William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program

William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program

One source of funding available to students is the federal program offered by the U.S. Department of Education.  

The University of Toronto is an approved institution for the administration of subsidized and unsubsidized U.S. Direct Loans and PLUS Direct Loans, according to the Higher Education Act, Title IV. Yearly loan amounts are listed on the U.S. Department of Education website and resource publications: U.S. Federal Student Loans – Basics for students (PDF).

As a foreign institution, the University of Toronto is notan approved institution with respect to the administration of Pell grants, Perkins or Health Professions loans. 

The U.S. Department of Education is the lender; the loan is administered by a federal loan servicer which acts on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education. 

Am I Eligible?

To apply for financial assistance from the U.S. Federal Direct Loan Program you must be:  

  • A U.S. citizen, or eligible non-U.S. citizen as defined by the U.S. Department of Education; 
  • Accepted to an eligible program at the University of Toronto. 

As of July 1, 2023, students registered in distance education or online courses are not eligible for U.S. Federal Direct Loans, per Federal Student Aid rules.

Students who are eligible to apply for U.S. federal loans and Canadian Provincial/Territorial financial aid loans (such as dual citizens of the U.S. and Canada), must research and determine the federal loan program that is best suited for their financial aid needs. Students cannot obtain federal loans from both the U.S. and Canada. 

Programs providing degree studies at the University of Toronto are approved for U.S. Direct Loans. 

The U.S. Department of Education does not provide funding to students enrolled in: 

  • Certificate, diploma, non-degree programs 
  • Correspondence courses or programs 
  • Distance Education courses or programs 
  • Exchange and study abroad programs at U.S. institutions or institutions not eligible for Title IV or U.S. Direct Loans funding; see School Code Search
  • Online courses or hybrid online/in class courses within programs.  Note: A program with mandatory online or online/hybrid course(s) is ineligible for U.S. Direct Loans unless an equivalent in-class version of the course is offered by the program. 
  • St. Michael’s College 
  • Trinity College 
  • Victoria College 
  • Toronto School of Theology (and its member institutions) 
  • Faculty of Medicine – Doctor of Medicine 
  • Faculty of Nursing – Bachelor of Nursing 
  • Faculty of Nursing – Master of Nursing 
  • OISE – Additional Qualification Courses as they do not lead towards a degree 
  • Residency Programs 
  • Joint programs with other institutions not eligible for Title IV or U.S. Direct Loans funding – i.e. Art and Art History (joint program UTM/Sheridan College); Journalism (joint program UTSC/Centennial College). Students in joint programs can submit a ticket via the University Registrar’s Office Service Portal to have their program reviewed for eligibility.

Non-approved Programs with Distance/Online Learning:

  • OISE – Educational Leadership & Policy Program 
  • OISE – Languages & Literature Program 
  • OISE – Master of Education (MEd) – Educational Leadership and Policy Program (Coursework Only Program Option – Online/Hybrid (part time) cohort-based stream) 
  • Rotman Global Executive MBA for Healthcare and the Life Sciences 
  • School of Continuing Studies and programs of instruction offered by telecommunications as a method of delivery. 
  • School of the Environment – Environmental Studies Collaborative Program 
  • School of the Environment – Environment & Health Collaborative Program 
  • School of Graduate Studies – Master of Social Work – Indigenous Trauma and Resiliency (ITR) Field of Study 

Non-approved Programs with Study Components Held in the United States of America:

  • Rotman-SDA Bocconi Global Executive MBA 

Non-approved Certificate Programs:

  • Certificate in Environmental Management 
  • Certificate in Renewable Energy 
  • Certificate in GIS for Environmental Management 
  • Certificate in Environmental Health 

Additional Non-approved Programs:

  • International Dentist Advanced Placement Program for Foreign-Trained Dentists (IDAPP) 
  • International Pharmacy Graduate Program (Canadian Pharmacy Skills) for individuals with foreign pharmacy degrees. 
  • National Committee on Accreditation at the Faculty of Law 
  • Research in the U.S. by doctorate students is at the discretion of the University Registrar’s Office in accordance with U.S. regulations. 

Students in ineligible programs should consider applying for Alternative or Private loans.

How Do I Apply?

Before applying, all students interested in the Direct Loan program must read the US Direct Loans University of Toronto Policies and Regulations.

