U.S. Government Student Aid

U.S. Government Student Loans

The U.S. direct loan program includes two types of loans: William D. Ford Federal Direct Loans and Direct PLUS (Parent and Grad) loans. Students who are citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. may apply for loans through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program.

U.S. students attending the University of Guelph may apply for the following loans through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program:

  • Direct Loan - undergraduate (subsidized/unsubsidized)
  • Direct Loan - graduate and professional students (unsubsidized)
  • Grad PLUS Loan - graduate and professional students
  • Parent PLUS Loan - dependent undergraduate

Note: U.S. Pell Grants are not available to students attending foreign schools.

U.S. residents who also have Canadian citizenship may not apply to, or receive, Canadian government aid (such as OSAP) and U.S. Direct Loans at the same time.


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 for U.S. loan assistance. 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 at the University of Guelph is not eligible for funding through the U.S. Direct Loan Program.


U.S. Direct Loans are need-based (subsidized) and non-need based (unsubsidized) and are subject to annual limits. The maximum amount you can borrow each year depends on your grade level and on whether you are a dependent student or an independent student.

Annual Loan Limits for Dependent Undergraduates

Grade Level Dependent Undergraduate 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

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

Annual Loan Limits for Independent Undergraduates

Grade Level Independent Undergraduate 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

Annual Loan Limits for Graduate and Professional Students

All graduate students, and students in professional programs, are considered independent. Graduate and professional students are not eligible for subsidized loans. They can be eligible for the unsubsidized loan. The maximum annual loan limit is $20,500. Graduate students wishing to borrow additional funds may apply for Graduate Plus Loans.

Aggregate Loan Limits for All Students

  Dependent Students Independent Undergraduate Students Independent Graduate or Professional Students
Subsidized Loan Limit $23,000 $23,000 $65,500
Unsubsidized Loan Limit $8,000 $34,500 $73,000
Total Loan Limit $31,000 $57,500 $138,500

The graduate aggregate limit includes all federal loans received for undergraduate study.


  1. Complete a FAFSA application for the current academic year. University of Guelph's federal code is G06683
  2. E-sign a Master Promissory Note (MPNs). You must complete the MPN(s) for all loan types you wish to borrow, i.e. Subsidized/Unsubsidized, Graduate/Professional PLUS, Parent PLUS. MPN(s) must be completed each year when attending a foreign school.
  3. Once all the above are complete, email the University of Guelph's Financial Aid office at usloans@uoguelph.ca and advise them how much U.S. Direct loan(s) you wish to borrow. Include any other financial aid or scholarships you are receiving in the email. All funds and requests should be given in U.S. dollars
  4. Students who are first time borrowers of U.S. Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized or Plus loans must complete Entrance Counselling


To ensure that your funding is ready for the start of the academic year in September, we recommend that you complete all parts of the application process (FAFSA, completion of the MPN(s), and email to us) by July 15.


Ineligible Programs and Courses

The U.S. Department of Education does not provide funding to students enrolled in:

  • Any course which does not include an in-person component is ineligible for U.S. Federal loan funding including:
    • All distance education courses
    • All distance education programs
  • Certificate, diploma, non-degree and post-degree programs


  • U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are registered full-time in a degree program are eligible to apply.
  • Students registered in certificate, diploma or Continuing Studies programs, are not eligible.

The University of Guelph uses a credit system for undergraduate courses. The year is divided into three, four-month semesters (fall, winter and summer). Normally, each four-month course carries a weight of half a credit. Five courses equal 2.5 academic credits and is considered a 100% load during a single semester. Graduate students are not classified by their course weights; they are admitted to either full or part time programs of study. Undergraduate students must be enrolled at least half time to be eligible for U.S. direct loan funding. For graduate students, the status must be full-time attendance.

Undergraduate Student Eligibility

Number of academic credits per semester Percent load Eligible?
2.5 academic credits 100% Yes
1.5 academic credits 60% Yes
1.0 academic credits 40% No

Graduate Student Eligibility

Level of attendance Percent load Eligible?
Full-time 100% Yes
Part-time 33% No


All funding will be converted into Canadian dollars on the disbursement dates and will be disbursed electronically to the student's University of Guelph WebAdvisor account. Undergraduate students who are studying in the fall and winter semesters will receive the first disbursement in early September, and the second disbursement in January. Graduate students will receive their funding in three disbursements: September, January and May. The funding will be applied to tuition and fees first; any remaining funds will be refunded to you within 10 days of the disbursement dates to be used for books and living expenses. You will receive your refund through the PayMyTuition refund process; see the Refunds webpage for complete instructions. The borrower has the right to cancel all or a portion of their loan within 30 days of disbursement.


