American citizens studying full time at the University of Ottawa can apply for student loans through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. Three types of loans are available:
- Direct Subsidized Loan: Awarded to students based on financial need. No interest is charged while you are studying either part time or full time, during the grace period or during deferral periods.
- Direct Unsubsidized Loan: Awarded to students based on financial need. Interest is charged during all periods, including the time you are in school as well as grace and deferral periods.
- Direct PLUS Loan: Unsubsidized loan for the parents of dependent students. Graduate and professional students may also apply for PLUS loans for their own expenses. Interest is charged during all periods.
How to apply for the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program
Find out if you are eligible
- Full-time undergraduate students must be enrolled in a minimum of nine units per term; graduate students must maintain full-time status.
- Programs of instruction offered via telecommunication methods are not eligible.
- Students in nursing programs, the Juris Doctor/American University (Washington College of Law or Michigan State University College of Law) program and the Doctor of Medicine program are not eligible.
- Students must maintain satisfactory academic standing: undergraduate students must successfully complete a minimum of 21 units and maintain a C+ average per academic year, and graduate students must pass all their courses.
- Students on academic probation are still eligible to receive funding; however, failure to pass their courses during the probation period will result in a suspension of loan funds.
Complete your application every year
- Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on the FAFSA website. Use the University of Ottawa federal code G06686. The information collected through this application is used by the US Department of Education to calculate the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
- Complete the appropriate Master Promissory Note(s).
- Complete the US Student Information Sheet (PDF) form and forward it to the Financial Aid and Awards Service.
- If you’re a first-time borrower, complete the entrance counselling element:
- Access the US Student Loans website and sign in to complete entrance counselling. The Financial Aid and Awards Service will not process your loan until it has received confirmation that you have successfully completed the counselling session. If you had already completed the Entrance Counselling, you’ve fulfilled this requirement.
- Once the Financial Aid and Awards Service has processed your application, a visa letter indicating your loan eligibility will be mailed to you at your mailing address in the United States.
After applying for the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program
Receiving your loan
Payments are usually disbursed in two or three instalments of equal amounts—September and January (and May, if applicable). Funds will be disbursed only once you’re enrolled. You’ll receive your loan funds via electronic fund transfers to your University of Ottawa student account (in Canadian dollars) on the scheduled disbursement dates (at the beginning of each term). If you are a late applicant, you’ll receive your funds on a rolling basis at various times throughout the academic year.
Understanding the cost of attendance
The amount of money you can borrow is determined by the annual limits for US government loans and the cost of attending the institution. The annual limits can be found on the US Department of Education website. The limits vary based on year of study, calculated cost of attendance, whether considered a dependent or independent and loan type. The cost of attendance is calculated based on actual tuition cost, incidental fees and compulsory insurance costs, a fixed book cost based on the program of study, a fixed personal and living cost based on accommodations on or off campus, actual local travel and the cost of one return trip to a student’s home per term.
Calculations of the cost of attendance are final and cannot be appealed. The cost of attendance will be adjusted annually.
When interest begins accumulating on your loan amount depends on your loan type. In all cases, direct subsidized and direct unsubsidized loans have a fixed interest rate, which is determined in October of each year. In addition to interest, you pay a loan fee of up to 3% of the principal amount of each direct subsidized or direct unsubsidized loan you receive. This fee is deducted from the loan amount before you receive the funds. This means the actual loan amount you receive will be less than the amount you will have to repay.
Maintain a satisfactory academic standing
You must maintain a satisfactory academic standing and immediately inform the Financial Aid and Awards Service of any changes, including a reduction in your course load or withdrawal from your program. You are allowed to drop, exchange and change courses as long as you meet the minimum course load requirements (undergraduate students must be enrolled for a minimum of nine units per term; graduate students must maintain full-time status). If you don’t meet these requirements, your student loans become payable six months from the date your courses were modified.
Complete exit counselling
Students nearing the end of their studies must complete the exit counselling element, accessible through the US Department of Education’s website.
Repay your loan
Direct subsidized and direct unsubsidized loans have a six-month grace period, which starts the day after you graduate, leave school or drop below half-time enrolment. You don’t have to begin making repayments until your grace period ends. Generally, you have from 10 to 25 years to repay your loan, depending on the repayment plan you choose. Your monthly payment amount is based on how much you borrowed and how long you will take to repay. Under some conditions, you may receive a deferral or a forbearance, which allows you to temporarily stop making payments.
Find out more about repaying your federal student loans.