  • Fall/Winter session funding: To ensure that loan funds are available within the first few weeks of fall term, all application steps must be completed, and the completed application package must be received at the University Registrar’s Office by June 1st of each year. Incomplete or incorrectly completed applications will cause delay – hence students are encouraged to apply well in advance of this deadline. 
  • Winter term only funding: For students interested in funding for the Winter term only, all application steps must be completed, and the completed application package must be received at the University Registrar’s Office by October 1st of each year. 
  • Applications received after these deadline dates will still be processed, but the disbursement of funds to eligible students will not be guaranteed for the beginning of the term requested and students may be assessed service charges by Student Accounts on outstanding fees. 

The final deadline for current students to submit a completed Fall/Winter U of T Direct Loans Application Package (all steps completed) is March 31st of each year. The final deadline for current graduate students enrolled in Fall, Winter and Summer is August 1st of each year.

  • Go to Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to begin your application.
  • The University of Toronto school code is G06688
  • Tips:
    • Use the name exactly as listed on the Social Security Card (student’s and parents’). 
    • Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool on FAFSA to transfer information from your U.S. tax returns to the FAFSA. This will help to minimize both data entry errors and verification requirements.   
    • Use the same mailing address in both the FAFSA and the Master Promissory Note. 
  • A link to the Student Aid Report (FAFSA that has already been processed by the U.S. Department of Education) is provided to the email address listed on the FAFSA within 48 hours. Review for any errors, or if any additional action is required. Corrections can be made on the FAFSA website

A) Entrance Counseling 

  • All students applying for U.S. Direct Loans who have not previously completed U.S. Direct Loan Entrance Counseling to attend the University of Toronto must complete this one-time only step as part of the U.S. Direct Loan application process.  
  • If entrance counseling was completed for a previous year’s University of Toronto application, proceed to B below.

B) Master Promissory Note 

C) Direct PLUS Loan Application (if applicable – i.e., graduate/professional students and parent borrowers only) 

  • Independent graduate students applying for a Direct PLUS Loan must have borrowed the maximum annual loan limit first from the U.S. Direct Loan. 
  • Parent borrowers must select “The Student” when answering the question “If there is a credit balance after your Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan has been applied to the student’s school account, to whom do you want the school to pay the credit balance?”
    • By selecting “The Student” option, the parent borrower authorizes the University of Toronto in writing to transfer to the student any leftover funds from the Parent PLUS Loan after tuition fees have been paid.
  • A U.S. address must be used as the ‘Permanent Address’ in the PLUS Loan application.
    • A credit check will be conducted based on the information on the PLUS Loan application.
      • Applicants who pass the credit check will be considered for U.S. Direct PLUS Loans.
      • Applicants who fail the credit check can complete U.S. Direct PLUS Counselling available online at studentaid.gov to be considered for U.S. Direct PLUS Loans. 
    • Credit checks are valid for only 180 days. Direct PLUS borrowers are responsible for monitoring and ensuring that their credit check is valid during the entire academic year. Invalid credit checks (older than 180 days) will delay future loan disbursements. 
  • Complete the Direct PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note, in addition to the Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan Master Promissory Note. 

Review submission instructions based on the session you wish to apply for funding: 

Fall only, Fall and Winter only, Winter only:


  • Undergraduate students:
    • For students already assessed for Fall/Winter U.S. Direct Loans funding, please submit a ticket to the URO Service Portal for further instructions.
    • For students who have not been assessed for Fall/Winter U.S. Direct Loans funding, please apply through U of T’s U.S. Direct Loans Portal.
  • Graduate students:
    • Master’s and PhD students in 12-month programs (require registration in Fall, Winter and Summer terms) may submit one application requesting for Fall, Winter and Summer funding.
    • Master’s students in 8-month programs (Fall and Winter registration only) should submit an application requesting for Fall/Winter only funding; please submit a ticket to the URO Service Portal in March of their winter term for further instructions if requesting U.S. Direct Loans funding for the following Summer.

Notice of assessments, disbursements, important information and next step letters are also posted to the student’s U.S. Direct Loans Portal. Students are encouraged to bookmark the portal to ensure they retrieve important information on their loan application and status updates. 

I Applied – Now What?

  • If you have submitted your application through our portal to the University Registrar’s Office, you will receive an assessment in approximately 6-8 weeks.  During peak processing periods of summer and the start of each term (Fall, Winter, and Summer sessions), processing times will be slightly longer.  
  • Applications with missing documentation and/or that require clarification will require additional processing time. 
  • In mid-July, tuition fees are finalized and then made available to you through your ACORN account.
  • If you received an estimated Notice of Assessment, and your financial aid calculation has changed as a result of the finalized tuition, you will be issued a revised final Notice of Assessment within six weeks.

For payments to be made:

  • You must set up a Canadian bank account, and enter your Canadian bank account information into the Direct Deposit section of your ACORN account. 
  • You must also enter your Canadian mailing address in the Profile & Settings section of your ACORN account. 

