US (William D. Ford) Direct Loan Program

Murdoch University is registered with the US Department of Education under the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program.

We administer three types of loans available to US Citizens or eligible non-citizens who are enrolled at least half-time in a bachelor, masters or PhD program at Murdoch University:

Pell Grants and Perkins loans are not available to students studying at schools outside of the US. 

Murdoch employs our own Satisfactory Academic Progress for US Financial Aid Recipients. Download the PDF to find out more. 

  • How much can I borrow?

    The following chart shows the annual and aggregate limits for subsidised and unsubsidised loans.

    Year Dependent Students (except students whose parents are unable to obtain PLUS Loans) Independent Students (and dependent undergraduate students whose parents are unable to obtain PLUS Loans)
    First-Year Undergraduate Annual Loan Limit $5,500—No more than $3,500 of this amount may be in subsidised loans. $9,500—No more than $3,500 of this amount may be in subsidised loans.
    Second-Year Undergraduate Annual Loan Limit $6,500—No more than $4,500 of this amount may be in subsidised loans. $10,500—No more than $4,500 of this amount may be in subsidised loans.
    Third-Year and Beyond Undergraduate Annual Loan Limit $7,500—No more than $5,500 of this amount may be in subsidised loans. $12,500—No more than $5,500 of this amount may be in subsidised loans.
    Graduate or Professional Students Annual Loan Limit Not Applicable (all graduate and professional students are considered independent) $20,500 (unsubsidised only)
    Subsidised and Unsubsidised Aggregate Loan Limit $31,000—No more than $23,000 of this amount may be in subsidised loans. $57,500 for undergraduates—No more than $23,000 of this amount may be in subsidised loans.

    $138,500 for graduate or professional students—No more than $65,500 of this amount may be in subsidised loans. The graduate aggregate limit includes all federal loans received for undergraduate study.
    Direct PLUS loan PLUS borrowers are able to borrow the entire cost of attendance (as calculated by Murdoch University) minus any other financial aid or scholarship.
  • What are the interest rates for Federal Student Loans?

    The interest rate varies depending on the loan type and (for most types of federal student loans) the first disbursement date of the loan. The table below provides interest rates for direct loans first disbursed on or after 1 July 2018.

    Loan Type Borrower Type Loans first disbursed on or between
    01 July 2019 – 01 July 2020
    Direct Subsidised Loans and Direct Unsubsidised Loans Undergraduate 4.53%
    Direct Unsubsidised Graduate or Professional 6.08%
    Direct Unsubsidised Graduate or Professional 7.08%

    All interest rates shown in the chart above are fixed rates for the life of the loan.

    Note: The interest rates for federal student loans are determined by federal law. If there are future changes to federal law that affect federal student loan interest rates, we will update this page to reflect those changes.

    Comprehensive information about interest on your loan is available on the Federal Student Aid website.

  • Are there any other fees for Federal Student Loans?

    Most federal student loans have loan fees that are a percentage of the total loan amount. The loan fee is deducted proportionately from each loan disbursement you receive while enrolled in school. 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 chart below shows the loan fees for Direct Subsidised Loans, Direct Unsubsidised Loans, and Direct PLUS Loans first disbursed on or after Oct. 1, 2017.

    Loan Type First Disbursement Date Loan Fee
    Direct Subsidised Loans and Direct Unsubsidised Loans On or after Oct/1/17 and before Oct/1/18 1.062%
    On or after Oct/1/18 and before Oct/1/19 1.059%
    Direct PLUS Loans On or after Oct/1/17 and before Oct/1/18 4.248%
    On or after Oct/1/18 and before Oct/1/19 4.236%

    The official 3-year Cohort Default Rate is 3.4 as of the 2017 fiscal year.

  • Budgeting

    Once the amount of your certified loan(s) is finalised, it is recommended that you create a budget to plan for the coming year.

