deferred while you attend UNSW full-time or at least half-time.

The US Department of Education federal school code for UNSW is G08670.

Eligibility to apply

To be eligible for financial aid as a U.S. student you must satisfy the following conditions:

  • Be a citizen, national permanent resident or eligible non-citizen of the United States of America
  • Be studying in Australia
  • Be enrolled at least half-time in an on campus full degree program (Bachelor, Master or PhD)
  • Not be enrolled in any Study Abroad program
  • Not be enrolled in any online course
  • Not be enrolled in a Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate program
  • Not be enrolled in the MBBS or BMed/MD programs
  • Not be completing research based in the United States (as Masters and PhD students)
  • Meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress criteria as outlined in our SAP policy (see below)
  • Complete your program within 1.5 times of the actual program duration as advised on the letter of offer
  • Never have been convicted of an offence in relation to the sale or possession of a controlled substance
  • Not be in default on a Stafford, PLUS, SLS or Consolidation Loan
  • Comply with requests for documentation if selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education
  • For PLUS loans, you (postgraduate students) or your parents (undergraduate dependent students) must also pass a credit check
  • Submit all documentation required by UNSW Australia to verify your eligibility and determine your financial need
Loan types

Subsidized Stafford Loans 

Subsidized Stafford Loans are awarded to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. The US Federal Government pays your interest while you are enrolled at least half-time, during the grace period and for any periods of deferment. Although you are not required to make payments while you are studying, you start repaying your loan six months after you graduate, leave school or drop below half-time enrolment. Stafford loans generally have lower interest rates and better repayment terms than PLUS loans.

Unsubsidized Stafford Loans

Unsubsidized Stafford Loans are available to all eligible students regardless of income. Unlike the subsidized Stafford Loan, you are responsible for paying interest on the loan. Interest begins accruing from the time of the first disbursement. You have the option of deferring your interest and principal payments until you enter the repayment period (at which point this interest is ‘capitalized’). Alternatively, you can opt to make a minimum repayment of $50 per month or the unpaid balance including interest, whichever is less. This will save you a lot of money in the long run. Stafford loans generally have lower interest rates and better repayment terms than PLUS loans.

Parent PLUS Loans for undergraduate dependent students

Parent PLUS Loans for undergraduate dependent students are federally guaranteed loans that allow parents to borrow funds to pay for the educational expenses of a dependent student. The program requires the borrower to pass a credit check. Interest begins to accrue when funds are disbursed and repayment begins within 60 days after the loan has been fully disbursed.

PLUS Loans for postgraduate students

PLUS Loans for postgraduate students are federally guaranteed loans that allow graduates to borrow funds to pay for educational expenses on their own. They may undertake the loan with an eligible co-signer. The program requires the borrower to pass a credit check. Before applying for this loan the borrower must apply for the maximum annual Stafford loan amount and UNSW must determine the borrower’s eligibility for this amount.

Annual and aggregate loan limits

Stafford and PLUS loans are available for both undergraduate and postgraduate studies.

The main advantages of Stafford loans are that they have lower interest rates and better repayment terms. However, because there are annual loan limits, many students apply for both a Stafford and a PLUS loan in order to meet the costs of their education. The below amounts are denominated in USD.

Undergraduate dependent students

Year of study Annual subsidized loan limit Annual total combined loan limit Aggregate subsidized loan limit Aggregate combined loan limit (Sub & Unsub)
1st year $3,500 $5,500 $23,000 $31,000
2nd year $4,500 $6,500 $23,000 $31,000
3rd year & above $5,500 $7,500 $23,000 $31,000

Undergraduate independent students (and Undergraduate dependent students whose parents are unable to obtain a PLUS loan)

Year of study Annual subsidized loan limit Annual total combined loan limit Aggregate subsidized loan limit Aggregate combined loan limit (Sub & Unsub)
1st year $3,500 $9,500 $23,000 $57,000
2nd Year $4,500 $10,500 $23,000 $57,000
3rd year & above $5,500 $12,500 $23,000 $57,000

Postgraduate and professional students

Year of study Annual subsidised loan limit Annual total combined loan limit Aggregate subsidized loan limit Aggregate combined loan limit (Sub & Unsub)
All years 0 $20,500 $65,500 $138,500

Do not exceed the loan limits!

