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US Federal Aid

ATTENTION: Students with an offer to commence in July 2020 - Due to uncertainty around COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Award Letters will not be issued automatically.

Students with an offer to commence in February 2021 - Award Letters will be issued in August/September. Please contact with any queries.


To be eligible for US Federal Aid, you must:

- Be enrolled at least half time in an eligible program. 'Half time' is defined as at least 6 credit points in the main semester-long study periods (eg Study Period 1 & 2).

- Be enrolled internally at James Cook University Townsville or Cairns campuses, and not be undertaking external (online) subjects.

- Understand the University’s satisfactory academic progress and maximum time frame stipulations.

- Be a citizen or eligible non-citizen of the United States.

- Not be in default on an education loan or education grant.

- Not owe a refund on any Title IV funding.

- Not have been convicted of any offence under US law involving the sale or possession of a controlled substance while receiving Title IV funding.

- Be in compliance with Selective Service registration requirements if you are male and between the ages of 18-25.

- File a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) entering JCU’s school code G12206 for the relevant loan period.

- For PLUS loans, the borrower must also pass credit checks.

- Comply with requests for documentation if selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education and relevant Federal legislation.

- To be eligible you must also submit all documentation required by James Cook University to verify your eligibility and determine your financial need.

Program Eligibility

Not all programs offered at JCU are eligible for US Federal Aid. These include:

- Study Abroad (6 month/12 month length programs) and Exchange. Students may still be eligible through the Financial Aid office at their US school

- Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery

- Bachelor of Dental Surgery

- Bachelor of Veterinary Science

- Bachelor of Nursing Science

- All Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma programs

- All Undergraduate Foundation, Certificate and Diploma programs

- Any program undertaken in online/distance-study mode

- Any program containing compulsory (core) subjects which are only available in a primarily online attendance mode (eg external and/or in some cases limited mode).  For example, some of the programs that may fall into this category include*:

  • - Master of Public Health
  • - Master of Public Health & Tropical Medicine
  • - Master of Education
  • - Master of Social Work (PQ)

* This list is not conclusive and program eligibility may need to be confirmed in conjunction with the course coordinator, and based on the subject delivery information available at the time of application.

Online subject limitations

The US Department of Education prohibits foreign schools from administering US Federal Aid for programs (degrees) which include teaching by telecommunications methods (online). This means that any program that cannot be completed entirely through an attendance mode that includes primarily traditional face-to-face teaching will be ineligible, or could become ineligible.

Some subjects (classes) are taught entirely, or primarily, by telecommunications methods (using online teaching and learning methods). At JCU this is called 'external' and 'limited/mixed mode' attendance. In many cases, a subject will have multiple attendance options so it will simply be a case of not choosing the online option. However in some cases, external or limited/mixed mode attendance may be the only option and you will need to select a different subject.

If a program contains any core (compulsory) subjects which are only offered in an online attendance mode, the program will be ineligible. If you do undertake an external subject after initially commencing a program that was eligible for US Federal Aid, the program will then become ineligible and your federal funding will be cancelled.  It will be your responsibility to ensure, prior to accepting an offer to study at JCU, that you can complete the program and select the subjects that are of most interest to you, without being constrained by the online subject limitation.

Internal and Block/Intensive attendance modes are acceptable for the purposes of US Federal Aid. As are other non-online learning methods such as placement and research. To check whether your chosen program contains online attendance mode subjects, please refer to the subject listing in the course handbook or contact the Financial Aid office.  Course handbooks can be found under each course outline on the JCU website: In some cases, you may also need to contact the course coordinator directly.