    Please ensure that you have enough funds to cover accommodation, books, supplied and personal expenses during the first two months of study in the event that there is a delay in your financial aid being certified and disbursed.

    Remember that minimising debt now will help you manage your loan more easily once you graduate and that its always cheaper to save than to borrow. When making spending choices whilst studying in Australia, you should always spend with the aim of minimizing your debt; live like a student now so that you don’t have to live like a student after you graduate.

  • Eligibility for financial assistance

    To be eligible for the Direct Loan Program you must meet the following criteria:

    • Be enrolled in at least 50% of a full time unit load for an enrolment period in an eligible Bachelors, Masters or PhD program. Cannot enrol in distance, external or online units.
    • Agree to and maintain satisfactory academic progress (new 2018 policy) whilst complying with the conditions of your student visa DoHA.
    • Be a citizen or eligible non-citizen of the United States.
    • Be in compliance with Selective Service registration requirements if you are male and between the ages of 18-25.
    • File a Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
    • Direct PLUS loan borrowers must pass a simple credit check.
    • Comply with requests of documentation for verification purposes as per your Student Aid Report.
    • Submit all documentation required by Murdoch University to process your loan application.
    • Not defaulted on an education loan or owe a refund on an education grant.
    • Not convicted of any offense under State or Federal Law involving the sale or possession of a controlled substance while receiving Title IV funding.
    • Not studying a Nursing program at Murdoch University.
    • Not studying Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma program or any course that cannot be completed without external (online) units
    • Not undertaking research or study in the United States towards your Murdoch University course
    This infographic provides a quick overview of the basic eligibility criteria for Federal Student Aid.
  • How to apply

    Please note that deadlines do apply and if you are submitting your FAFSA close to, or after, commencement of the study period, you will need to contact as an award letter may not be issued after the deadline.

    These are the things you need to do to be considered and access financial aid:

    • Apply to study at Murdoch University.
    • Apply for your personal identification number (PIN) to e-sign a federal student aid application. Note that students and parents (for dependant students) must have an individual PIN.
    • Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) available at or (OPE IDCode: 025796, School Code: G25796).

    Continuing students may be able to complete a renewal FAFSA. Please note that your FAFSA application is only valid if completed 90 days or less before the commencement of the relevant study period. (For example: if you are starting studies in Semester 2 2015 (27 July 2015), your application is only valid if submitted after 27 April 2015.)

    • You will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) 1-4 weeks after you submit your FAFSA. This can be viewed online at the FAFSA website.
    • Check your SAR is accurate, and if not make any necessary changes at FAFSA. You will need your PIN to access your SAR.

    Your SAR provides necessary information for Murdoch to assess your eligibility for Federal Student Aid and to determine your Cost of Attendance (COA) and Financial Needs Assessment (FNA). These calculations will form the basis of your Financial Aid Award within the borrowing limits.

    • Download an Application for Financial Aid at Murdoch University and email the completed form to
    • Entrance Counselling is required for undergraduate or postgraduate students before you can receive your first Direct Subsidised, Direct Unsubsidised or Direct PLUS Loan. This step applies to first time applicants only
    • Sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN), which is a formal and binding contract with the U.S. Department of Education that indicates your intention to repay your loan. This needs to be completed annually for students studying at Foreign Institutions. Funds cannot be disbursed unless you complete this form. If you are a graduate/professional student and wish to borrow Grad PLUS loan, you must also sign a Grad PLUS MPN. Graduate/professional students for U.S. purposes include students studying Vet and Law as an undergraduate at Murdoch University.

    Once the above items have been completed Murdoch University will be able to determine the loan type you are eligible for. We will then calculate your Cost of Attendance (CoA) and Financial Need Assessment (FNA) and issue a Financial Aid Award letter. Award Letters cannot be issued too far in advance therefore if you have applied early you may not receive your Award Letter until closer to commencement.