Students who submit their U.S. Loans application package to the University Registrar’s Office by the appropriate deadlines are eligible to apply for a tuition fee deferral. A successful tuition fee deferral will result in waived service charges until mid-October for outstanding fall term tuition fees, and mid-February for outstanding winter term tuition fees. 

  • You must be in good academic standing, have paid or deferred your tuition fees, and be registered full-time or at least half-time to receive your loan payments. 
  • U.S. Direct Loan payments will be made in Canadian dollars to your ACORN account, and will first be applied toward any outstanding tuition fees. Any remaining amount after outstanding fees have been paid will be refunded to you by the Student Accounts Office. 


  • Students in eight-month bachelors or masters programs will receive two disbursements: one in the fall and one at the start of winter session. 
  • Students in the first year of their undergraduate program who are receiving U.S. Direct Loans for the first time can receive their first disbursement 30 days after the start of their undergraduate program at the earliest, as required by the U.S. Department of Education. 
  • Students in 12-month masters or PhD programs receive three disbursements: one after the start of the fall, one after the start of winter and one after the start of the summer session. 

Service charges are applied to unpaid student tuition fees according to the schedule published by the Student Accounts Office. Service charges cannot be waived because of fluctuation in exchange rates or because loans are issued in multiple instalments. Students are responsible to fund any shortfall due to exchange rate conversion. The exchange rate applied by the University of Toronto is based on the date of each transaction to/from U.S. currency. 

Information on study permit/student visa is available from the Centre for International Experience

Read through information about the University of Toronto Policies and Regulations.

If you have further questions, please see these resources:

Cancellation & Withdrawal

Students must submit a ticket to the URO Service Portal to request to cancel a loan application or future/anticipated loan disbursements. Students who wish to cancel their loan (in its entirety or a portion) after it is disbursed must submit a ticket within 14 days of the loan disbursement date.

Students who withdraw or reduce their course load to less than half-time status may not be eligible to keep the loan funds that have been disbursed to them for the academic year. 

U.S. Direct Loans are awarded on the basis that students will study full-time for their complete period of study. Therefore:  

  • Students “earn” aid through attendance based on the number of calendar days completed while in full-time studies, divided by the total number of calendar days in the period of study. 
  • Students who complete 60% or more of their period of study have “earned” 100% of their U.S. Direct Loans. 
  • Students who complete less than 60% of their period of study due to withdrawal or reduction of course load to part-time status (less than half-time) are required to repay the portion of their loan that they have not “earned”. 
  • For full-time, half-time and less than half-time course load definitions, please see Registration Status.

Responsibility for repaying the portion of “unearned” or overpaid loan to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) is shared by the student and the University of Toronto. For more information, see Return of Title IV U.S. Direct Loan Funds Due to Withdrawal or Course Load Reduction Policies.

Students must complete an Exit Counseling interview and begin repayment of their student loans when they are no longer registered in full-time studies (i.e., graduation, withdrawal, or course load reduction to less than half-time). For full-time, half-time and less than half-time course load definitions, please see Registration Status.

Student Responsibilities and Obligations

Students must:

  • Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress each year to continue to be eligible for further funding.
  • Immediately inform the University Registrar’s Office of any academic (including course load reduction or withdrawal), financial, marital status or personal information changes. Such changes may result in the student’s ineligibility for further funding, and the requirement to repay unearned loan funds. For more information, see Return of Title IV U.S. Direct Loan Funds Due to Withdrawal or Course Load Reduction Policies.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is reviewed annually at the end of each academic year in accordance with U.S. regulations and the University of Toronto’s published academic standards required for graduation. To be eligible for further funding students with U.S. Direct Loans must fulfill all three SAP components: 

  • Grade Point Average (Qualitative) 
  • Pace (Quantitative) 
  • Time (Quantitative) 

Complete information about these components, as well as the process students can follow if they do not meet SAP, in the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policies.

Students who failed SAP but are interested in submitting a SAP appeal may do so within a specific timeline.

Other Information

The University of Toronto has strategies in place to ensure that students and their parents, and the University of Toronto’s faculties and departments, are fully informed about and supported through the U.S. Direct Loans process. Supporting students in the U.S. Direct Loans process ensures that they maintain their eligibility for U.S. Direct Loans while they are registered at the University of Toronto. 

The NSLDS is the central database for U.S. government student aid.  This site allows students to download all of their loan, grant and aid overpayment history. The University of Toronto reports enrolment status to NSLDS. Alternative/private loans are not included.

Consumer Information is a comprehensive list of websites about U.S. financial aid and the University of Toronto.