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International loan schemes

United States Federal Student Aid (Direct Loan Program)

Loans available

Direct subsidised and unsubsidised Stafford loans

The Direct Stafford loan has unsubsidised and subsidised components. The subsidised component is based on financial need, as defined by the US Department of Education. The loan is subsidised because the US Government pays the interest that accrues while you are enrolled at least half time in school (at least 12 credit points per semester for coursework students). The unsubsidised component of the loan is not based on financial need and you are responsible for paying the interest from the time the money is disbursed.

You have the option of paying the interest while you are studying. Alternatively, you can postpone interest payments while you are studying, in deferment, or for six months after you graduate, withdraw or drop below half-time enrolment. If you choose to postpone your payments, the interest accrues and is capitalised. This means the interest is added to your principal loan amount that you will have to repay. It may also increase the amount of your monthly re-payments. Annual loan limits for Direct subsidised and unsubsidised Stafford loans are outlined below.

The US Budget Control Act of 2011 (Pub. L. 112-25) made some important changes. Effective for loans made for periods of enrolment (loan periods) beginning on or after 1 July 2012, graduate or professional students are no longer eligible to receive federal direct subsidised loans. The terms and conditions of direct subsidised loans received by any student for loan periods beginning before 1 July 2012, for either graduate or undergraduate study, are not affected by this change.

Direct unsubsidised PLUS loans

For graduate and professional students

If you’re a graduate or professional student, you’re eligible to borrow additional funds through the Federal Direct PLUS Loan program, which was previously only available to parents of undergraduate students. Graduate students may borrow this Direct Loan on their own behalf.

You are encouraged to apply for a Direct Stafford loan before applying for a Direct PLUS Loan because Direct PLUS is subject to higher fees and interest rates.

You will need to meet credit guidelines to qualify. A credit check will be undertaken once the Direct PLUS loan has been originated. If you don’t pass the credit check, then your loan may be declined. There is an appeal process in place for such circumstances. For more information on the appeal process, please contact our International Loans Team on+61 2 8627 8336

Parent Loan for Dependent Undergraduate Students

Parents are eligible for the Parent PLUS loan if your child is a dependent undergraduate student, as defined by the US Department of Education. This is not a loan based on financial need.

You will need to meet credit guidelines to qualify. A credit check will be undertaken once the Direct PLUS loan has been originated. If you don’t pass the credit check, then the loan may be declined. There is an appeal process in place for such circumstances. For more information on the appeal process, please contact our International Loans Team on +61 2 8627 8336 or

Direct PLUS loan award limits

Grad and Parent PLUS borrowers are able to borrow their entire cost of attendance minus any other financial aid, such as scholarships or subsidised and unsubsidised Stafford loans.

Loan limits

Direct Stafford loan limits for undergraduate students

Annual loan limit per stage of the program (not years of study in the program) Dependent undergraduate student (US dollars) Independent undergraduate student (US dollars)

Stage one

$3500 Sub. + $2000 Unsub.
= $5500 per annum

$3500 Sub. + $6000 Unsub.
= $9500 per annum

Stage two

$4500 Sub. + $2000 Unsub.
= $6500 per annum

$4500 Sub. + $6000 Unsub.
= $10,500 per annum

Stage three, four or five

$5500 Sub. + $2000 Unsub.
= $7500 per annum

$5500 Sub. + $7000 Unsub.
= $12,500 per annum

Aggregate limit

Subsidised Max $23,000
Total Sub. and Unsub. $31,000

Subsidised Max $23,000
Total Sub. and Unsub. $57,500

Note: First time direct loan borrowers who receive a subsidised Stafford amount for more than 150 percent of their official program duration may lose their eligibility to the subsidised portion of the Stafford loan.

Direct Stafford annual loan limits for graduate students

Applies to loans originated ON or AFTER 1 July 2012

Subsidised (US dollars) Unsubsidised (US dollars)

Graduate and Professional Student



The aggregate loan limit for graduate and professional students remains unchanged at $138,500, not more than $65,500 of which may be in subsidised loans.

Open Learning Environment enrolment restrictions

From 2018, if you are commencing a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Economics or Bachelor of Science (or related degree), or combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies, you are required to complete 12 credit points of Open Learning Environment (OLE) units to meet your course requirements.

As most OLE units are offered online, under U.S. Federal Regulations, students in receipt of Direct Loans are not eligible to undertake these units. However, there is a selection of OLE units that have been designed with face-to-face teaching and are eligible units for Direct Loan recipients to undertake. Contact the International Loans Team for a full list of eligible OLE units.