    • Complete a request for refund form so that we can transfer funds for living expenses to your Australian Bank Account
    • Accept an Offer of Admission from Murdoch by paying the deposit as outlined on your offer letter – unfortunately you are not able to accept your offer with Federal Student Aid. Please accept at least 4 weeks before the start of semester so you will have ample time to apply for your student visa and travel to Australia.
  • What happens next?

    Once you return the signed award letter confirming the amount you would like to borrow your US Federal Aid will be released directly to your student record. This is called a disbursement and will be made in two separate portions usually around the commencement of classes in the two main study periods, February and July.  Students who commence mid-year will receive their disbursements in July and again the following February.

    Where you have borrowed enough to cover tuition and living expenses, tuition fees will be deducted first, and any remaining credit balance refunded to your nominated bank account. You can generally expect to receive a refund around the 2nd week of classes.

  • Cost of attendance

    The Cost of Attendance (CoA) is an estimate of your educational expenses for the study period in an Award Year which runs from July to June).

    Your specific CoA allowances and costs will appear on your Murdoch University Financial Aid Award letter and will specify the total amount you may borrow under the Direct Loan Program minus any other aid (i.e. Scholarships or Centrelink benefits if applicable) you may be receiving for that award period.

    Allowable costs calculated in your CoA are detailed below. Allowances are applied on a pro-rata basis per month of eligible enrolment of study.

    Students enrolled solely in semesters 1 and 2 can expect to receive a pro-rata value of each allowance of 8 months.

    Murdoch University will estimate your CoA firstly in Australian dollars and subsequently convert to US dollars using the current exchange rate at that time. The USD amount will appear on your JCU Financial Aid Award letter. Subsequently, upon disbursement of the loan amounts to the University the funds are converted again, this time from USD to AUD.

    The two conversion points as explained above may result in variances to the loan amount due to exchange rate fluctuations between the USD and AUD. As the two conversions above occur at different points during the year, each conversion will result in a rate risk due to movement in the USD/AUD exchange rate. It is the borrower’s responsibility to understand and accept this risk as part of studying at Murdoch University and borrowing US Financial Aid. The University is unable to set any exchange rates.

    Cost Description

    As stated on your Letter of Offer.

    For an indication of costs check the Tuition Fee Calculator and refer to the relevant year, student status (international/domestic) and course.

    If you enrol in a reduced study load your CoA will be adjusted to the tuition fees actually incurred

    Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF)

    This is dependent on your enrolment. Find out more about this fee.

    Books and supplies

    Full value (12 months) = $1,800

    Pro-rata for two semesters = $1,200.


    Full value (12 months) = $1,800

    Pro-rata for two semesters = $1,200.

    Overseas Student Health Cover

    As stated on your letter of offer and in accordance with your student visa conditions.

    Living expenses

    Full value (12 months) = $33,600

    Pro-rata for two semesters = $22,400.

    Loan fees

    1.068% for Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans first disbursed on or after 10/1/15 and before 10/1/16.

    4.272% for Direct Plus Loans first disbursed On or after 10/1/15 and before 10/1/16.


    A once off payment of $4,000 at the beginning of your studies.


    Average cost of a computer $1,500 (receipt required) one off payment when requested.

  • Leaving the program / completing your studies

    When you complete your program, withdraw, take a leave-of-absence or drop below half-time enrolment, Murdoch University will notify your lender and your grace period will begin. The grace period will give you six months before you must start making monthly principal and interest payments on your loans. If you re-enter university at least halftime during your grace period, the grace period is usually renewed for another six months so you have the full grace period available when you leave university again.

    You must also undertake Exit Counselling online: Exit Counseling.

    Students who apply for a Murdoch University Leave of Absence from their studies may be eligible to also take a Federal Aid Leave of Absence in certain circumstances.  Enquiries should be made to the Murdoch University Financial Aid Administrator before you go on LoA. If you are not eligible or do not apply for a Federal Aid LoA, you will be reported as ‘withdrawn’ to the US Department of Education, even if your enrolment status at Murdoch University is LoA.

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