The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program is the largest federal student loan program. Under this program, the U.S. Department of Education is your lender. There are four types of Direct Loans available:    

  1. Direct Subsidized Loans are loans made to eligible undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need to help cover the costs of higher education. No interest is charged while in school at least half-time, during the grace period, and during deferment periods. 

  2. Direct Unsubsidized Loans are loans made to eligible undergraduate and graduate students, but in this case, the student does not have to demonstrate financial need to be eligible for the loan. Interest is charged during all periods, even during the time a student is in school and during grace and deferment periods.

  3. Direct PLUS Loans are loans made to graduate students and parents of dependent undergraduate students to help pay for education expenses not covered by other financial aid. PLUS loans help pay for education expenses up to the cost of attendance minus all other financial assistance. Interest is charged during all periods. When you apply for a Direct PLUS Loan, the US Department of Education will check your credit history. To be eligible to receive a PLUS Loan, you must not have an adverse credit history.

  4. Direct Consolidation Loans allow you to combine all of your eligible federal student loans into a single loan with a single loan servicer.

As with all federal student aid, you apply for Direct Loans by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Most students use FAFSA online to complete their applications.

NB: US Pell Grants and Perkins Loans are not available to students attending foreign schools.

Other loan programs

Not from the U.S.?  Check out your loan options

Loan eligibility

Student eligibility

To be eligible to receive a Direct Loan, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, national, U.S. permanent resident or an eligible noncitizen;
  • Have a valid Social Security number (SSN);
  • Register with Selective Service if you are a man aged 18-25. Register online at the Selective Service website;
  • Be in good standing with any previous loans;
  • Make satisfactory academic progress – view policy documents

Online courses are not eligible for Direct Loans*

Program eligibility

A student must be enrolled at least half time, or 6 credits per term in an eligible program to receive aid from the Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized and Direct Parent PLUS Loan programs. Registered courses must be for credit and on-campus; audited courses do not count.

Students are required to maintain satisfactory academic progress to continue their annual eligibility for US Loans.

If you're considering going on Co-op or Exchange, please contact Student Finance and Awards first to fully understand how this will affect your future Direct Loan eligibility. Make sure you check the US Federal School Code Search (under Foreign Country) to confirm that your partner institution is also eligible to provide Title IV funds.

  • If your partner institution is eligible, U of S can assess you for Direct Loans while you’re away.
  • If your partner institution is not eligible:
    • ​You will not be eligible to receive Direct Loans for the period of your exchange.
    • You will not be eligible for any future US loan funding.
    • You may be required to pay back any previous funding you've received.

The following are not eligible for US loans:

  • Students registered in online courses*
  • Students on co-op
  • Visiting students
  • Nursing and Medical students

If you are affected by any of these restrictions, you may wish to look into Sallie Mae private loans.

*Students must be registered in an on-campus degree program. Students registered in Distance Education courses, Continuing Education certificate or diploma programs are not eligible. The Higher Education Action of 1965 (as amended) specifies that a program offered by a foreign school through any use of a telecommunications course, correspondence course, or direct assessment program is not an eligible program. As such, any student taking even one distance education course is not eligible for funding through the Direct Loan Program. If you choose to take a distance education course, you will be ineligible for US Direct Loan funding for the duration of your program.

Loan limits

The maximum amount you can borrow each year in Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans depends on your grade level and on whether you are a dependent student or an independent student. The following table shows the maximum amount of money you may borrow each academic year (September to August) in Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans as well as the total or aggregate amount you may borrow:

Annual loan limits for dependent undergraduates

Grade Level

Subsidized Loan

Unsubsidized Loan

Total

First Year

$3,500

$2,000

$5,500

Second Year

$4,500

$2,000

$6,500

Third & Fourth Year

$5,500

$2,000

$7,500

Aggregate limit is $31,000 (no more than $23,000 subsidized)

Dependent students who require more funding may apply for a Parent Plus loan.

