Title IV Student Loans

US citizens or US nationals who wish to study at the Graduate Institute may apply for US student loans to help them cover their educational related costs. Student loans must be repaid after graduation and as such you are advised to only borrow amounts which are essential for their time at the Institute.

Title IV student loans are only available to students enrolled in the Institute’s full time regular Master and PhD programmes.

Students who apply for title IV loans will not be eligible to receive credits for an internship as part of their curriculum in the Master in International Affairs Programme (MIA) or the  Master in Development Studies programme (MDEV). Those students may only enrol in the version of the programme that excludes credit awarding internships.

Programmes that provide any instruction in an ineligible institution are automatically ineligible programmes for the purposes of Title IV. This applies to exchange programmes and  optional courses taken at the University of Geneva. Click here for more information.


Student Loan Tips

Only borrow what you need

Take a close look at the cost of living in Geneva, tuition and related costs and your family contribution. You may not need to accept the entire amount of a loan you’re offered. Please refer to the monthly student budget which will give you a good idea of the costs you will incur during your studies.

Know your loan

Be sure to understand the loan's terms, conditions and repayment requirements. If you’re applying for US Federal Aid, you are required to complete the Direct Loan Entrance Counselling before we can originate your loans. This is an online financial session to ensure that you are fully aware of your loan package, interest rates and commitments.

All students applying for loans should consider the following points:

  • How much will this loan cost in total?
  • What will my monthly payments be?
  • Is the interest rate fixed or variable?
  • What fees do I have to pay?

A part time job?

You will not need to borrow as much if you have a part-time job to cover some of your expenses. Consult our careers pages during your studies for information on job offers in Geneva.

Scholarships and other financial Aid

Please make sure that you visit our financial Aid information before applying for US Federal Aid or any other loans. If you are applying for Federal Aid and have also applied for a scholarship and not yet received a response, please make sure to mention this in your application for US Title IV Aid and keep us updated.


US Loans – Direct Loans Information

The Graduate Institute is eligible to certify loan applications for the Direct Loan Programme only available to US citizens or eligible Noncitizens.

In order to be eligible, the student must meet the criteria set by the US Department of Education as listed on the Federal Student Aid website.

Furthermore, the student must also:

  • be enrolled and continue to be enrolled at least half-time at The Graduate Institute;
  • be studying an eligible, degree-granting programme; 
  • make satisfactory academic progress (SAP) during his/her programme; and
  • undertake a study or research outside of the United States.

The eligibility criteria for US loans are subject to change at the US Department of Education's discretion and are beyond our control.  You should check the latest eligibility criteria on the Federal Student Aid website.

Information on ineligible courses/programs and exchange programmes:

Ineligible courses/programmes are those which are less than half-time, are not degree-granting, include any online element or involve distance learning.  The Graduate Institute does not offer any online courses or any distance learning element in its programmes.

Furthermore, students receiving financial aid through Title IV funding must be aware that foreign schools must abide to the federal regulations (34 CFR 600.54 (C)) . Consequently, students may participate in exchange programmes only if the exchange takes place at an institution that is considered as eligible for the purposes of Title IV Direct Loans and that is located outside of the United States. A complete list of our partner universities is available. Programmes that provide any instruction in an ineligible institution are automatically ineligible programmes for the purposes of Title IV.

Credits obtained from eligible institutions outside the US do not affect the programme's eligibility for title IV funding. In such cases, students maintain their eligibility and right to receive federal aid if all other conditions are respected.

The Financial Aid Office will advise students who intend to participate in an exchange programme that is ineligible. Students on such programmes will be denied access to Direct Loans but may be eligible for a private loan.

In any case, if you wish to take part in a study abroad programme, please email immediately as this may affect your eligibility for US loans.

Students receiving US Federal Aid should not undertake any part of their study or research in the US. If you will be conducting research that can only be undertaken in the US, please email before applying for your loan so that we can assess your eligibility.

Loan Types and Amounts for Graduate and PhD students

Federal loans can cover the total cost of fees and living expenses for the duration of your studies. Origination and default fees will be deducted from your gross loan award and the fees for the Direct PLUS loan can be taken into consideration when requesting how much to borrow.

A cost of Attendance based on the monthly student budget is available for all students who apply for Federal Loans.

Please note that origination fees, default fees and interest rates are subject to change. For the latest information on interest rates and fees, please see the Federal Student Aid website.

If you wish to apply for federal loans, you can do so at any time during the academic year. For more information, please visit our loan application process page as well as our FAQ page for US Federal Aid recipients.


