Funding amounts

How much am I eligible to borrow?

Your eligibility for aid at La Trobe will be assessed based on the  information that you have provided on your La Trobe Application for Financial Aid (PDF 55.3KB).

The US government specifies the maximum amounts a student may be eligible to borrow under the Federal Education Loan Program annually.

Cost of attendance (COA)

The cost of attendance is an estimate of a student's education expenses for the period of enrolment (12 months maximum). The components of the cost of attendance are the same for all US Federal programs, as specified under US law.

US Financial Aid cost of attendance for 2020 based on the allowable segments:

Course fee: Based on the course fee mentioned on the letter of offer.

Books: Due to the significant difference between Law/Health Sciences courses and other courses, we have decided to have two tiers:

  1. Law/Health Sciences/ Engineering (e.g. psychology) $3600/annum
  2. Other courses – Business, Arts, Social Science: $2200/annum

OSHC: Full OSHC by preferred OSHC provider for the visa length considered in first year COA based on the current premium. All OSHC is considered on the COA for the 1st year.

Course-related cost: Confirmed online on the Find a course website.

Laptop: Based on student confirmation, A$1000 is included in the COA calculation for first year only. This is only included on the COA, if the student explicitly requests.

Living expenses: Consisting of the following cost components:

  • Transport: A$2340.80 (38 weeks coursework) / A$3203.20 (52 weeks HDR)
  • Food: A$11,020 (38 weeks coursework) / A$15,080 (52 weeks HDR)
  • Average boarding cost: A$12,160 (38 weeks coursework) / A$16,640 (52 weeks HRD)
  • Utilities: A$5,890 (38 weeks coursework) / A$8,060 (52 weeks HDR)
  • Entertainment and Personal expenses: A$3,116 (38 weeks coursework) / A$4,264 (52 weeks HDR)

Total cost of living excluding course cost, other course-related costs, books and laptop:

Coursework Degree: A$34,526.80

Higher Degree by Research (HDR): A$47,247.20

US students who hold Australian/New Zealand Permanent Residency or citizenship will be advised of their COA calculations individually as a result of their ability to access a number of Australian benefits to assist in their education.

Students must provide Centrelink Benefits Statement as well as confirm application for FEE-HELP or SA-HELP and or any other eligible benefits applied for or received by the student at the time of application.

Dependant vs independent student

A student's dependency status is determined by information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It affects the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and types of aid that you may be eligible to receive.

For the purposes of Title IV aid, a student is considered independent if he or she meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • The student is at least 24 years old by 31 December of the award year
  • The student is an orphan or ward/dependent of the court, or was a ward/dependant of the court until he or she reached age 18
  • The student is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
  • The student is enrolled in a Master's or doctorate program at the beginning of the award year for which the FAFSA is completed
  • The student is married at the date the FAFSA is completed
  • The student has at least one child who receives more than half of his or her support from the student
  • The student has a dependant, other than a spouse or a child, who lives with the student and receives more than half of his or her support from the student at the time the FAFSA is completed and through to June 30 of the award year.

The student is considered dependant if he or she does not meet any of the  preceding criteria for an independent student unless the Financial Aid Administrator determines that the student is independent on the basis of special circumstances and performs a dependency override.

Your award notification and confirmation

Once La Trobe University receives your information, we will prepare an award letter that outlines the aid programs for which you are eligible. This award letter can then be used in your visa application to prove that you have access to sufficient funds.

You will be advised via email as to the determination of your eligibility for need based aid and non-need based aid. You will be required to confirm in writing your intent to take this amount, or any other lesser amount prior to certification taking place by signing the award letter. If your parents have requested a PLUS loan on your behalf (dependant students only), they also have to sign the Award letter to confirm the Parent Plus borrowing amount.

La Trobe recommends that all students use the figures contained in their award letter to help them in creating a budget, and using that budget to plan for their financial security during the upcoming academic year.

It is strongly recommended that you plan on having sufficient funds available for accommodation, books, supplies, and any other personal expenses during  the first six to eight weeks of classes in the event that there is some delay in your financial aid arriving from the US.

What impact does this have on my application to study at La Trobe?

