SOAS University of London


About US Loans

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William D Ford Federal Direct Loans 

Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans (formerly known as Stafford Loans) and Plus Loans are available through the Direct Loan programme operated by the US Education Department.  Direct Loans are educational loans to assist US citizens with the costs of studying.  You should consider the Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Loans first as usually this is the cheapest way of borrowing. If you need additional funding you should then consider a Direct Plus Loan. The maximum total borrowed from Direct and private loans cannot exceed the annual maximum Cost of Attendance. For Direct Loan application details please see How to Apply for a US Federal Loan. Please note that only on-campus degree students are eligible for Federal Direct Loans at SOAS. Students studying by distance-learning, or at certificate or diploma level are not eligible.

The School Federal Direct Loan Code is G06694 listed under ‘School of Oriental and African Studies - University of London'.

If you have any questions about applying for US loans please contact the Student Loans Officer -

Level of Study Mode of Study Eligible for US Federal Direct Loans Eligible for US Private educational loans
Undergraduate Foundation year without a language year abroad Yes Yes
3 years full time Yes Yes
4 years full time with a language year abroad Whole degree ineligible Yes
Postgraduate Masters 1 year full time (including on campus, part time variants if your visa allows part time study) Yes Yes
2 years full time with Intensive Language study abroad Whole degree ineligible Yes
Postgraduate Research 3 years full time plus 1 year full time for writing up Yes Yes
Interest Rates:

The US Federal Government now calculates and sets the interest rates for Direct Loans on an annual basis starting from July 1st each year. The interest rate that applies to your loan is determined by the date of disbursement. Rates are currently as follows:

  2019 - 20 Academic Year 2020 - 21 Academic Year
Date of Disbursement between: July 1st 2019 - June 30th 2020 July 1st 2020 - June 30th 2021

Undergraduate Direct Loans

(Subsidized and Unsubsidized)

4.53% 2.75%

Postgraduate Direct Loans



6.08% 4.30%

Direct PLUS Loans

(Parent PLUS and Grad PLUS)

7.08% 5.30%

There may be further changes as Congress continues to negotiate and decide the federal aid package. To keep up to date with changes to US Federal Loans please see Federal Student Aid.

Undergraduate Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Loans

Dependent undergraduate degree students can borrow: 

Subsidized (the government pays the interest on this part of the loan until you start repayment): $3,500 in your first year, $4,500 in your second year, $5,500 in your third and subsequent years. 

Unsubsidized: $2,000 each year. Additional funding can be borrowed by your parents via the Parent Plus. 

Certain categories of undergraduates can be classified as 'independent' and be eligible for additional Unsubsidized funds but ineligible for the Parent Plus.

Undergraduate Origination fee: 1.057%.

Postgraduate Unsubsidized Direct Loans

Unsubsidized: not based on financial need; interest is charged during all periods. The maximum postgraduate Unsubsidized Loan is $20,500.

Postgraduate Origination fee: 1.057% 

Postgraduate Research students are eligible to borrow loans during full time, part time (half time) and extension of writing up (continuation) research status periods. Extension of enrolment and under examination research statuses are not eligible.

Direct Plus Loan 

Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct loans have lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options so if you are eligible you should apply for these loans first. You may need to take out additional loans to top up your funding.  You should first consider a Direct Plus Loan: Parent Plus for dependent undergraduates or Grad Plus for postgraduate degree students. Please note that Plus Loans are subject to credit checking and applicants cannot have an adverse credit history. 

Graduate/Parent Plus Origination fee: 4.228%

Private Loans

There may be some private loans available to US students studying abroad. Private loans are subject to credit checking. Some SOAS students in 2019 had Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loans. We are not currently aware of other US loan providers of private loans for international study but we do not have a preferred lender list. You should consider terms and conditions carefully in comparison with Federal Direct Loans. You will need to send details of the lender and loan required on the  US Loans Application Form (pdf; 11kb)   to well in advance of the start of term so that the loan can be certified.