How to Apply For US Direct Loans

1) Fill out the FAFSA on this link: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/

Once you fill your FAFSA, this will automatically generate a SAR (Student's Aid Report) which you should send for review to:


Also please remember to link your FAFSA to The Graduate Institute (code: G42518).

If you are male you need to be registered for Selective Service, before your 26th birthday. If this is not the case, then your Title IV Direct Loans application will be rejected. If you are exempt or became an eligible citizen after your 26th birthday you will need to provide evidence of this.

2) Further to receipt of the SAR, we will provide you with an award letter informing you up to how much you can borrow for both the Direct Unsubsidized Loan (Stafford) and the GPLUS loan. Please note that as of 2012 both these loans are always unsubsidized.

3) When you receive your award letter (which can also be used for VISA purposes if you are asked to prove your source of income to finance your studies), you will then be required to submit a loan application form confirming the amounts that you will need, bearing in mind that there is about a 1% origination fee which will be deducted from this amount. Please make sure to include your banking details as these will be used to transfer your funds.

Please note that we have the right to question any amounts that we would consider too high. Also, when submitting your loan application, please include any other source of income. If you don’t know whether you will receive additional funding, please let us know that you have applied and we will update your award letter accordingly.

If you are applying for a GPLUS loan, you or your endorser will be required to have an approved credit check. If you or your endorser fails the credit check then you will not be eligible for a GPLUS Loan.

At this point, you are also expected to complete the Direct Loan Entrance Counselling as specified in the “Student Loan Tips”.

4) You will then need to complete and sign your MPN (Master Promissory Note) available on this link:


The MPN(s) will also need to be linked to our school. A separate MPN is needed for the Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the GPLUS, so if you would require both loans, you will need to fill 2 separate MPN's. Furthermore, a new MPN needs to be signed for each academic year (this is a requirement for foreign schools). An MPN (or e-MPN) is a legal document through which you promise to repay your Direct Loans and any accrued interest/fees. It also explains the terms and conditions of your loans.

5) Once the MPN's are signed and all other documents received, we will be in a position to originate your loans. This is usually done in June or July and the first disbursement date cannot be any earlier than 10 days prior to your starting date.

It is also possible to amend (increase or decrease) and cancel the student’s loan prior to the activation of the disbursement.

In order to increase or decrease your loan, please contact the Financial Aid Office with your updated COA and a brief explanation of the changes you have made. If the increase is approved, the additional funds will be spread across your remaining disbursements for the year.

If you wish to cancel your loan, please email at least two weeks before the next disbursement date. If you wish to cancel your loan and the timeframe for doing so through The Graduate Institute has passed, you can still make a repayment directly to your lender.  Your lender's details can be found on the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). If you make a repayment within 120 days of loan disbursement, then your lender will treat this as a partial or full cancellation, with the appropriate adjustment of the loan fee and interest.

Any student who cancels their loan after receiving a disbursement will be required to complete exit counselling via StudentLoans.gov.

Any student who cancels their loan after the funds have been requested from the US may be required to pay fees or bank charges associated with returning the funds to the US.


Loan Disbursements

Direct Loans originated prior to the beginning of the academic year are disbursed in equal amounts at the beginning of the autumn and spring semesters. The exact date will be communicated in writing by the Financial Aid Office.

New students who attend the three week intensive French course prior to the beginning of the academic year may receive a disbursement on their arrival in Geneva. The amount, however, cannot be increased as it can only consider tuition fees and living expenses for the duration of the MA or PhD study programme and does not include the French courses.

Finally, please be aware that the disbursement date is the date on which the government releases the funds. Once the funds reach the Graduate Institute’s account, they must be sent to the student’s account within three days.  Funds will not be released if the student does not give us his/her bank account information. This can be a Swiss account but since the money is sent by wire transfer, you can also use foreign (non-Swiss) banks.

For any additional information, please contact: externalloans@graduateinstitute.ch.


Once You Are Here

You must complete your registration with the Admissions Office. Full details are provided on the portal for newly admitted students. Please note that this page can only be accessed once you are admitted to the Graduate Institute.

You must attend any mandatory session and submit any missing documentation that may still be required by the Admissions Office. Your funds will only be released once you are fully registered at the Graduate Institute.

The Graduate Institute will, in accordance with Federal Regulations, report the details of your mode of attendance (full time / less than half time etc…) and any changes to your enrolment status to the US Department of Education - via the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). Any information contained within NSLDS will be accessible to other loan servicers for whom you may have had previous education loans.

