US Financial Aid: how to apply

Application checklist

The following list of documents are required for your loan application to be finalised and approved for disbursement:

  • Completed FAFSA
  • Completed ANU US Financial Aid Application
  • Electronic Confirmation of Enrolment issued (eCoE)
  • Cost of Attendance signed
  • Declaration letter signed
  • Entrance counseling for Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct loans
  • Entrance counseling for Direct PLUS Loan
  • MPN for Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct loans
  • MPN for Direct PLUS Loan and credit check
  • Signed disbursement letter and refund form

How to apply

The first step in the financial aid process is to complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Information on your FAFSA is transmitted to ANU as long as you list us on the application (our school code is: G10588), we will then use the information to assess your financial need for student aid.

If you have previously completed a FAFSA and did not nominate ANU, you can edit your school choices in your FAFSA. The FAFSA filing options are: paper FAFSA - processes in (7-10) days, or FAFSA on the web processes in 3 to 5 days.

If you provide all required information and required signatures, your FAFSA will be processed and a Student Aid Report (SAR) will be sent to you. You should check your SAR carefully for accuracy and keep a copy for your records.

The SAR also contains a Data Release Number (DRN), which appears on the first page in the upper right corner. On the electronic SAR the DRN is located in the box that contains the application receipt date, below the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The DRN is also located on your confirmation page. You will need the DRN when you call the Federal Student Aid Information Center to change certain information on your application, such as to add or delete a school code.

If your FAFSA is complete, an EFC will be printed in the upper right hand corner of the SAR. Your EFC is based on all of the information reported on your FAFSA. Your school will use the EFC to award your financial aid.

Note: Your EFC is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for school, nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. It is a number used by ANU to calculate the amount of federal student aid you are eligible to receive.In order to complete your FAFSA, you will need records of income earned in the year prior to when you will start school. You may also need records of your parents' income information if you are a dependent student.

You will need to provide financial information for the year preceeding the year in which you plan to study.

You may need to refer to:

  • your Social Security card. It is important that you enter your Social Security Number correctly
  • your driver's license (if any)
  • your W-2 forms and other records of money earned
  • your (and your spouse's, if you are married) Federal Income Tax Return. IRS 1040, 1040A, 1040 EZ , Foreign Tax Return, or Tax Return for Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Federal States of Micronesia, or Palau - for the year preceeding your study
  • your Parents' Federal Income Tax Return (if you are a dependent student) for the year preceeding study
  • your untaxed income records for the year preceeding study
  • your current bank statements
  • your current business and investment mortgage information, business and farm records, stock, bond and other investment records
  • your alien registration or permanent resident card (if you are not a U.S. citizen).

FAFSA on the Web will guide you through the questions that you must answer, and you can save your application and return to it later if you don't have the information you need to answer any of the questions. Keep these records, you may need them again. Do not mail your records to Federal Student Aid.

Important: You must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completely and accurately. If you do not provide all the information required to process your application, your federal student aid will be delayed and may be denied. The information provided may be verified by ANU, your state agency, or Federal Student Aid. If you receive federal student aid based on incorrect or fraudulent information, you will have to pay it back. You may also have to pay fines and fees. If you purposely provide false or misleading information on the FAFSA, you may be fined $20,000, sent to prison, or both. Help completing your FAFSA can be found online.

ANU US Financial Aid Application Form

In order to apply for Financial Aid at ANU you will need to complete the ANU US Financial Aid Application (PDF 96KB).

This form will require details about your choice of program, citizenship and loan amounts. You will also be required to declare any 'Estimated Financial Assistance (EFA)' you are going to be receiving towards your study at ANU. EFA includes but is not limited to any scholarships, payments (including sponsorships), other loans, grants, work awarded based on enrolment, and monies given to dual citizens from the Australian government or from any sources for your study at ANU.

Cost of Attendance and award letter

ANU determines your Cost of Attendance (COA), which will determine the amount you will be eligible to apply for. This amount covers tuition fees, books, course related costs, a once off laptop allowance, overseas health cover, transportation, travel costs, rent, dependent care expenses, living costs, miscellaneous expenses and origination fees (origination fees can be included in COA as long as you are awarded the Direct PLUS loan). See the example COA worksheet (PDF, 174.5KB) from 2011 (note this is an example only, each COA is customised to the student's particular circumstances). 

In your COA, we will include all aid that you will receive outside of the Direct Loan Program such as other loans, grants, scholarships, work awarded based on enrolment, and monies given to dual citizens from the Australian government. Please ensure you let us know if any of these are applicable to you and have not been included in your COA.