If you have been approved for Stafford funds, then you may be eligible for payment of a reduced deposit when accepting your course offer. You need to pay the reduced deposit when you accept your offer and the full OSHC premium to obtain your COE.

When can I access the funds?

In accordance with Direct Loan regulation, the education provider cannot disburse funds to students prior to the commencement of classes. The disbursement date according to your School Certification Form refers to the date that the funds are requested from the US Department of Education.

La Trobe will only request the funds from students upon their enrolment being confirmed on the University's Student Information System. If this is your initial application as a first year undergraduate first time borrower, you should not expect to receive Stafford loan funds until 30 days after the commencement of classes. All other students should expect to receive their funds soon after the classes' commencement date.

The Direct Loan funds will be sent directly by the US Department of Education to La Trobe University's bank account through an electronic funds transfer. Once received, funds are converted to A$ from US$ amount received. You will be notified via email when the funds are received and allocated to your tuition fee, and excess funds towards your living expenses transferred to your nominated bank account.

You will also have to sign the US Financial Aid Cheque Reconciliation Form to confirm your bank account details for the living expense fund transfer and confirm how the funds will be allocated on being received and converted.

Disbursement of US Federal loans will be on dates coinciding with the first day of classes, if you are undertaking a semester/trimester based course or Doctoral program. This is to allow us to fulfil the academic monitoring requirements mandated by the US Department of Education prior to the commencement of the next educational period.

If you are commencing in Semester 2, you will have an option to apply for loans either for 6 months or for 12 months until the next mid-year.

Students are encouraged to actively manage these loan funds. The Department of Education (ED) recently released a comprehensive guide for borrowers about securing and repaying federal student loans. The guide provides information on consolidation, the difference between private and federal loans, as well as possible discharge and cancellation terms.

What happens if the funds are delayed?

If your financial aid funds are delayed through no fault of your own and you require funds urgently, you may apply for the Sir Edward Dunlop International Students Emergency Fund (SEDISEF).

The SEDISEF loans exist to provide financial assistance to international students who are experiencing a genuine, unforeseen, financial  emergency. Once you have submitted an application for SEDISEF, your application will be considered and you will be advised of approval or rejection of these loans.

Additionally, La Trobe International will assist in deferring tuition fee payments until the funds are received from the US. Please be advised that any monies borrowed through the Sir Edward Dunlop loans will be automatically deducted from the student's Direct Loan upon receipt of loan funds. For more information about SEDISEF, please visit

What if I need more money?

The difference between the amount of your COA and your awarded aid is what you are eligible to draw-down. You can take this as either a private loan (this amount will be advised in your award letter), or if you are a graduate student, as a Grad PLUS loan.

Exchange rate conversion policy

The cost of attendance is calculated in A$ but converted to US$ to determine the cost of attendance in US$ and originate loans appropriately, two months before the course commencement date. The exchange rate calculations can't be adjusted after this date unless they vary by more than 20%.

The conversion from A$ to US$ is calculated at the cost of attendance stage and later conversion from US$ to A$, when actual funds are received from US Department of Education; this occurs at different points in time during the year and each conversion will result in exchange rate variations due to the movement in the A$/US$ exchange rate.

The University is unable to set the same exchange rate for both A$/US$ conversions and it is the borrower's responsibility to understand and accept the risk associated with exchange rate variations.

Exchange rate variation example:

Cost of attendance calculation based on the exchange rate of the date calculated, 1 A$=1.05600USD, A$53,680 converts to US$56,686.08 (this is the US$ amount for the cost of attendance and the maximum amount you can borrow).

Based on this example and considering that we are calculating this for a graduate/professional student borrowing funds with disbursement post 1 July 2012.

Direct Unsubsidised: US$20,500
Grad PLUS: US$36186.08

Loan funds are received for the total amount requested for US$56,686.08. Converted to A$ based on that day's exchange rate 1 A$=1.03624, variation in exchange rate has occurred during this period and resulting in the funds converting to A$54,703.62.

The exchange rate variation during this period from when the funds were requested to when funds were actually received has resulted in an additional A$1,023.62 being available.