If you need to suspend your studies for personal reasons for more than 180 days, then you will be reported as W (withdrawn). This is for NSLDS reporting purposes only.

When you receive your degree award you will be reported as G (graduated).

If your attendance is reported as less than half-time, withdrawn or graduated, you will no longer be eligible for loans or for any in-school deferment requests.

Satisfactory Academic Progress and Return of Title IV Direct Loans policies

You should ensure you have read and understood the full policy on Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). For any questions, please contact the Financial Aid Administrator.

Satisfactory progression to retain Title IV Direct Loans is entirely separate from the academic requirements to remain on your programme of study. You will find here the Graduate Institute’s Academic Regulations for both Master and PhD programs.

SAP will be checked by the Financial Aid Office before any loan funds are disbursed.

You should also ensure you have read and understood the full policy on the Return of Title IV (R2T4) Direct Loans.

The requirements for the return of Title IV Direct Loan funds are separate from the refund policy at the Graduate Institute.

Please note that if you plan a period of suspension from studies which will be longer than 180 days, for the purposes of Title IV loans, this will be treated as a withdrawal.

Exit Counselling

At the end of the academic year, if the student will be reapplying for the following year, we strongly encourage him/her to complete both entrance and exit counselling. This will allow you to be up to date with your loan commitments, future repayments and any government changes to loan terms. At the end of your studies, you will be reminded that your final Exit Counselling must be done. This is a requirement and you will be asked to provide evidence to the Financial Aid Officer that you have completed it.


Title IV Direct Loans- Consumer Information Disclosures

  • OPEID code: 04251800
  • Direct loan school code: G42518


Congress passed the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013, which ties Federal student loan interest rates to financial markets. Under this Act, interest rates will be determined on a yearly basis during the month of June. New loans being made for the upcoming award year (typically September 1 to July 1) will, therefore, be affected. Each loan will have a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan.

The links below provide information on the various loan types:

We advise that you should consider your long term borrowing against future repayments you will be required to make. There are repayment calculators to help you plan your education loans and repayment options.


The US Department of Education provides information on the penalties associated with drug-related offences under the US Higher Education Act.  Should you lose eligibility for your US student loan as a result of these penalties, we will provide you with a written notice which notifies you of your loss of eligibility and advises you of the ways in which to regain eligibility

Student Right to Know

The Graduate Institute will provide information published by the US Department of Education to students at any time that information regarding loan availability is requested, including the rights and responsibilities of students and schools under Title IV HEA (Higher Education Act) loan programs.

FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)

The Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act does not apply in Switzerland, however the Graduate Institute abides by a similar legislation designed to protect personal data, this is called the Federal Act on Data Protection (FADP).

FERPA is a Federal law that protects the privacy interests of students in a student's "education records “. The law applies to all educational agencies and institutions that receive funds under any program administered by the US Department of Education.

Under FERPA, an eligible student must provide a signed and dated written consent before the institution discloses personally identifiable information ("PII") from the student's education records. The eligible student has the right to have access to his or her education records, the right to seek to have the records amended, the right to have control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the records, and the right to file a complaint with the Department. The term "education records" is defined as those records that contain information directly related to a student and which are maintained by an educational agency or institution.

Admitted students to the Graduate Institute may specify that they do not wish to have their names and photos published on our website.

Safeguarding Customer Info

The Graduate Institute must comply with the regulations as specified by the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC)

Furthermore, and for the purpose of US Federal Loans, the collection, storage, disclosure and correction of personal information by the Graduate Institute are governed by that same regulation as well as the Federal Act on Data Protection (FADP).

Information will be stored on The Graduate Institute’s system (Campus) and all reasonable security measures will be maintained.

More information about our archiving procedures is available upon request. Please note that this information is only available in French.

Should you have a complaint about the processing of your US loan, you have the right to file complaints with the US Department of Education, although it would be preferable that you contact us first so that we can try to resolve the problem with you.


The Graduate Institute has procedures to ensure that it does not misrepresent the nature of its educational program.

For information on academic programs offered at The Graduate Institute, please refer to the Master Programmes and  PhD Programmes pages on our website, as well as the Academic Policies and Regulations. This will also cover the transfer of credits as well as give you detailed contact information. In addition, you will find information on our accreditation status and how the Graduate Institute is governed.

For information about all federal, local, private and institutional student financial assistance available to students, please see our Tuition Fees and Financial Aid pages.
For the following information about US federal student loans, please see our US loans pages:

For information regarding the cost of tuition, fees, mandatory health insurance and student housing, please refer to the Monthly Student Budget which is also used for calculating the Students’ Cost of Attendance.