We will notify you of the loan amounts you are eligible to apply for, this will be done in an award letter. This letter lists all of your proposed financial aid awards commonly referred to as your award package. You should evaluate the aid offer carefully, keeping in mind that whatever amount you borrow must be paid back with interest. You have the right to decline the loan or to request a lower loan amount. In the award letter we will tell you how to do this.

Once you are satisfied with your award package you will need to return to us a signed copy of your COA along with the signed declaration letter confirming that all the details you have provided are correct.

Entrance counseling

Before making the first disbursement of a loan to a Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loan borrower, a school must ensure that the student has received entrance counseling. Similarly, a school must ensure a graduate or professional student who is borrowing a Direct PLUS Loan has received the PLUS entrance counseling. Note that loan counseling is not required for parent PLUS borrowers. This counseling is compulsory under Federal Regulations and helps you to understand your responsibilities regarding your loan. You may complete the entrance counseling online.

The Master Promissory Note

To take out a Direct Loan, you must complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN). The MPN is a legal document in which you promise to repay your loan(s) and any accrued interest and fees to the Department. It also explains the terms and conditions of your loan(s). To complete an MPN online, you will be required to use your Department of Education-issued PIN. If you do not have a PIN, you may request one from the official PIN site. A parent borrower must also request a PIN number from the PIN site to use when completing a Parent PLUS MPN.

You'll receive a disclosure statement that gives you specific information about any loan that we plan to disburse under your MPN, including the loan amount, fees, and the expected disbursement dates and amounts.

If you are applying for a Direct PLUS loan as a graduate/professional student, you'll need to complete and sign a PLUS MPN that is separate from the one that you use for your Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans.

PLUS Loan application & credit check

When you apply for a Direct PLUS Loan, the US Department of Education will check your credit history. This is done by completing the PLUS Loan application at studentloans.gov. To be eligible to receive a PLUS loan, you must not have an adverse credit history. If you are determined to have an adverse credit history, you may still receive a Direct PLUS Loan if you obtain an endorser who does not have an adverse credit history. An endorser is someone who agrees to repay the Direct PLUS Loan if you do not repay the loan. If you are a parent borrowing on behalf of your dependent student, the endorser may not be the student on whose behalf a parent obtains a Direct PLUS Loan.

Please note: The endorser must be a US Citizen or an eligible non-citizen. In some cases, you may also be able to obtain a Direct PLUS Loan if you document (to the satisfaction of the US Department of Education) that there are extenuating circumstances related to your adverse credit history.

Reduced admission deposit

The Registrar has approved that in limited circumstances students who are eligible for US Financial Aid may be permitted to pay a reduced deposit of $1,000 plus visa-length OSHC instead of the standard admissions deposit.

In order to be eligible for the reduced deposit you must have completed all steps with your Financial Aid application (including the credit check if applicable) and be borrowing an amount of aid that exceeds your tuition fees.

You will need to contact the Academic Standards & Quality Office to apply for the reduced deposit - this cannot be approved through the ANU Admissions Office. You must apply for the reduced deposit prior to accepting your ANU offer and paying the deposit - you cannot pay the standard deposit and receive a refund based on your Financial Aid eligibility.

Reapplying for aid

Your Cost of Attendance and award packages are worked out annually, this means that you are required to apply for Financial Aid every year. If you are due to continue in your program and have been receiving aid we will contact you via email to remind you to re-apply and advise you of the process. You will also be required to complete a new MPN every year as they do not roll across award years at Foreign Institutions.

Differences in applying for US Financial Aid at a Foreign Institution

When you apply for US Financial Aid at a Foreign Institution, there are several differences to applying at a US School. Foreign Institutions are not automatically notified when a student nominates a school on their FAFSA so it is worthwhile contacting Academic Standards & Quality Assurance to let us know that you are interested.

The calculation of award packages and disbursements of loan funds are also slightly different as the whole system is manually completed at Foreign Schools. Disbursements can also take a bit longer as the money is received electronically and needs to undergo a longer clearance process and will be dependent upon the exchange rate when the money is received. All disbursements will be applied to student accounts and then refunded to personal bank accounts where a credit balance is left after tuition fees are deducted. The money will be transferred in Australian Dollars to a nominated Australian bank account or credit card as per the refund form completed by students.

Annual application forms

The documents that you will need to complete each year are: