Financial Aid for US Students

US Loans for American Students

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) participates in the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program (Direct Loan). To apply for US Federal Direct Loans through the Direct Loan Program, you must be an American student enrolled in a degree-granting program at RCS.  The RCS federal school code is G30887.  You can study full-time or part-time (subject to visa restrictions) but periods of study on a less than half-time basis are ineligible for aid.

General eligibility conditions for financial aid

To receive aid, including Federal Direct and PLUS Loans, a student must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Must be a student enrolled or accepted for enrolment in an eligible programme at an eligible institution
  • Must have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Must be enrolled at least half-time for the period for which the loan is originated
  • Must comply with the University’s satisfactory academic progress policy
  • Must not be convicted of possessing or selling illegal drugs while receiving financial aid
  • Must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year
  • If male and age 18-25, must be registered for Selective Service
  • Must not be in default on an educational loan and must not owe a repayment on an adjusted federal grant

You cannot receive US government loans if you:

  • Study at RCS via Distance Learning
  • Study a Diploma or a Certificate programme
  • In most cases where your program includes a period of study in the US
    Study Abroad with a school that is not approved for Title IV (Federal) Aid

From 1 July 2021, you can be eligible for aid and study up to 25% of your RCS programme as part of a Study Abroad programme at an eligible US institution or a non-eligible institution outside the USA.  Please note that the RCS does not normally allow its students to study overseas for more than 6 months.

Types of Federal Direct Loans

As a foreign school RCS is eligible to originate loan applications for Federal Direct Loans and PLUS loans.  Information on these types of loans can be found at:

Federal Direct Subsidized Loan

A Federal Direct Subsidized Loan is awarded on the basis of financial need. The U.S. government pays interest on a subsidized loan while you are enrolled at RCS at least half-time and during deferment periods. Direct Subsidized loans for undergraduate students will have an interest rate of 4.99% (from 1st July 2022).

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans

A Federal Direct Unsubsidized loan is not awarded on the basis of financial need and you are not required to pay the interest on this loan while at RCS (but we suggest that you do).  As the borrower, you will be charged interest starting at the point of the first disbursement.  The interest rate for Federal Direct Unsubsidized loans is fixed at 4.99% (from 1st July 2022) for undergraduate borrowers and 6.54% (from 1st July 2022) for graduate borrowers.

Origination fees: A fee of 1.057% will be deducted from the gross amount of the loan you borrow, so you might want to factor that in when deciding the amount you need to borrow.  

Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan

A parent of a dependent undergraduate student can borrow a Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan to help pay for their child’s tuition and/or living expenses at RCS.  A parent can borrow up to the total Estimated Cost of Attendance (ECA) minus all other sources of financial aid the student is in receipt of.  For a PLUS loan, the parent is the borrower and not the student.  A Parent PLUS loan borrower must meet the same citizenship and residency requirements as the student and the parent must not owe a refund on a Federal student financial aid grant or be in default on a Federal student loan.   A credit check is conducted when the parent begins the loan application process. If an undergraduate student has a parent who does not qualify for a PLUS loan they can borrow additional Federal Direct Unsubsidized loan funds.  The interest rate is fixed at 7.54% (from 1st July 2022) and repayment begins within 60 days after the loan is fully disbursed and lasts ten years.

Origination fees:  for Direct Parent PLUS loans these are set at 4.228% for loans originated with a first disbursement date on or after 1st October 2020.

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan

Graduate students with a good credit history can borrow a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan to help pay for educational expenses.  You can borrow up to the total Cost of Attendance (COA) minus all other student aid you receive.  You must make sure that you have applied for the maximum amount of Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan Program before applying for a Graduate PLUS loan.  The interest rate is fixed at 6.28% (from 1st July 2021) and repayment begins within 60 days after your loan is fully disbursed and lasts ten years.

Origination fees: for Direct Graduate PLUS loans are set at 4.228% for any loans originated with a first disbursement date on or after 1st October 2020.

Federal Direct Loan Annual and Aggregate Loan Limits

The amount in Federal Direct Loan funds that you can borrow each academic year is limited by the level of your course; i.e. year 1, year 2, year 3 or year 4 (of undergradaute) or postgraduate; whether you are a dependent or an independent student; your financial need; and your cost of attendance.  You cannot borrow more than your financial need or the cost of attendance.  Information on loan limits can be found in the US Student Loan Guide 2023.2024

How is my aid eligibility determined?