The employability statistics of our students after graduation as well as a placement service that can assist students in finding paid employment during their studies and/or internships is documented on our Career Services page. For complete information on employability during your studies and/or after completion, please visite out FAQ's.

Missing Student

Procedures that would be followed in the event that a student is reported missing:

A student would be reported missing in the event that, despite continuous effort, to try to get in touch with him/her, there would be no response from his or her part.

If a student would be reported missing, the Department would immediately notify the Security Services and the following measures would be taken:

  • The Police would be contacted, so that a missing person report can be filed
  • Local hospitals would be contacted
  • Head of security would be informed
  • The Graduate Institute would attempt to contact the student on the contact numbers/addresses provided for the student
  • A missing person report would be made to the Police by the Head of Security, including any information necessary to assist the police in locating the individual in accordance with the Data Protection policy.

In all scenarios, once a missing person report has been filed with the Police, the Graduate Institute would act in accordance with Police advice.




How do I apply for a loan?

Please see our How to apply page for a step-by-step guide

When should I apply for my loan and how long will it take to process?

We begin processing loans for the new academic year between May and July. We can normally process your loans in around two to three weeks, depending on individual circumstances; but cannot guarantee that applications will be approved within these timescales if there are outstanding matters related to the loan. It is your responsibility to ensure that a complete loan application is submitted in a timely manner. It is also possible to apply for or adjust your loans during the year; this is particularly useful for students who have not borrowed their full Cost of attendance and would like to apply for additional funding. Please see our How to apply section.

I received a US student loan at The Graduate Institute last year. Do I need to re-apply or will I automatically receive loans for each year of my course?

You must apply for your US loan each year. Please follow the instructions on our How to apply page if you wish to submit an application for a loan this year, or for the next academic year.

I have completed my FAFSA but I haven't heard anything – what should I do?

As a foreign school, we are not notified when you complete your FAFSA. You must complete all of the steps on our How to apply page in order to notify us that you are applying for a loan.

Why can't I receive my entire loan amount at the beginning of my studies and when will I receive my loan disbursements?

In order to control cases of fraud, the US department of Education allows schools to authorize only multiple disbursements. For more information, please visit our disbursement page.

How can I defer repayment on previous US student loans?

 If you are taking US Federal loans, you will automatically be deferred for other loans as students need to be reported on the NSLDS. If you are not taking federal loans, please email us and we will report you on the NSLDS. You will need to provide your Social Security Number and date of birth so that we can add your details to the system, which is used by most guaranty agencies and federal loan servicers, as well as the US Department of Education, to check student enrolment information. Enrolment information is sent to loan servicers with NSLDS access on a weekly basis.

We can also complete paper deferment forms for private loans or federal loans students if the lender is not registered to use NSLDS. 

What is Cost of attendance (COA)?

The Cost of attendance refers to the costs of completing your studies for one academic year.  This, less any other financial aid you may be receiving, is used to calculate the level of US loan funds that you are eligible to borrow. These costs must relate only to you, the student, and include: course fees; living costs; transport expenses; child care when applicable; fieldwork costs; and loan origination fees.

The Cost of attendance cannot include costs for partners or children other than child care/nursery costs. Your COA can include one return flight to the US.

What exchange rate is used when calculating my Cost of attendance?

The exchange rate used at The Graduate Institute can be found on this link and the date used will be the date on which the COA sheet is prepared. However, the actual amount that you will receive in CHF will depend upon the exchange rate used at your bank on the date that the loan funds are disbursed.

How is my academic performance assessed once I have obtained the funding?

The Graduate Institute is required by US federal law to define and enforce standards of satisfactory academic progress (SAP) on students who wish to access US federal funds.

What happens if I fail to make satisfactory academic progress?

If you fail to make satisfactory academic progress (SAP), you will be placed on financial aid probation for six months. If you have been placed on probation and subsequently meet the requirements in the next semester, you will regain eligibility.

Students who have been placed on probation and do not meet the requirements applicable to their degree will be eliminated and, therefore, ineligible to receive aid.

Students who transfer to a new course will also transfer with any SAP warning or sanction and will still need to meet the specified criteria for their new course before regaining eligibility to receive financial aid.

What are my repayment options?

You will arrange repayment directly through your loan servicer. You can check who your loan servicer is on the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). You should always keep in contact with your loan servicer to make sure that you are up-to-date with loan repayment information.