Over-borrowing or exceeding your annual or aggregate loan limit will prevent you from receiving funds under any of the Title IV student aid programs.

In order to regain eligibility for financial aid, you must make satisfactory arrangements with your loan servicer and provide evidence to the UNSW Financial Aid Office. This may include:

  • Confirmation from your loan servicer that you have paid the excess amount
  • A loan summary sheet from Direct Loans confirming that you have consolidated all loans that were in excess

To review your current loan amounts and determine your loan servicer, please log into the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) by visiting

How to apply for a loan

1. Apply to study at UNSW at Apply Online

Your application for financial aid cannot be assessed until you have applied to study at UNSW. Your application for financial aid will be kept on file until you receive your letter of offer to study at UNSW.

2. Submit your financial aid documents

Submit all financial aid documents to the UNSW Financial Aid Office at [email protected].

Your eligibility cannot be assessed until all of the following documents have been received:

  • UNSW Australia U.S. Financial Aid Application Form
  • Student Aid Report (FAFSA). The UNSW FAFSA ID is G08670
  • Master Promissory Note (MPN)
  • Entrance Counselling

In order to apply for a PLUS Loan, parents of dependent undergraduate students or postgraduate students should go to and complete the following:

  1. Sign in using your FSA Student PIN
  2. Complete a Direct PLUS Loan Request
  3. Sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN) for the Direct PLUS Loan
  4. Complete the credit check

3. Wait to receive your financial aid package (award letter and cost of attendance)

A UNSW Financial Aid Officer will assess your application and calculate your Cost of Attendance (see below for an explanation), which will need to be reviewed by the Director of Financial Aid. Once approved, your Cost of Attendance will be sent to you along with the Award Letter. These documents indicate your estimated cost of attendance and the maximum amount of US financial aid you are eligible to receive during the first year of your degree.

Please allow up to two weeks to receive your financial aid package.

4. Sign and return the Award Letter

Review the information in your Award Letter and Cost of Attendance documents, sign the Award Letter and return it by email to the UNSW Financial Aid Office stating the exact amount that you would like to borrow for each type of loan. We advise that you keep your borrowing to a minimum.

5. Loan origination and disbursement

On receipt of your signed Award Letter, a UNSW Financial Aid Officer will originate your loans in preparation for the upcoming semester. Under U.S. Federal Policy, UNSW does not provide you with the funds until classes commence, where applicable. The balance, after paying your tuition fees, is refunded to you for living expenses in your nominated bank account in Australia. In general, you receive two equal disbursements coinciding with the beginning of each semester. Please note that loan funds are subject to a 30-day disbursement delay for first-year, first-time borrowers.

We recommend you ensure you have sufficient funds to support yourself during the first 4-6 weeks in Sydney, including initial costs for accommodation.

Cost of attendance

The Cost of Attendance (CoA) is an estimate of your education expenses for the period you are enrolled at UNSW. The compulsory components of the CoA are the same for all U.S. Stafford programs as specified under United States law. The CoA will specify the total amount you may borrow through the Direct Loan Program minus any other aid you may be receiving for that award period.

Your Estimated Financial Assistance (EFA; e.g. sponsorships or scholarships) is deducted from the CoA to establish the amount you can borrow. In the case of dependent undergraduate students, the Expected Family Contribution (EFC; reported on the top right corner of your SAR) as well as your EFA are deducted from your CoA to determine your financial need and eligibility for a subsidized loan.

Your CoA represents the maximum amount to which you are entitled under a Direct Loan or Private Loan.

The below allowable costs calculated in your annual Cost of Attendance are reviewed and updated annually by the UNSW Financial Aid Office. They are denominated in AUD.

Tuition fees Dependent on your program of study (Generally based on 2 semesters of full time study, i.e. 48 units of credit)* Please visit Indicative Fees to find out your estimated tuition fee
Books and supplies $1,200 Per year
Living costs $28,000 Per year - including room, board and utilities
Return airfare $2,000 Per year
Laptop $1,500 One time allowance awarded on the first application for aid at UNSW
Transport $1600 Per year
OSHC - health insurance compulsory for student visa holders Dependent on the length of your visa – $50/month as for Medibank 2016 rates One time allowance awarded on the first application for aid at UNSW.