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 U.S. loans.

The Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy (SAP) applies to all students applying for U.S. Direct Loans under Title IV of the U.S. Higher Education Act. These types of loans include Direct Loans (Subsidized and Unsubsidized), Direct Parent PLUS and Direct Grad PLUS loan.

U.S. government policy (668.34-a) on Satisfactory Academic Policy stipulates that students must maintain certain academic standards in order to remain eligible for all types of U.S. Direct Loans and states: "An institution must establish a reasonable satisfactory academic progress policy for determining whether an otherwise eligible student is making satisfactory academic progress in his or her educational program and may receive assistance under the Title IV, HEA programs."

SAP Requirements

To maintain SAP, students receiving Title IV funds must:

  1. Maintain a minimum grade point average of 60% across courses attempted and meet the requirements of Continuation of Study in their Academic Calendar.
  2. Pursue studies on a full-time basis and complete a minimum of 67% of all attempted courses. The course completion rate will be reviewed annually at the end of each academic year. One-year Master's programs will be reviewed at the end of each semester.
  3. Maximum Time Frame: Students are required to complete their program of study within a limited amount of time, known as the maximum time frame (MTF). Undergraduate students may not take more than 150% of the credits required, including transfer credits, to complete their program requirement. For example, if the program requires 20.00 credits to graduate, you can not exceed 30.00 credit attempts. Graduate students may not take longer than 150% of the length of the program to complete their degree. Program lengths may vary, depending on the type of degree and the area of study. Further information on program lengths is published in the University calendar.

Examples of Program Completion Times:

Type of student Program length or credits required Maximum allowed
Graduate student 1-year course-based Master’s degree 1.5 years
Graduate student 2-year Master’s degree 3 years
Graduate student 4-year PhD 6 years
Undergraduate student 3-year general degree requiring 15.00 credits 22.00 credit attempts
Undergraduate student 4-year honours degree requiring 20.00 credits 30.00 credit attempts
Undergraduate student 4-year honours degree requiring 24.00 credits 36.00 credit attempts

SAP Monitoring

All students will have their academic progress reviewed at the end of each academic year, except for the one-year Master’s degree which will be reviewed at the end of each semester. Students who have not fulfilled the SAP requirements will not be eligible for U.S. Direct Loan funds for the subsequent academic year(s). Once the academic results are available (generally early May or at the end of August if a student registers for courses in the Summer semester), a student’s academic records are verified to ensure they have met SAP.

Incompletes, Withdrawals, Repeated Courses, Transfer of Credits

Incomplete and deferred grades:

  • are considered attempted but not included in the CGPA calculation until being replaced by a final grade.
  • are counted in the pace calculation. Withdrawals are not counted towards the attempted credits.

Repeated course grades are included in the CGPA as per academic regulations and included in the pace calculation.

Credits transferred from other programs or degrees are included in the SAP evaluation as per academic regulations.

Pace of Completion

Students must progress at a satisfactory “pace of completion”. Pace of completion is calculated by dividing the cumulative number of course units earned by the cumulative number of course units attempted. Students must successfully complete 67% of attempted course units cumulatively.

Pace of completion for a 4-year honours undergraduate degree requiring 20.00 credits:
Semester Credits attempted Minimum cumulative credits earned to meet pace
1 2.5 1.67
2 5.0 3.33
3 7.5 5.00
4 10.0 6.67
5 12.5 8.33
6 15.0 10.00
7 17.5 11.72
8 20.0 13.33
9 22.5 15.00
10 25.0 16.67
11 27.5 18.33
12 30.0 20.00

Failure to Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress

Students who do not meet the SAP requirements when academic progress evaluation is conducted will no longer be eligible for assistance under the Title IV program unless the student has appealed and has been placed on Financial Aid Probation. Students who do not meet the SAP requirements will receive a written notice to their University of Guelph email.

Financial Aid Suspension

If the student does not meet the SAP standards, the student will be placed on Financial Aid Suspension. The student will no longer be eligible for Title IV until they meet SAP requirements or successfully appeal the Financial Aid Suspension status.

Financial Aid Probation

If a student successfully appeals a Financial Aid Suspension, the student will be placed on Financial Aid Probation for one semester.

  • Probationary status will be lifted when the student meets SAP standards.
  • Students who do not meet SAP standards by the end of the probationary semester will be placed on Financial Aid Suspension and will be ineligible to receive Title IV funds for subsequent semesters until academic progress deficiencies are corrected. It is advisable that students on probation meet with their Program Counsellor and the Financial Aid Counsellor to ensure that satisfactory academic progress can be meet.