Any student wanting to take out a direct loan needs to complete a FAFSA at

For undergraduate students, Direct Subsidized or Direct Unsubsidized Loan, or a combination of both loans, are based on your financial need.   The information you give on your FAFSA is used to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is a  formula that permits the RCS to work out your financial need. To work out your financial need, your EFC is subtracted from your cost of attendance (COA) for need-based loans. The RCS will also take off any other aid awarded to you or on your behalf for educational expenses. This is called Estimated Financial Assistance (EFA).

What is the timeline for direct loans processing?

In April/May/June of each year RCS will:

  • Receive and review Student Aid Reports once new and returning students have completed the FAFSAs
  • Calculate the Cost of Attendance for each programme of study
  • Establish the Cost of Attendance exchange rate for the upcoming academic year

In July of each year RCS will:

  • Package loans and offer students and families awards

In July/August of each year RCS will:

  • Originate loans
  • Notify students of disbursement schedules
What if I’m coming to the RCS as an Exchange or Study Abroad student?

Exchange students attending the RCS for one or two terms or for a full academic year should apply for financial aid through their home institution.

What if I’m a RCS student going abroad on an Exchange?

RCS students studying on an exchange programme outwith the Conservatoire through a partnership arrangement with another Conservatoire (or equivalent), must ensure that the following conditions are met in order to remain eligible for Federal Aid:

  • your study abroad institution must also be a participating and approved Federal Aid (Title IV) school
  • your study abroad institution must not be in the USA
  • your study abroad period must account for no more than 25% of your programme of study

A list of foreign schools participating in the US Federal Aid programme is here. For all other periods of study outwith the Conservatoire including work placements, periods of independent research and writing up, you are urged to check your eligibility for Federal Aid with the International and Student Experience team at

Students wishing to arrange funding for ineligible programmes (such as the Artists Diploma or the Advanced Graduate Diploma in Performance) have the option of arranging a Private Alternative Loan – see the section on Sallie-Mae below.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic the CARES Act currently allows programmes which are normally delivered on campus to be delivered online without affecting Federal loan eligibility. For information about temporary interest rate and repayment relief related to the Coronavirus pandemic please refer to

How much can you borrow – Cost of Attendance?

You may borrow federal funds up to a standard cost of attendance (COA) as the combined maximum of your loans. The COA is comprised of tuition fees and living costs only, minus any Expected Financial Aid (EFA) which includes any bursaries, scholarships, grants or other awards.  The COA will be determined by the Conservatoire and not the student. The amount you can borrow via each loan type is subject to specific limits depending on your course and your year of study. Please note there will be a fee for originating a loan.

Students funding their studies by US Federal Loans will automatically have their enrolment details reported to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) every two months but if a student not currently in receipt of US Federal Loans wishes to be reported to NSLDS for loan deferment purposes they should contact to request this.

Where can I get more information?

Each year the RCS produces a US Student Loan Guide 2023.2024 You should familiarise yourself with this document and the information at

RCS Federal Aid Policies

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Return to Title IV

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act

Are there any alternative loan options for US students?

Yes.  Private Alternative Loans in the USA are available.  A private alternative loan is a non-federal education loan, through a private lender, typically in the student’s name and requiring a co-signer. Approval and interest rates are based on the creditworthiness of the borrower and co-signer. Each alternative lender has different eligibility requirements, loan rates, terms, and conditions. Students who are eligible for federal student aid should complete the FAFSA and a Private Education Loan Applicant Self-Certification and are strongly encouraged to pursue the availability of free or lower-cost financial aid first as Federal student loans generally have more favourable terms and conditions than private loans.

The Conservatoire is willing to work with any lender who offers alternative educational loans to students enrolled at foreign schools. Currently we are aware of only one such lender, Sallie-Mae Student Loans.  Further information can be found at:

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland does not have a EIN and does not complete 1098-T forms for US students.  The RCS is an eligible educational institution and so US students should not need a 1098-T form or an EIN when applying for a credit on educational expenses.   It should be sufficient to state that you didn’t get a 1098-T form and that you qualify for an exception.