*The above amounts are all in Australian Dollars and were converted into US dollars on the day the Cost of Attendance was prepared.

Students with dependents may apply for a Dependent Care Allowance to be included in the CoA by submitting supporting documentation. This allowance is to enable the student to attend classes. The amount of the allowance is based on the number and age of dependents and should not exceed a reasonable cost amount in the community for the kind of care provided.

If you are a permanent resident, or if you hold dual U.S./Australian or U.S./New Zealand citizenship, you must declare any financial support received from the Australian or New Zealand Government. Your CoA will be modified according to your student status and access to other support based on your country of origin.

US federal student loan recipient responsibilities

Satisfactory Academic Progress policy

UNSW Australia is required by U.S. Federal law (34CFR 668.16) to define and enforce standards of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) on students who wish to access U.S. federal funds. The guidelines have been established to encourage students to progress and successfully complete the academic program for which aid is received.

If you receive Stafford loan funds you will be evaluated at the end of each semester. This evaluation process will consider your progress under the following criteria:

1. Academic Standing
  • Students undertaking undergraduate or postgraduate studies by coursework must maintain a cumulative Weighted Average Mark (WAM) of 65% or higher in order to be eligible for Federal Aid at UNSW. Students performing below 65% WAM will be placed on SAP probation for one semester. They must then achieve above 65% WAM in the subsequent semester to continue to receive funding. Students who are on probation and achieve a semester WAM under 65% again (i.e. achieve a WAM under 65% for two consecutive semesters) will be ineligible for further funding until their cumulative WAM is again over this minimum requirement
  • Students enrolled in the MBA program (8350) are required to achieve a WAM of 55% every semester
  • Students enrolled in the Juris Doctor (9150) are required to achieve a WAM of 60% every semester
  • Students undertaking postgraduate studies by research are also bound by the same criteria in relation to time in which they are able to access aid and successful progression towards completion of their research. Students studying in this mode will need to achieve the 'good standing' criteria awarded by the Graduate Research School

Please note non-credit courses will not be counted in assessing full-time hours. A student is required to achieve a grade on any deferred or supplementary assessment within 6 months of completing a class.

2. Maximum Timeframe

Please also note that U.S. Federal law requires students to complete their educational program within 150% of the minimum full time duration for their award program. This is considered the Maximum Timeframe for completion. In a review at the end of each semester, a student with a regular full-time study load (24 credit points) must have successfully completed at least two-thirds of the attempted program to date in order to meet this requirement.

In order to receive U.S. Federal funds, students must meet minimum standards for the above (Academic Standing and Maximum Timeframe) while adhering to UNSW’s academic progress rules and ESOS legislation.

Financial Aid Probation and Suspension

Students who fail to achieve the required WAM level for their degree program and the academic level within that degree structure, will be placed on Financial Aid probation for six months.

Students who have been placed on probation and subsequently meet the WAM requirements in the next semester will be placed back into good Financial Aid (SAP) standing.

Students who have been placed on probation and do not meet the requirements applicable to degree and level will be suspended and ineligible to receive aid until such time as they achieve the required WAM.

Students who transfer into a new academic program will also transfer with any SAP warning or sanction, and will still need to meet the specified criteria in the new program before re-establishing eligibility to receive aid.


A SAP appeal for verifiable extenuating or unforeseen circumstances is available, if you believe that you meet the appeal criteria. UNSW cannot automatically waive the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirement for any student to receive financial aid.

Students who have their eligibility for U.S. Federal Aid suspended may appeal the suspension if one or more of the following circumstances exist:

  • Death of a family member (parent, spouse, sibling, dependent child etc.)
  • The extended illness of the student - extended illness as defined as a documented chronic or recurring medical or emotional illness that causes the student to be absent from class for at least 15 days or more
  • The extended illness of a family member that places hardship on the student. Immediate family members include parent, spouse, sibling and dependant
  • Mitigating circumstances as determined by the Financial Aid appeals committee

All appeals must be received within 30 days of receipt of the Notice of Suspension.

Reinstatement of Eligibility

Students who have been denied access to aid as a result of their failure to maintain the appropriate WAM are required to monitor their individual academic progress. When the student believes they have regained eligibility they are required to submit the UNSW Financial Aid application along with all supporting documentation to the UNSW Financial Aid Office. Students who are re-instated will automatically be placed on Financial Aid Probation for the first semester.