Annual loan limits for independent undergraduates

Grade Level

Subsidized Loan

Unsubsidized Loan

Total

First Year

$3,500

$6,000

$9,500

Second Year

$4,500

$6,000

$10,500

Third & Fourth Year

$5,500

$7,000

$12,500

Aggregate limit is $57,500 (no more than $23,000 subsidized)

Annual loan limits for graduate and professional students

Graduate Students Funding limits
All years of study $20,500 (unsubsidized)

Aggregate limit is $138,500 (no more than $65,500 subsidized). The aggregate amounts for graduate students include loans for undergraduate study. 

Graduate students are not eligible to receive Direct Subsidized Loans for loan periods beginning on or after July 1, 2012.

With a Direct PLUS Loan, a graduate student or the parent of a dependent student can borrow up to the cost of the student’s attendance minus other financial aid the student receives. Graduate students wishing to borrow additional funds (up to the cost of attendance) may apply for Grad PLUS Loans.

Applying

Applying for aid

The application process and documentation required varies according to the type of US government loan you are applying for.

Applying for a direct loan

  1.  Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the applicable academic year. University of Saskatchewan’s federal code is: G22192
  2. E-sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN)
  3. Email awards@usask.ca to advise us how much Direct Loan you wish to borrow and of any financial aid/scholarships you are receiving. All funds and requests should be given in US dollars.
  4. First time borrowers of Direct Loans must complete Entrance Counseling. If Entrance Counseling is not completed, loans are not disbursed.

Applying for a GRAD PLUS loan

 Please note: students can apply for Grad PLUS loans only if they have already applied for the maximum amount of unsubsidized Direct Loan for which they are eligible.

  1. Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the applicable academic year. University of Saskatchewan’s federal code is: G22192.
  2. Complete a loan application to authorize a credit check and E-sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN) at Studentloans.gov.

First time student borrowers of Direct Loans must complete Entrance Counseling. If Entrance Counseling is not completed, loans are not disbursed.

 Applying for a Parent PLUS loan

 Please note: The student's loan(s) and the Parent PLUS loan application(s) may be submitted concurrently.

  1.  Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the applicable academic year. University of Saskatchewan’s federal code is: G22192.
  2. Complete a loan application to authorize a credit check and E-sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN) at Studentloans.gov

PLUS Loans help pay for education expenses up to the cost of attendance minus all other financial assistance. Interest is charged during all periods.

 

After you apply

We will determine your funding eligibility based on your cost of attendance and your FAFSA information. We will email you with your loan assessment and the dates the funding will be disbursed.

For most students, the disbursement schedule is in two equal installments as follows:

  • Fall term: disbursed late August/early September
    Exception: disbursed early October for first year undergraduate student borrowers

  • Winter term: disbursed early January

  • Graduate students will receive their funds in 3 disbursements – September, January and May.

All students receive their loan funds via electronic fund transfers to their student account to pay tuition and student fees first. A refund cheque for any remaining funds available will be mailed to your preference rank 1 address in your PAWS account within 3-5 business days. 

Borrower’s Responsibilities

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Students are required to maintain satisfactory academic standing in their program of study as established by the University to continue to be eligible for their US loans. Failure to do so may result in suspension of further financial aid. Satisfactory academic progress is measured in accordance with the University's published academic standards required for graduation.

Withdrawals and the Return of Title IV Funds

Title IV funds are awarded to a student under the assumption that the student will attend school for the entire period for which the assistance is awarded. When a student withdraws, the student may no longer be eligible for the full amount of Title IV funds that the student was originally scheduled to receive.

Exit Counselling

Exit Counseling is required when you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time. Exit counseling provides important information you need to prepare to repay your federal student loan(s). 

You can complete an Exit Counseling session online. The Exit Counseling Guide [PDF] is also a good introduction to the terms and conditions of your Direct Loan.

In-School Deferment

University of Saskatchewan’s Awards and Financial Aid office reports student registration via the National Student Loan Data Service (NSLDS). Loan repayment for previous and current loans is deferred for full time students. Students can verify the status of their US government loan(s) at NSLDS

Please contact Awards and Financial Aid to request in-school deferment.

Consumer Information

You can access links to comprehensive websites about U.S. financial aid and the University of Saskatchewan. If you require more information contact awards@usask.ca.