US Federal Direct Loans: Distance Education

Distance education and/or online courses are NOT ELIGIBLE for participation in the U.S. Federal Direct Loan Program.

If you have any distance education and/or online course(s) on your SFU record, you are not eligible for any U.S. Federal Direct Loan funding (now or in the future) towards the same program or credential at SFU, per the US Department of Education.

If you (or a department on your behalf) add a distance education/online course after your current loan has been disbursed, you are required to pay back the disbursement (as per the terms and conditions of your Master Promissory Note).

As a student receiving US Federal Direct Loan funding, regularly visit Maintaining Eligibility to stay informed of your rights and responsibilities. For questions, contact us or send us an email at

COVID-19 Temporary Exemption to Distance Education effective March 1, 2020 to June 30, 2023

Due to COVID-19, the U.S. government approved an amendment that waived the prohibition against Distance Education and/or online courses for students receiving U.S. Direct Loans for study at eligible non-U.S. institutions of higher education. This includes courses offered during remote learning.

The waiver applies for the period March 1, 2020, up to and including June 30, 2023.

What this means to you:

There is no impact on your eligibility for U.S. government student loans, now or in the future, if you were required to complete your Spring 2020 term remotely. 

There is no impact on your eligibility for U.S. government student loans, now or in the future, due to registration in distance education and/or online courses at SFU during the following terms: Summer 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Summer 2021, Fall 2021, and Spring 2022, Summer 2022, Fall 2022 and Spring 2023. 

FAQ about US Direct Loans and Distance Education

1. What are Distance Education courses and how do I know I am registering for a Distance Education course at SFU?

Distance Education online courses are delivered to you via a Learning Management System (LMS), which in turn is managed by your tutor-maker (TM). Students do not sit in a physical classroom and interact with other students online through a dynamic online learning community at SFU. The LMS facilitates every aspect of the learning process.

Distance Education courses are listed as follows: Course Name, Course Number, and then Course Section starting with a "C" to designate that the course is offered through CODE. The following is an example of a distance education course offering:


A Distance Education course will look like this on your transcript:


2. What courses are offered through SFU Centre for Online and Distance Education (CODE)?

Visit the Centre for Online and Distance Education for a complete list of all and current courses offered.

Registration in any Distance Education courses will impact your eligibility for current and future US Direct Loans at SFU. This reminder is included in the course description of all Distance Education courses offered through CODE.

3. What if I am paying for these distance education courses from my own funds (i.e. not using Direct Loan funds to pay for the Distance Education courses), can I still receive my US Direct Loan for this semester?

No. Even if you are paying for Distance Education course(s) from your own funds, you are not eligible for US Direct Loan funding if you are taking any distance education courses towards the completion of your credential.

4. What if I choose to take Distance Education courses in a semester outside of my loan period. For example, if I apply for a US direct loan, remain otherwise eligible, and receive disbursements for Fall and Spring, but not for Summer, can I enroll in Distance Education courses in Summer and still be eligible for US Direct Loans in future semesters?

No, you are not permitted to enroll in any distance education courses within or outside of your loan period, as they are considered “ineligible courses”. The academic work you earn from the Distance Education courses will be considered for credit toward completion of your program or otherwise fulfill a requirement for graduation for that program. If your program has an “ineligible course”, the program becomes ineligible for US Direct Loans.

5. What are the consequences to my US Direct Loans if I choose to take a Distance Education course as part of my program or credential at the foreign school (i.e. SFU)?

If you choose to enroll in any Distance Education courses even if you pay for the course on your own and you do not use US Direct Loan funds for the Distance Education course, your program or credential at SFU will be considered to have an ineligible component, resulting in your program or credential becoming ineligible for funding. Subsequently, you will no longer be eligible to receive any future Direct Loan funds for the same program or credential at SFU.

6. What happens if I register for a Distance Education course after my loan is disbursed?

SFU currently has a report to track registration in Distance Education courses after disbursement of US Direct Loans. If your enrollment shows that you have added Distance Education courses after your loan is disbursed, you will no longer be eligible for this disbursement or for any future Direct Loans at SFU. Any subsequent pending disbursements in your loan period will be cancelled.

SFU will adjust your Cost of Attendance to eliminate the Distance Education course from the Cost of Attendance calculation. If applicable, SFU will report this enrollment change to National Student Loan Data System.  If this change in enrollment causes you to be less than half time, you will need to contact your servicer for repayment information.

7. What are my options for funding if I can no longer receive US Direct Loan funds in the future because of an ineligible course component?

You may consider Private Loans. If you are considering this option, we encourage you to research the terms and conditions carefully. The terms and conditions of the Title IV loans may be more favorable than the provisions of the private education loans. You can check the differences between federal student loans and private loans. If you take out a private student loan, you may have to begin making payments while you are still in school. Contact the holder of that private student loan immediately to arrange payment, should you decide to choose this option. 

SFU currently has an online loan certification system with SallieMae.  However you are not obligated to use SallieMae and may choose another private lender, provided they support private loans to Foreign Schools. For more information, visit our Private Loans page.

8. If I become ineligible for future US Federal Aid funding, how will this impact my repayment of US Federal Aid?

If you become ineligible to receive US Federal Aid funding, and you are registered at least half-time in your program, SFU will report your enrollment information to your previous lenders/servicers every 60 days through an online* enrollment roster. This deferment is only completed if you have previously received a US student loan through SFU or you have contacted Financial Aid and Awards to initiate a deferment. By having your loans deferred through an in-school deferment, this will defer your repayment obligation. Contact your servicer for your repayment information.

*Note: If have previous Perkins Loans (through a school in the US) or a Private Loan (a loan that is not through the US Department of Education), you must contact SFU Financial Aid and Awards to initiate a manual deferment request.