It is your responsibility to:

  • notify your loan servicer of anything that affects your ability to repay your loan;
  • notify your loan servicer of any changes in your status, including graduation, and any changes to your name, address, or telephone number;
  • notify your loan servicer if you fail to enroll for the period covered by your loan; and 
  • notify your loan servicer and college of any change in your address.

You can also make an early repayment directly to your loan servicer. If you make a repayment within 120 days of the loan disbursement, your lender will treat this as a partial or full cancellation, with the appropriate adjustment of the loan fee and interest.

StudentLoans.gov is a very useful website and offers optional financial awareness counselling which provides tools and information to help you understand your financial aid and assist you in managing your finances.

Please note that this financial awareness counselling is not the same as the compulsory entrance  and exit counselling which you will need to complete.

Your student loan must be repaid – you will risk going into default if you do not make your loan payments as required by your loan servicer. Federal Student Aid offers full guidance on understanding default.

Is the Graduate Institute eligible for the US Department of Veterans Affairs Funding? (GI Bill or Post 9/11 Bill.)

Yes, The Graduate institute can process Veterans Affairs (VA) funding and this is managed by the US loans administrators. Please see our Financial Aid page for more information.

What happens if I withdraw from a course or become ineligible for federal student aid, but have already received US federal loans?

If you withdraw from your course, suspend status, drop below half-time enrolment, or otherwise become ineligible for US federal loans, you must email immediately.

Under US federal law, the Graduate Institute is required to report any changes to your enrolment as soon as possible and, if necessary, to complete a Return to Title IV (T2T4) form and arrange for any 'unearned' loan funds to be returned to the US Department of Education. You may also be required to return unearned funds.

Key elements to keep in mind:

The US loans administrators will calculate the amount of Title IV program assistance that has been earned, using a formula provided by the US Department of Education.

Once you have completed more than 60% of the payment period, all the assistance that you were scheduled to receive for that period is considered to have been earned. As an example, if you complete 30% of the payment period, you have earned 30% of the assistance you were originally scheduled to receive within that loan period. If you have completed 60% of the payment period, you have earned 100% of the assistance you were scheduled to receive.

If you received more assistance than was earned, the excess funds must be returned to the US Department of Education by you and/or the Graduate Institute. If you received less assistance than the amount earned, you may be able to receive those additional funds as a post-withdrawal disbursement (PWD).

Under specific conditions, a leave of absence (LOA or suspension of studies) for less than 180 days in a 12 month period may qualify as an 'approved' leave of absence. If you are granted an 'approved' LOA, you are not considered to have withdrawn, and no Return calculation is required. However, during the LOA, your financial need will not increase and you will not be eligible for any disbursements of federal student aid. If you are granted an approved LOA you will maintain in-school status for Title IV loan repayment purposes.

If you do not attend even initial lectures or seminars you are ineligible to receive any Title IV funds and all loan proceeds will be returned to the US Department of Education. You will be liable for any fees or outstanding balances owed to the college or University.

How do I increase / decrease / cancel my loan, mid-year?

Please see our How to Apply page (last section).

What is the EFC?

EFC stands for 'expected family contribution' and is shown on your Student Aid Report (SAR) which is generated once you complete your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). However, this amount is irrelevant for graduate students as you may still borrow up to the full Cost of attendance, even if you have a high EFC

What is an origination fee?

This is the fee charged by the US Department of Education to cover initial administrative charges related to your loan. For information on origination fee amounts please refer to our US Loan page (Loan types and amounts).

What are the entrance and exit counselling?

Entrance and exit counselling are short online courses which will help you understand the responsibilities and obligations associated with a student loan. It is a US Department of Education requirement that you undertake entrance and exit counselling (accessed at StudentLoans.gov) at the start and end of your studies for which you receive loans. The counselling informs you about loan repayment, money management, your responsibilities as a borrower and it outlines the terms and conditions of your loan. The US loans administrators will request that you complete exit counselling towards the end of each academic year or if you withdraw, suspend or cancel your loan.

What is a Guarantor?

This is an organisation approved by the US Department of Education to guarantee Direct loans; generally a state-operated organisation or non-profit agency. They are required to maintain a reserve to cover defaulted loans, and to conduct default prevention activity. Guarantors also serve as the security or collateral on these loans, so students are not required to obtain co-borrowers. You can check your guarantor details at StudentLoans.gov.

How do I obtain proof of funding for visa purposes?

Once your federal loans have been processed, the US loans administrators will send you an award letter by email. A scanned version can be available upon request. This letter can be used as a proof of funding.

How do I contact the US loans Administrators and the Financial Aid Office?

Please send an Email to: