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US government loans

Types of loans

US students attending McGill may apply for the following loans through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program:

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

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


Eligibility

  • US 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, and students in any nursing program are not eligible.

Loan amounts & limits

For all students (undergraduate and graduate/professional) the US Direct Loan Program has annual as well as lifetime loan limits that vary according to a student's:

  • Grade level
  • Status (dependent or independent)
  • Loan type: need-based (subsidized) or non-need based (unsubsidized and PLUS)
  • Cost of attendance (student cannot borrow more than this amount)

Annual limits—undergraduate/dependent

An undergraduate's "dependent" status is determined by information on their FAFSA. The student can borrow up to the cost of attendance or up to the specified loan limit (whichever comes first). The loan is divided into two amounts:

Base amount
  • Subsidized and/or unsubsidized (determined by the loan calculation: cost of attendance minus estimated financial contribution and financial aid received)
Unsubsidized amount
  • A standard amount of $2000 (US) is available to all dependant undergraduate students.
  • If the parent of a dependent undergraduate is denied a PLUS loan, the student is eligible for an additional unsubsidized loan amount that increases the annual loan limit.
Grade Level Base Amount Sub/Unsub Direct Loan Unsubsidized Amount Direct Loan Annual Loan Limit Additional Amount Unsubsidized Direct Loan if  PLUS Loan Denied Direct Loan Limit if PLUS Denied
First Year -Freshman $3,500 $2,000 $5,500 $4,000 $9,500
Second Year - Sophomore $4,500 $2,000 $6,500 $4,000 $10,500
Third Year - Junior $5,500 $2,000 $7,500 $5,000 $12,500
Fourth Year - Senior $5,500 $2,000 $7,500 $5,000 $12,500

Annual limits—undergraduate/independent

An undergraduate's "independent" status is determined by information on their FAFSA. The student can borrow up to the cost of attendance or up to the specified loan limit (whichever comes first). The loan is divided into two amounts:

Base amount
  • Subsidized and/or unsubsidized (determined by the loan calculation: cost of attendance minus estimated financial contribution and financial aid received)
Unsubsidized amount
  • Independent undergraduate students are eligible for unsubsidized loan amounts that are based on grade level (see chart below).
Grade Level Base Amount Sub/Unsub Direct Loan Unsubsidized Amount Direct Loan Annual Direct Loan Limit
First Year - Freshman $3,500 $6,000 $9,500
Second Year - Sophomore $4,500 $6,000 $10,500
Third Year - Junior $5,500 $7,000 $12,500
Fourth Year - Senior $5,500 $7,000 $12,500

Annual limits—graduate/professional

A graduate/professional student can borrow up to the cost of attendance or up to the specified loan limit (whichever comes first). The annual unsubsidized Direct Loan limit is $20,500.

Grade Level

Annual Unsubsidized Direct Loan Limit

Graduate/Professional

$20,500

Lifetime limits for US Direct Loans

Grade Level/Status

Aggregate (lifetime) Loan Limits

Dependant Undergraduate Student

$31,000
(no more than $23,000 may be subsidized)

Independant Undergraduate or Dependant Undergraduate whose parent is ineligible for PLUS

$57,500
(no more than $23,000 may be subsidized)

Graduate/Professional Student

$138,500
(no more than $65,500 may be subsidized)

How to apply

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. McGill’s federal code is: G06677
  2. E-sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN)
  3. Go to Minerva >> Financial Aid/Awards tab >> Financial Aid Menu >> Apply for US Direct Loans to complete an application for Direct Loans. You will be required to:
    • Enter your Social Security Number
    • Enter the name(s) and amount(s) of any non-McGill financial aid you have been awarded
    • Choose the loan types for which you wish to apply
  4. First time student borrowers of Direct Loans must complete Entrance Counseling. If Entrance Counseling is not completed, loans are not disbursed.

Applying for a GRAD PLUS loan

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. McGill's federal code is: G06677
  2. Complete a loan application to authorize a credit check and E-sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN) at Studentloans.gov.
  3. Go to Minerva >> Financial Aid/Awards tab >> Financial Aid Menu >> Apply for US Direct Loans to complete an application for Direct Loans. You will be required to:
    • Enter your Social Security Number
    • Enter the name(s) and amount(s) of any non-McGill financial aid you have been awarded
    • Choose the loan types for which you wish to apply
  4. First time student borrowers of Direct Loans must complete Entrance Counseling. If Entrance Counseling is not completed, loans are not disbursed.

Credit checks: should a Direct PLUS loan credit check be denied due to adverse credit history, the borrower may:

  • secure an approved endorser (who must pass the credit check), or
  • appeal the decision based on extenuating circumstances

In either of the above cases, the PLUS loan applicant (not the endorser) will be required to complete PLUS Counseling. This is not the same as Entrance Counseling.

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. McGill's federal code is: G06677.
  2. Complete a loan application to authorize a credit check and E-sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN) at Studentloans.gov.
  3. Have the student go to Minerva >> Financial Aid/Awards tab >> Financial Aid Menu >> Apply for US Direct Loans to complete an application for Direct Loans. The student will be required to:
    • Enter the student borrower's Social Security Number
    • Enter the name(s) and amount(s) of any non-McGill financial aid the student has been awarded
    • Choose the PLUS loan application and enter the requested information

Credit checks: should a Direct PLUS loan credit check be denied due to adverse credit history, the borrower may:

  •     secure an approved endorser (who must pass the credit check), or
  •     appeal the decision based on extenuating circumstances
In either of the above cases, the PLUS loan applicant (not the endorser) will be required to complete PLUS Counseling. This is not the same as Entrance Counseling.

Deadlines

All steps in the US Direct Loan, Parent/Grad PLUS loan application process must be completed by June 1st in order to ensure that funds are available for the fall term fee payment deadline (December 1st for students registering in the winter term).

Late applications are processed on a rolling basis and therefore there is no guarantee that funds will be disbursed by McGill fee payment deadlines.

By US Department of Education regulations a US loan (subsidized, unsubsidized, Parent/Grad PLUS) cannot be originated after the student’s study period end date.


Tracking the status of your application

To verify the status of your application(s) go to Minerva >> Financial Aid/Awards tab >> Financial Aid Menu >> My Financial Aid & Awards. Once all application information is received and processed, the awarded loan types and amounts are available on Minerva.

Please note that during peak periods (June/July) updates and processing can take several weeks.


Receiving your loan

Once the loan has been processed, a letter confirming your loan amount(s) will be e-mailed to the address on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). When the loan(s) amounts and disbursement dates have been updated on Minerva, a second notification will be sent to your McGill e-mail.

You must accept the loan(s) on Minerva >>  My Financial Aid & Awards tab >> Financial Aid Menu >> My Financial Aid & Awards in order for the money to be disbursed into your student fee account. This must be done at least 10 days prior to the first disbursement date listed on Minerva. After you accept the loans, the loan funds are disbursed to your student fee account (in Canadian funds) on the scheduled disbursement dates, if you are registered full time by these respective dates.

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 freshman student borrowers
  • Winter term: disbursed early January (including freshmen student borrowers)

Med students years 1, 2 and 3 are the exception. For these students, the loans are disbursed in three equal installments:

  • Late August /early September 
  • January
  • Late April

All students receive their loan funds via electronic fund transfers to their McGill student fee account. 


Deferring your existing US government loan(s)

McGill's Scholarships and Student 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.