For more information, students may review the University's published academic standards.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals

Students not fulfilling SAP requirements will receive an email at their University of Guelph email address only. Upon receiving notification, a student may appeal within ten business days from the date of the email. The appeal submission must include:

  1. A letter from the student explaining:
    • The student’s circumstances/reason(s) for not meeting SAP requirements;
      Please note: an appeal may be on the basis of a student’s illness or injure, death of an immediate family member, or other special circumstances
    • Steps that will be taken to improve your academic progress and allow you to satisfy SAP requirements in the future;
    • Any other relevant information
  2. Supporting documentation relevant to the appeal such as medical documentation, letters from their academic advisors, an academic plan that outlines strategies for academic improvement, etc.

The appeal must be submitted to usloans@uoguelph.ca

Only complete files will be reviewed. The decision made by the SAP Appeal Committee will be sent to the student’s University of Guelph email address. The appeal decision may be:

  • A reinstatement of eligibility for US Direct Loans, or
  • A financial probationary period with conditions, or
  • A denial of US Direct Loans

All decisions made by the SAP Appeal Committee are final and are not appealable.

Students Denied U.S. Direct Loan

If a student is denied U.S. Direct Loan after an appeal but in subsequent years meets SAP requirements, it is the student’s responsibility to notify the U.S. Loan financial aid counsellor at usloans@uoguelph.ca that SAP requirements have been met and to apply for U.S. Direct Loans. The U.S. loan financial aid counsellor will verify SAP requirements have been met prior to originating any U.S. Direct Loans.


When you leave your studies (graduation, withdrawal or course load reduction to less than half-time) you must complete the Exit Counselling interview at Exit Counselling and begin repayment of your student loans.


U.S. federal aid regulations mandate a Return to Title IV Funds (R2T4) calculation when a student receiving Title IV financial aid (U.S. Direct Loans [subsidized and unsubsidized], Parent PLUS loans or Grad PLUS loans) withdraws from the University. If a student ceases enrolment, or withdraws from all courses in the semester and the student received U.S. federal financial aid, the University must determine if these funds are required to be returned to the U.S. government. If a student never attends, the loan is cancelled and all funds are returned to the Department (no R2T4 calculation).


  • Withdrawal date: the date on which a student stopped attendance at the University by officially withdrawing.
  • Date of determination: The data the University determined that the student stopped attendance.
  • The R2T4 requirements do not apply if a student withdraws from some, but not all of their courses (e.g., dropping one course).


There are two methods for voluntary withdrawal: cancelling a semester registration or withdrawing from a semester registration. Prior to the start of the semester, a student may cancel a semester registration by dropping all courses using WebAdvisor. As of the first day of classes and once the semester has started, a student may withdraw completely from all courses by dropping all courses through WebAdvisor. Additional information on the withdrawal process is available in the student Academic Calendar.

Procedure to follow to officially withdraw is available in your appropriate Academic Calendar. Undergraduate students use Section VIII of their calendar and Graduate students use Section II – Cancellation of Registration/Voluntary Withdrawal/Required to Withdraw.

Exception: Doctor of Veterinary (DVM) students should refer to the Voluntary Withdrawal section in the DVM Program Information, section X of their Academic Calendar.

Leave of Absence: The formal leave of absence policy for Graduate students is available in Section II General Regulations – Leave of Absence.

Return of Funds

U.S. Department of Education regulations state that a school must return loan funds if a student has not completed more than 60% of the payment period. If a student received more loan funding than was "earned," the excess funds must be returned by the school and/or the student. The amount of money to be returned is determined by a calculation ("Return to Title IV" Calculation) that includes the number of school days completed.

The R2T4 calculation may result in a reduction of the student’s US federal loan(s) if the student attended 60 percent or less of the semester. The R2T4 calculation is based on the following:

  • The number of days the student attended
  • The number of days in the semester
  • The total amount of U.S. Direct Loan aid awarded, accepted and/or disbursed