Leave of Absence Policy

A student's request for a leave of absence (for U.S. Department of Education Financial Aid purposes only) must be submitted in writing, and must be approved by the UNSW Financial Aid Office to be considered an official leave of absence.

Students will not incur additional charges during an official leave of absence period. Students who fail to return to school as scheduled from an official leave of absence will be considered as withdrawn as of the start of the leave of absence. This policy may affect any grace periods relative to federal student loan repayment schedules.

Before a leave of absence for Financial Aid purposes can be granted, UNSW must have a reasonable expectation that the student will return from the leave. Therefore, every student must specify the reason for his or her leave and include supporting documentation, such as a medical certificate.

All students must return to UNSW at the expiration of the leave of absence. Students may take multiple LOAs during a year but not more than 180 days in total (and this includes weekends and scheduled breaks). Failure to return from an approved leave will result in the student being reported to the National Student Loan Data System. The Financial Aid Office will use the start date of the leave of absence as the student’s official withdrawal date.

All Title IV financial aid recipients should be aware of the consequences a withdrawal may have on their student loan repayment terms. This includes exhausting the six month grace period and entering repayment on student loan debt. If a student fails to return from an approved leave of absence, UNSW will report the student’s change in enrolment status to the loan holder. Students will also be responsible for completing exit loan counselling and will be contacted by the Financial Aid Office to fulfil this requirement as mandated by the FFEL Program.

Students who fail to return from approved leave and who are withdrawn from the University may have their institutional charges adjusted. Financial aid recipients need to be aware that UNSW may perform a Return of Title IV funds calculation. This means that your federal student aid loan may not cover all unpaid institutional charges. The Financial Aid Office will complete a Return of Title IV Funds calculation within 45 days of your official withdrawal date.

Withdrawing from the University and Return of Title IV Policy

You must advise both your Faculty Student Centre and the UNSW Financial Aid Officer as soon as you decide to withdraw from your studies. Upon withdrawal you will need to complete Exit Counselling (this must be completed within one week of withdrawal) and prepare to commence your loan repayments.

If you withdraw from your program, drop out, discontinue or go on an unapproved leave of absence in the first 60% of an award payment period (semester), both you and the University will have to repay a portion of your Federal Aid. The amount that must be repaid is worked out pro-rata based on your withdrawal date. The requirements for the treatment of Direct Loan funds when a student withdraws are on the US Federal Student Aid website.

How the withdrawal date is determined:

  • Official notification provided
    If you wish to withdraw completely from your program, you should first discuss your decision with a Student Advisor within your faculty and with your Financial Aid Officer so that you understand the University's refund policy and the implications for your visa upon withdrawing. If you decide to proceed with your withdrawal, the date you informed the University in writing will be your withdrawal date for the purpose of calculating loan refunds
  • Official notification not provided
    If you do not provide official notification of your withdrawal, the University must make a decision on the withdrawal date to calculate the return of Direct Loan funds. If notice was not provided because of circumstances beyond your control, the withdrawal date will be the date on which that circumstance occurred. For other reasons, the withdrawal date will be the midpoint of the payment period

Please note, the University's refund policy is independent of the regulations covering the Return of Title IV Funds. On withdrawal, your eligibility for refunds or liability for tuition and other payments to UNSW is determined by the University's refund policy.

Leaving UNSW and loan repayments

Students attending UNSW have different educational experiences and the debt levels of each student reflects individual choices and knowledge about loan program options. The UNSW Financial Aid Office is committed to ensuring that students leave our University with the lowest amount of debt possible and we will actively work with you to ensure this.

As soon as you leave university you have a 6 month grace period before you must commence monthly principal and interest repayments on your loan. Please note that the maximum 6 month grace period may be reduced should you take a leave of absence.

As the grace period does not apply to PLUS loans, you may wish to consider consolidating your PLUS loan with your Stafford loan. Please contact Federal Student Aid for further information about consolidation.

Before repayment starts, you will be provided with repayment options and a Repayment Schedule from your lender or servicer for each type of loan.

If you do not receive these schedules towards the end of your grace period, contact your lender because repayment begins whether or not you are aware of it. Also, all of the borrower benefits will only apply if you make your first payment on time.

