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US Federal Aid


The US government has implemented changes to the FAFSA process which has caused significant delays with the release of 24/25 FAFSA information to schools.

JCU has now begun receiving FAFSA information and will commence assessment and  issue  financial aid offers from the 29th April 2024.  Financial aid offers will only  be issued for students with a current offer to commence study in July 2024, and for a program of study which is  eligible for US federal aid.  Please refer to program eligibility section below for more information.

If you have not received your financial aid offer in a timely manner, please contact

US Federal Aid Application, Deadline and Disbursement periods

To receive a Financial Aid offer from JCU, you must have received an Offer Letter from our Admissions office, and for a program which is eligible for US Federal Aid (see Program Eligibility section), and have completed a FAFSA for the correct loan period (with the JCU school code), and be deemed an eligible student (see Student Eligibility section).

If you do not receive a financial aid offer within the timeframe specified below, or you complete your FAFSA after (or close to) the application deadline, please contact

If you have received a financial aid offer, please ensure you accept your offer before the deadline. If a deadline is missed, this will impact the disbursement period in which your loans will be released.

For study commencing in: Financial Aid offers issued from: Deadline to accept financial aid offers:
Study Period 1 2024 (February) August 2023 1st February 2024
Study Period 2 2024 (July) April 29th 2024* (delayed due to FAFSA changes) 1st July 2024
Study Period 1 2025 (February) August 2024 1st February 2025

To qualify for a loan disbursement, you must first accept your financial aid offer. Fully accepting your financial aid offer includes receiving your Financial Aid Offer, accepting your offer, and finalizing all of the application steps required (complete entrance counselling,  Master Promissory Note/s and a JCU Loan Agreement), as well as completing a disbursement authority.

Once you have accepted your financial aid offer,  disbursement of your loan will occur within distinct processing periods and will not be continuous throughout the year.  Please check your JCU email for disbursement notifications to ensure you don't miss out.  If you do miss a disbursement period, your disbursement will not occur until the next available period.  Disbursement periods are occasionally adjusted to align with system outages and staff availability.

Study Periods Disbursement processing periods
Study Period 1 2024 9th February to 23rd February 2024
  27nd March to 5th April 2024
  24th April to 10th May 2024
Study Period 2 2024 12th July to 26th July 2024
  19th August to 23rd August 2024
  16th September to 20th September 2024

Please note , each financial aid offer is issued for a maximum of 12 months.  If you are a continuing student, please remember that your loan will expire at the end of the loan period stated on your JCU Loan Participation Agreement. To qualify for further loan disbursements, you must reapply with a current FAFSA and meet all stipulated deadlines above.

To be eligible for US Federal Student Aid, you must meet a range of criteria as stipulated by the US Department of Education.

General Criteria

  • 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 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
  • 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.

Academic Criteria

To receive Title IV funds, you must be qualified to study at the postsecondary level. To qualify, you must have:

  • a high school diploma (or foreign equivalent); or
  • the recognised equivalent such as a general educational development (GED) certificate or other state sanctioned test or diploma-equivalency certificate; or
  • completed homeschooling at the secondary level as defined by state law; or
  • completed secondary school education in a homeschool setting which qualifies for an exemption from compulsory attendance requirements under state law, if state law does not require a home schooled student to receive a credential for their education; or
  • completed one of the ability-to-benefit (ATB) alternatives and is either currently enrolled in an eligible career pathway program or first enrolled in an eligible postsecondary program prior to July 1,  2012.

The JCU Admissions office will assess your application to study in accordance with the admissions and associated procedures, however the financial aid office may conduct additional validity checks to ensure academic eligibility for US Federal Student Aid is also met.