Calculation of R2T4 Amount

  1. If a student withdraws during the loan payment period, the R2T4 amount to be returned will be the amount of unearned aid. This will be determined, as at the date of student withdrawal, on the basis of the calculation formulas provided by the U.S. Department of Education.
  2. A credit balance on a withdrawn student financial account will be put on hold until the R2T4 is calculated.
  3. The percentage of aid earned in any loan payment period will be determined on the basis of the percentage of the student’s attendance.
    • The number of calendar days completed by the student in the payment period is divided by the total number of calendar days of the payment period excluding scheduled breaks of five days or more.
    • This calculation is represented by the following formula:
      number of days completed / total number of days in loan payment period = % of payment period completed.
  4. If the percentage calculated through application of this formula is greater than 60%, the amount of aid earned by the student is considered to be 100% of the applicable aid.
  5. Where this percentage calculated through application of this formula is less than or equal to 60%, the amount of aid earned by the student is determined by multiplying this percentage by the total amount of the aid disbursed.
  6. The unearned amount of aid will be the amount equivalent to the remaining percentage of the relevant payment period.
    • For example, if the student withdraws after completing 40% of the payment period, the R2T4 or unearned amount will be 60% of the applicable aid.
  7. If a return is required, the office will determine the amount of unearned Title IV aid the University is responsible for returning to the U.S. Department of Education. The amount of funds due from the University is calculated by adding all the institutional charges (tuition and essential supplementary fees) incurred by the withdrawal date, then multiplying that total by the percentage of the period the student did not complete.
  8. The University will notify the holders of the loans of the student’s withdrawal date via National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).
  9. The withdrawal date will be the date on record in the University’s student information system.
  10. Funds returned to the U.S. Department of Education on behalf of a student are used to repay the current year’s loans in the following order:
    1. Unsubsidized U.S. Direct Loan
    2. Subsidized U.S. Direct Loan
    3. Parent PLUS for Undergraduate students
    4. Grad PLUS for Graduate students
  11. If a student completes more than 60% of the payment period, a student has earned 100% of the Title IV funds the student was scheduled to receive during the period and there are no unearned funds to return.
  12. The University will calculate the R2T4 amount, including the University’s and the student’s portion of that amount, within 30 days from the date the institution determined the student withdrew and return the University’s unearned portion of the R2T4 amount to the US government within 45 days from the date the institution determined the student withdrew.
  13. If the amount of Title IV funds to be returned, based on the Title IV aid earned by the student, is greater than the amount for the University to return, the student is responsible for repaying the difference between the Net loans disbursed to the student and the Total loans the University must return. These loans are repaid to the loan holders according to the terms of the borrower’s master promissory note (MPN).

Post-Withdrawal Disbursement

If the amount disbursed to the student is less than the amount the student earned, the student is eligible to receive a post-withdrawal disbursement of the earned aid that was not received. Notification from the Financial Aid office will be sent via a student’s University of Guelph email address within 30 days of the date of a school’s determination that a student has withdrawn. The communication will state whether the post-withdrawal disbursement includes loan funds and counsel the student to repay the loan funds according to the terms of the promissory note should they choose to accept all or a portion of the funds. The student may choose to decline the loan funds so that additional debt is not incurred. The deadline for the student to respond to this communication is 14 days. If a student fails to respond by the deadline, or responds after the deadline, it is up to the school to determine whether to make the disbursement of loan funds. Post-withdrawal disbursements can’t be made after 180 days of the date of determination of withdrawal.

Other Information

  1. Prior to leaving school, Direct Loan borrowers must complete exit counselling. The Direct Loan Exit counselling will explain your rights and responsibilities as a Direct Loan borrower. The entire session takes approximately 30 minutes and involves the completion of a questionnaire. Learn more about exit counselling.
  2. For information on the University’s Refund Policy, please visit the Refunds webpage. On this webpage, students will find information on refunds from dropping courses or withdrawing from a semester, the basis for a refund, the refund schedules and how to receive a refund.
  3. Return of Title IV funds requirements and deadlines:
Responsible Requirement Deadline
School Determine withdrawal date Within 30 days of the withdrawal
School Return any unearned Title IV funds As soon as possible, no later than 45 days after school determines student withdrew
School Post-withdrawal disbursement No later than 180 days of the date of determination of withdraw
School Written notification to student about opportunity to accept all or part of post-withdrawal disbursement Within 30 days after school determines student withdrew
Student Respond to school instructions regarding post-withdrawal disbursement. If there is no response from the borrower, no post-withdrawal disbursement can be made 14 days


The interest rate depends on the loan type and the first disbursement date of the loan (for most loan types). The table below shows interest rates for direct loans that were first disbursed on or after July 1, 2023 and before July 1, 2024. The interest rates are fixed rates for the life of the loan.

Loan Type Borrower Type Interest Rate
Direct Subsidized Loans Undergraduate 5.50%
Direct Unsubsidized Loans Undergraduate 5.50%
Direct Unsubsidized Loans Graduate or Professional 7.05%
Direct PLUS Loans Parents and Graduate or Professional Students 8.05%


Other U.S. Government Student Aid

Students attending foreign schools are not eligible for grants, such as the Pell Grant from the U.S. government.


Private Loans

Private loans are also available to fund your studies (e.g., Sallie Mae Student Loans or Vermont Student Assistance). They may be borrowed on their own, or in addition to U.S. direct loans.