Exit counselling

Students must complete online Direct Loan exit counselling before leaving university. Counselling will include information on your obligations, rights and options under the terms of your loan. The session will cover repayment options, deferments and other important information you may need during your repayment term.

The consequences of defaulting on your loans can be extremely serious, so it is essential that you are aware of your obligations and the options that you have, should you have trouble repaying your loans.

Delinquency and default

Failure to make your monthly payment within 30 days will result in you being considered a delinquent borrower and may result in your delinquency being reported to a credit bureau. This could damage your credit rating. It is essential that you contact your lender immediately if you are unable to make a monthly payment to avoid default.

The consequences of delinquency could include:

  • being reported to credit bureaus affecting your credit history
  • being classified as a defaulter after several months

The consequences of defaulting could include:

  • the lender can garnish your wages and tax returns
  • the services will sue and you will be responsible for all costs
  • collection agencies take over and add an additional 15-18% interest to the loan
  • student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy
  • in a number of U.S. states, your driver's licence may be revoked

The National Student Loan Data System website provides data on all your Federal student loans to assist you keep track of the amounts borrowed.


One advantage of borrowing through the Federal Loan Program is the option of postponing repayment for a period of time under certain conditions. However, it is important to note how interest must be paid or not paid on various loans. You must continue making repayments until you have been notified that the deferment is granted. Keep copies of all forms and correspondence related to your deferment. There are several types of deferral options available and the common types and links to deferment forms can be found here.

If you find yourself in temporary financial difficulty and no deferment option applies to you, you can request forbearance from your lender or servicer. Forbearance is granted at the lender’s discretion and allows you to have months added to the term of your loan, to temporarily reduce the amount of your monthly payment or temporarily suspend monthly payments.

There are several forbearance options available. The two most common types of forbearance are:

  • Economic Hardship Forbearance: If your student loan payments exceed 20% of your total monthly income you can apply for this type of forbearance. It is given in 12 month increments for a maximum of three years
  • Administrative Forbearance: May be granted by your lender if you are delinquent on payments prior to entering a period of deferment

Note that interest continues to accrue on your loan during forbearance. That interest must be repaid, which can result in higher monthly payments once the forbearance has ended. The U.S. Federal Government does not pay the interest on Subsidized Stafford loans while your loans are in forbearance.

U.S. private loans

Private education loans are available from non-government lenders and approval is based on credit history. It is recommended that you apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen.

U.S. students can use private education loans to borrow the difference between the maximum Cost of Attendance (COA) and any Federal (Direct) Loan.

Private education loans are also available to those students enrolled in the MBBS program and all non-degree programs such as certificate, graduate and postgraduate diploma programs which are ineligible for Federal funding.

They can also be used when a student is otherwise ineligible for Federal loans, e.g. when they are enrolled less than half-time or studying on exchange with an institution which is ineligible for Federal funding.

Presently Sallie Mae is the only lender offering private education loans to students studying outside of the US. Please refer to their website for specific details about eligibility, how to apply, loan amounts and other terms and conditions.

UNSW strongly recommends that students first apply for Federal loans (where eligible) and then apply for additional funds through a private education loan, if required. Federal loans are more favourable due to the generally lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options.

For further information please contact the Financial Aid Office.

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs education benefit program

UNSW is an approved institution for the administration of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs funding under the Montgomery GI Bill and Post 9/11 GI Bill program.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will pay eligible student education benefits for pursuit of an approved program of study.

Due to the large volume of course approvals with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, applications for course approval can only be requested if the student can provide a Certificate of Eligibility from Veterans Affairs and is enrolled at UNSW.

You can check whether your degree is approved here by entering the following details:

  • Institution: University of New South Wales
  • Program Type: Institution of Higher Learning
  • Country: Australia

If your course is not yet approved, contact the Financial Aid Office at [email protected] so that course approval can be requested.

Eligibility for VA benefits can be extended to veterans, members of the Selected Reserves or National Guard; and children or spouses of service-connected deceased or totally and permanently disabled veterans. Each U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA) education program has distinct eligibility requirements under specific chapters of Title 10 and 38, U.S. Code (USC). All students who feel they may be eligible for education benefits should submit an application. Even if a student appears to be ineligible, the DVA will review the application and officially grant or deny benefits.