Important Notes: 

  • Programs (eg your degree) can be offered by internal or external (distance) study mode. Internal means you will come to Australia, usually on a Student Visa, to undertake your course.  External means you can study from anywhere in the world and will undertake your course online.
  • Subjects (eg classes) can be available in a number of attendance modes depending on the course structure. More information about subject attendance modes can be found under enrollment terminology on our website.  Internal programs CAN sometimes include online attendance subjects.
  • External & Limited/Mixed Mode attendance  -
    • External - wholly online learning, therefore definitely ineligible
    • Limited/Mixed Mode - partially online. In some cases this option will be acceptable provided online is not the primary teaching method used. If there is a limited/,mixed mode attendance subject offered, please seek further advice from before enrolling in the subject

Cost of attendance

James Cook University will estimate your “Cost of Attendance” (CoA) for the relevant loan period based on the regulations established by the US Department of Education.  JCU will also advise you of your eligibility for each loan type, however the total amount of loans you can borrow will not exceed the total CoA.

You will find general information on cost of living on the JCU website however the CoA that is determined by the JCU Financial Aid Administrator can vary due to both exchange rate fluctuations and the US Department of Education regulatory limitations.

Exchange rate

James Cook University will estimate your CoA firstly in Australian dollars and subsequently convert to US dollars using the current exchange rate at that time. The USD amount will appear on your JCU Financial Aid Award letter. Subsequently, upon disbursement of the loan amounts to the University the funds are converted again, this time from USD to AUD.

The two conversion points as explained above may result in variances to the loan amount due to exchange rate fluctuations between the USD and AUD. As the two conversions above occur at different points during the year, each conversion will result in a rate risk due to movement in the USD/AUD exchange rate. It is the borrower’s responsibility to understand and accept this risk as part of studying at James Cook University and borrowing US Financial Aid. The University is unable to set any exchange rates.

Loan types

James Cook University is registered as a provider to certify and administer US Federal Aid loan applications for new and continuing US students located at Townsville or Cairns campus. There are several different loans the University can certify and administer as a participant in the US Title IV/Direct Loan Program (Federal Aid) and these are as follows:

Subsidized Direct Loans
These are awarded to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. The federal government pays your interest while you are in school and enrolled at least half-time.

Unsubsidized Direct LoansThese are available to all eligible students, regardless of income. Unlike the subsidized Direct Loan, interest accrues from the time of the first disbursement. Students have the option of deferring the interest and principal payments until repayment commences.

Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)
This is a loan that allows parents to borrow funds to pay for the educational expenses of their dependent student. This loan is only available to parents whose child is a dependent undergraduate student as defined by the US Department of Education.

Graduate PLUS LoansThe Graduate PLUS loan is only available to students enrolled in an eligible graduate program. Eligibility for the Graduate PLUS Loan is also dependent on the borrower's credit rating and history.

Pell Grants and Perkins loans are not available to students studying at schools outside of the US.

Applying for Federal Aid at JCU (New students)

New students applying for US Federal Aid follow this link.

Applying for Federal Aid at JCU (Continuing students)

Continuing students applying for US Federal Aid follow this link.

Completing your studies

When you complete your program, withdraw, take a leave-of-absence or drop below half-time enrolment, JCU will notify your lender and your grace period will begin. The grace period will give you six months before you must start making monthly principal and interest payments on your loans. If you re-enter university at least halftime during your grace period, the grace period is usually renewed for another six months so you have the full grace period available when you leave university again. You must also undertake Exit Counselling online: Exit Counseling.

Students who apply for a JCU Leave of Absence from their studies may be eligible to also take a Federal Aid Leave of Absence in certain circumstances.  Enquiries should be made to the JCU Financial Aid Administrator before you go on LoA. If you are not eligible or do not apply for a Federal Aid LoA, you will be reported as ‘withdrawn’ to the US Department of Education, even if your enrolment status at JCU is LoA.

Important policies and consumer disclosures

- Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for US Federal Aid eligibility

- US Federal Aid – Return to Title IV

- Admission Progression Policy

- JCU AccessAbility Services (for students with disabilities)

- Critical Incident Policy


For any further questions about James Cook University’s administration of US Federal Aid Loans please contact the Financial Aid Administrator at or phone +61 747815507.