To be eligible for US Federal Student Aid, the program you wish to study also must be an eligible program.  Many programs are eligible provided they meet the following criteria:

  • An internal program (on campus)
  • A Bachelor, Master or Doctorate program
  • Have no external (online) compulsory subjects
  • Do not fall into the ineligible list below

Programs that are ineligible for US Federal Aid 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 Dental Surgery
  • Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery
  • Bachelor of Nursing Science
  • Bachelor of Veterinary 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 online attendance mode (eg external and/or in some cases mixed mode).  For example, some of the programs that may fall into this category include* 
    • Master of Education
    • Master of Public Health
    • Master of Public Health & Tropical Medicine
    • Master of Social Work (Professional Qualifying)

* 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.

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 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 in some cases, 'mixed mode' attendance. In many cases, a subject will have multiple attendance options so it will simply be a case of not choosing the ineligible option. However in some cases, external or mixed mode attendance may be the only option and you may need to select a different subject.

If a program contains any core (compulsory) subjects which are only offered in an external attendance mode, the entire 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 subsequently 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 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. 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 enrolment terminology on our website.  Internal programs CAN include online attendance subjects.
  • External & Mixed Mode attendance :
    • External - wholly online learning, therefore definitely ineligible
    • Mixed Mode - partially online. In some cases this option will be eligible provided online is not the primary teaching method used. If there is a mixed mode attendance subject offered, please seek further advice from before enrolling in the subject

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.

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 Offer. 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.

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:

Subsidised 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.

Unsubsidised Direct Loans

These are available to all eligible students, regardless of income. Unlike the subsidised 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 Loans
The 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.

JCU has a number of campuses however you can only access US Federal Student Aid if you are enrolled to study an eligible degree at JCU Townsville or Cairns campus.

The JCU financial Aid office is located at the JCU Townsville campus, which is where all loan administration is undertaken for students enrolled at both Townsville and Cairns campus.

It is not possible to access US Federal Student Aid if you are enrolled at (or have applied to):

  • JCU Brisbane
  • JCU Singapore
  • JCU Online

or any clinical location such as JCU Mackay, Mt Isa, Rockhampton or Thursday Island

JCU has written arrangements with a number of foreign institutions (schools) under our JCU Global Experience program. These arrangements are known as Exchange Agreements, whereby JCU students can apply to undertake to study abroad for a portion of their JCU degree.

US Federal Student Aid regulation (CFR 600.54(c)) disallows student borrowers* to undertake more than 25% of their JCU degree at the foreign institution.

Note, student borrowers are defined as US students who have, or intend to, apply for US Federal Student Aid through JCU for a period of, or the entirety of, their JCU degree.

Completing your studies or taking a break

When you complete your program, withdraw, take a leave-of-absence or drop below half-time enrolment, JCU will notify the US Department of Education, and in most cases this is when 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. You must also undertake Exit Counselling online.

If you re-commence study 'at least half time', either at JCU or another education provider, you will need to ensure the financial aid office is aware so that your enrolment can once again be reported as 'in school' and your repayment status will return to 'deferred'.

Students who apply for a JCU Leave of Absence from their studies may also be eligible to apply for a Federal Aid Leave of Absence in certain circumstances.  LOA at JCU does not automatically entitle you to enter a Federal Aid leave of absence status. Enquiries should be made to the JCU Financial Aid Administrator before you apply for a JCU LoA. If you are not eligible or do not apply for a Federal Aid LoA, you will be reported to the US Department of Education as ‘withdrawn’ or 'less than half-time' (depending on the circumstances and program you are undertaking).

Important policies

All policies and procedures can be found in the JCU Policies and Procedures Library, however those most relevant for students receiving US Federal Student Aid are:

US Federal Aid – SAP & Return to Title IV Policy

Admission Progression Policy

JCU AccessAbility Services (for students with disabilities)

Critical Incident Policy

Refund Policy

Student Support Services

Consumer Information Disclosures

To ensure you have all the information you need to decide about studying at James Cook University, please view current information about the University and our policies and procedures using the links below.

You need to know the current requirements and procedures for students and James Cook University, under the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008. The following links were current at the time of publication, however please contact us if the information you require is not available.

Consumer Information Disclosures


For any further questions about James Cook University’s administration of US Federal Aid Loans please contact the Financial Aid Administrator
Phone: +61 7 47815507