Students commencing in the Doctor of Medicine after March 1, 2019 will not be able to receive U.S. Federal Student Aid and will need to seek funding through personal means or Sallie Mae. If you would like further information, please contact the International Loans Team at

Due to US Department of Education regulations effective 1 July 2012, the University of Sydney will no longer be able to provide Federal Student Aid for students studying nursing. The only lending option may be available in the form of a private loan. Please contact the International Loans Team on +61 2 8627 8336 or for more information.

Interest rates

The following table provides the interest rates for new Direct Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2023, and before July 1, 2024. These rates will apply to all new Direct Loans made during this time.

Loan Interest rate

Direct subsidised loans (undergraduates)


Direct unsubsidised loans (undergraduates)


Direct unsubsidised loans (graduate or professional students)


Direct PLUS loans (parents and graduate or professional students)


Origination fees

Most federal student loans have origination fees that are charged by the US Department of Education and are deducted proportionately from each loan disbursement you receive. This means the money you receive will be less than the amount you actually borrow. You're responsible for repaying the entire amount you borrowed and not just the amount you received.

The current origination fees for Direct Loans are:

  • 1.057 percent for direct subsidised Stafford loans and direct unsubsidised Stafford loans
  • 4.228 percent for Direct PLUS Loans for parents and graduate and professional students.

Cost of attendance and fees

The University's cost of attendance is your full tuition fees and full living expenses, as well as any ancillary costs.

The current cost of attendance is outlined below in Australian dollars for two semesters. If you’re applying for financial aid for one semester only, these figures will be prorated accordingly. The figures are periodically reviewed and subject to changes on an annual basis.

Tuition & fees

Varies depending on your program of study

Living allowance
(including room and board, rent, food, transport)


Return airfare




Overseas Student Health Cover
(visa length cover)

Varies depending on visa length

Books and supplies


Origination fee

As published on the United States Student Aid website. Origination fees are revised every October.

*Ancillary costs/program costs

Ancillary costs apply to some programs only and vary depending on the program.

Additional expenses

You may be able to have additional expenses added to your cost of attendance, such as dependent care or expenses related to a disability and medical expenses not covered by insurance. You need to submit supporting documents with your application, for example a doctor’s letter detailing specific expenses related to a disability. Once we’ve received your supporting documents, please allow two to four weeks for processing. Contact the International Loans Team if you need more information.

Amounts incurred in US dollars won’t be converted to another currency before being added to your cost of attendance.

Responsible borrowing

The International Loans Team has a duty of care to encourage responsible student borrowing and ensure you are aware that relocation costs are not included as part of the cost of attendance. You need to make sure you have access to other funds to cover your relocation and settlement costs in Sydney while your loans are being processed.

Under US Federal Regulations your cost of attendance must only include costs associated with your education for the time you are in study. If you are funding your relocation costs by other means (such as credit card or line of credit), you will not be certified for any additional amounts exceeding your cost of attendance and relating to relocation costs. In addition, private and federal loans will not be certified to be disbursed before your departure.


To be eligible for the US Department of Education's Direct Loan Program loans, you need to be:

  • an eligible US citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • not in default or owing a return repayment on a federal student loan
  • enrolled in a full degree program (graduate diplomas and graduate certificate programs do not qualify for Direct Stafford and PLUS Loans).

While you are enrolled, to remain eligible, you need to:

  • be enrolled at least half time in a degree program
  • make satisfactory academic progress
  • be on track to complete your degree within 150 percent of the allocated course timeframe (maximum timeframe)
  • not enrol in courses offered by online, telecommunication or distance delivery in whole or part.

How to apply

Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on the FAFSA website to be considered for federal student aid. You will need to include the University of Sydney's US Department of Education federal school code: G30672.

Students and parent borrowers also need to complete a master promissory note (MPN) online. If you are a first-time borrower, you also need to complete entrance counselling online.

After 1–4 weeks, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). You need to view your SAR on the FAFSA website, using a PIN, and check it’s accurate.

You need to advise the International Loans Team once you complete a FAFSA, we are not automatically notified. We will then calculate your eligibility and issue loan award letters to your Sydney Student account.

Log in to Sydney Student and accept your Direct Loan by selecting ‘accept’ in your award letter message. You will be prompted to:

  • enter the US dollar amount of each loan you wish to borrow
  • upload a PDF copy of your MPN
  • enter the date you completed entrance counselling
  • provide your Australian bank account details.

The University can then originate your loan with the US Department of Education.

If you’re a coursework student, there are two disbursement dates per annual loan period for Direct Stafford and Direct Grad/Parent PLUS loans. These dates coincide with the commencement date of each semester.

If you’re a research student, there are four disbursement dates per annual loan period for Direct Stafford and GradPLUS loans. These dates coincide with the commencement date of each research period.

The University will advise you by email once your loans have been originated. We will deduct the balance of tuition fees for the semester and refund the difference into your bank account.

The Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) is due later in the semester. You need to be aware of the payment due date and it is your responsibility to pay your SSAF from the money refunded to your bank account.

If you have paid in full for the semester, a full refund will be processed. The refund will take approximately 10 business days.

Academic responsibilities

Satisfactory academic progress for US Federal Aid Students

The University of Sydney is required by United States (US) Federal Regulations (34CFR 668.34) to define and enforce standards of satisfactory academic progress for students receiving US Federal Aid.

If you’re receiving US Federal Aid, you need to achieve satisfactory academic progress to continue receiving US Federal Aid. The University of Sydney has policies and procedure for identifying and supporting students at risk, contained within the University’s Coursework Policy (pdf, 584KB) and University of Sydney (Higher Degree by Research) Rule (pdf, 877KB) (as amended).

You will be evaluated every semester to consider your progress under the following criteria:

  • Academic Standing
  • Maximum Timeframe

To receive US Federal Aid, you need to meet minimum standards for both the above-mentioned components, while simultaneously adhering to the University’s academic progress rules and to Australian Immigration legislation.

Academic standing

If you’re enrolled in an award course, you need to meet the course and progression requirements within the time limits for the course.

At the end of each semester, each faculty or school will identify the students in their courses who are not meeting academic progression requirements.

A student will be identified as not meeting academic progression requirements in a semester if:

  1. the student received a Fail, Discontinued – Fail or Absent Fail grade in more than 50 percent of the total credit points allocated to the units of study in which they were enrolled for the semester
  2. the student’s semester average mark was less than 50
  3. the course resolutions stipulate that:
    • an average mark above 50 is required in order to remain enrolled in an award course or stream
    • alternative enrolment is available
    • the student’s average mark for all the units of study in which they were enrolled for the semester was less than the required average mark
  4. the student failed one or more barrier units of study, compulsory units of study, field work, clinical work, practicum or other professional experience specified in the course resolutions
  5. the student has failed twice to pass the same unit of study (excluding Summer School and Winter School units of study)
  6. the student’s attendance record during the semester was unsatisfactory; or
  7. the student is unable to complete their award course within the maximum time limit, while carrying a normal student load.

If you’re identified as not meeting academic progression requirements, you will be subject to the following warning procedure.

Financial aid warning

If you’re receiving financial aid, have been identified as not meeting academic progression, and are placed on the University’s progression register at Stage 1 – Not Meeting Academic Progression Requirements, you will be placed on a Financial Aid Warning.

While placed on this warning you will continue to receive US Federal Aid as long as you meet satisfactory academic progress in all future studies.

Financial aid suspension and probation

If you’re identified as not meeting academic progression in a subsequent semester, you will be placed on the University’s progression register at Stage 2 – At Risk of Being Asked to Show Good Cause or Stage 3 Being Asked to Show Good Cause (if your course duration is two years or less). You will lose your eligibility to financial aid and your aid will be suspended.


If your financial aid is suspended due to being placed on stage 2 - at risk of being asked to show good cause, you may appeal a suspension if the appeal is based on illness, medical, compelling, compassionate and/or other mitigating circumstances. Appeals need to be made in writing and addressed to the Financial Aid Office.

All relevant and supporting documents, such as medical and police reports, need to be included in your appeal application. We will assess your appeal and provide an outcome within 10 days of lodgement.

If you choose not to appeal the US Federal Aid suspension, financial aid eligibility will be reinstated once you meet satisfactory academic progress.

If your appeal is successful, you will be placed on Financial Aid Probation. You can remain on this probation and receive financial aid for one semester only. After the probation period, you need to meet one of the following criteria.

  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress to continue to receive financial aid.
  • Follow an academic plan (this must be approved by the Financial Aid Office) to ensure you meet satisfactory academic progress by a specified time.

If you are placed on stage 3 - asked to showed good cause, your financial aid will be suspended and there is no course for appeal.

Maximum timeframe

You will become ineligible for funding when you can no longer complete within 150% of the published full-time duration, not when you reach 150% of the published full-time duration.

Remedial, Non-Credit Courses and Incompletes

Non-credit courses will not be counted in assessing full-time hours. You are required to achieve a grade on any deferred or supplementary assessment within six months of completing a unit of study.

Cohort Default Rate

The University of Sydney's 2020 Three Year Cohort Default Rate is 0.

Consumer information

To ensure you have all the information you need to make a decision about studying here, use the links provided to view current information about the University and our policies and procedures.

You need to know the current requirements and procedures for students and the University of Sydney, under the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008. Our website provides the latest information (and we have summarised with a list of links below) but if you cannot find the information you need, please contact us.

Last updated: 29 September 2023

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