Learn about US financial aid , Pūtea āwhina a Amerika

What you need to know about US financial aid, including how your aid package is unique, the cost of attendance, exchange rate, repayments and financial aid at Massey.

As a student from the United States at Massey, you're likely to qualify for federal loans from the US government.

Explore financial aid on Federal Student Aid

We manage federal aid for you

You apply directly to the US Government for federal aid and, if you qualify, we award and process your financial aid. Each institution has a different financial aid process although some areas are the same.

We use the information on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to help us work out:

  • the federal loans you qualify for
  • how much you can borrow in different types of loans.

We can put together your financial aid package after all the paperwork is completed.

Read how financial aid is calculated

Your loan is unique to you

As your education provider, Massey works out how much federal aid you can get using:

  • your personal background
  • the qualification you're applying for.

Usually, most US citizens and residents can get some kind of federal loan. But the only way to find out if you qualify or how much you could get is to apply.

Use the eligibility estimation tool at Federal Student Aid

Borrowing money

Loans from the federal government can help you pay for college study. This form of financial aid is a loan with interest that builds up. You need to pay back:

  • how much you borrow – the 'principal'
  • interest on what you borrow.

As with all loans, you sign an agreement with a lender. If you take out a US federal loan, your lender is the US Department of Education.

You have a grace period of six months on all new loans before you need to start repaying them. If you already had federal loans before studying at Massey, you start repayments when you graduate, drop below half-time enrolment or withdraw.

If you withdraw from your degree, you still need to pay back the amount you have borrowed so far and any interest.

Changing or withdrawing from study

How you get your money

Federal aid money is not sent directly to your bank account. The US Government disburses loan money to Massey, and we use it to pay your tuition fees. Then we transfer any money left into your New Zealand bank account. Use this to pay for your accommodation and other study and living costs.

US Government regulations mean we give your federal aid to you in instalments, called 'disbursements'. So you need to have enough money to cover your costs before you get your first disbursement.

Disbursement of your loan

Apply each year you need it

If you want a US federal loan, you may need to apply for a new loan each year because:

  • a federal loan covers your costs for one year or less
  • most students need a federal loan each year of their degree.

Even if you’re a returning student, you need to fill in two forms each year to apply for a loan.

You don’t have to apply if you don’t need federal aid for the year. Or you can choose to borrow less than the full amount of your financial aid package for the year.

See how to apply for US financial aid

Dependent and independent students

How much you can borrow in federal loans depends on whether you are a dependent or independent student. You need to say which you are when you fill in your Free Application for Federal Student Aid Form (FAFSA) each year.

Dependent and independent students at Federal Student Aid

If you're a dependent student, you need to give both your own and your parents’ information in your loan application.

If you're an independent student, you give your own information plus that of your spouse if you're married.

Cost of Attendance

Your US financial aid package is based on the Cost of Attendance (COA) and personal information on your loan application.

The Cost of Attendance is an estimate of how much an average student spends to complete a qualification at Massey.

The COA has different parts and changes each year. We review the COA each year, after tuition and non-tuition fees are updated.

The COA includes allowances for:

  • books and study supplies of NZD $1,200 each year
  • living costs, including rent, utilities, food and personal expenses – this varies by campus and city
  • loan fees for federal aid loans
  • travel to and from New Zealand – NZD $3,500 to pay for a return flight each year of study
  • bus travel if you're studying in Auckland or Wellington – this covers the average cost of a bus pass because our Manawatū campus in Palmerston North has free bus travel.

You may have some study costs that are personal to you. Give details in your loan application and we may be able to add these costs to your COA.

Examples of personal study costs include:

  • child care for dependent children
  • disability support.

Living in New Zealand

Apply for US financial aid

What your COA doesn't include

If you're a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident as well as a US citizen, your Cost of Attendance doesn't include some costs that international students have. These are the costs of:

  • compulsory health and travel insurance
  • travelling to and from New Zealand.

Expected Family Contribution

This is how much your family could pay towards your study and living costs.

We use information from your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to work out your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

We subtract your EFC from your Cost of Attendance to work out your individual financial need.

See more about Expected Family Contribution (EFC) at Federal Student Aid

Currency exchange rates

Student loans are taken out and paid in US dollars while your fees and living expenses need to be paid in New Zealand dollars. Currency exchange rates change all the time so the amount you get in New Zealand dollars may be much more or less than you expected when thinking in US dollars.

When you study in New Zealand, your loan amounts are converted between NZ dollars and US dollars twice. These separate exchange rate conversions take place at different times of the year.

First conversion

We need to use US dollars in student loan applications. We convert New Zealand dollars to US dollars when working out your Cost of Attendance (COA). The COA is in US dollars in your financial aid package and your award letter.

Massey University uses the average exchange rate from the previous year. For example, we use the 2023 average exchange rate for students who apply to study at Massey in 2024. The average exchange rate is updated each October.

The exchange rate for studying at Massey in 2024 is .61672 New Zealand dollars to 1 US dollar.

When the exchange rate changes, we do not redo the calculations.

Second conversion

The US Government sends US dollars for federal aid to Massey University's bank. The bank converts the funds to New Zealand dollars using the exchange rate on the day it received the money.

Bachelor of Veterinary Science

Massey's Bachelor of Veterinary Science is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Our degree takes five years instead of the eight years needed in the United States.

Even though this degree is an undergraduate degree at Massey, you can apply for a federal loan to study it as a postgraduate or professional qualification. To do this, you need an undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification first.

In the pre-selection part of the degree, in Semester One, you are:

  • counted as an undergraduate
  • given pro-rated Expected Family Contribution.

In the professional part of the degree, from Semester Two onwards, you are:

  • counted as a postgraduate
  • eligible for Graduate PLUS loans.

Types of federal loans

Veterinary students usually:

  • get student visas for six months to cover studying in the pre-selection part
  • apply for a longer student visa if they are selected for the professional part of the degree.

Bachelor of Veterinary Science

Manage your money

Understand your finances now and build a strong foundation for your future. For example, it's wise to:

  • make a realistic budget and stick to it
  • pay loan interest while you're studying so the interest doesn't mount up.

You can choose to pay loan interest:

  • when you fill in your Master Promissory Note (MPN) for each loan
  • at any time, by contacting your loan servicer.

Find out more about interest rates at Federal Student Aid

Find your loan servicers at Federal Student Aid

Learn about personal finances on MyMoney.gov

Develop money management skills with 360FinancialLiteracy

Financial and budgeting help at Massey

Exit counselling

You need to complete exit counselling:

  • before finishing your degree
  • if you drop below half-time enrolment
  • if you withdraw from your degree.

We send you an email about exit counselling.

You need to do your exit counselling within a month of finishing your studies. The US Government considers your studies finished on the last day of your final exam period. If you're an undergraduate, your final exams are usually in November. For Massey University, you finish your studies on your graduation date.

Complete exit counselling at Federal Student Aid


You need to repay federal student loans even if you:

  • do not complete your degree
  • don't have a job when you finish studying
  • don't work in a job connected to your degree
  • think your degree wasn't what you expected
  • do not get a bill.

If you don't pay back your federal student loans, it may lead to:

  • a bad credit score for you, so it's hard to take out other loans and get low interest rates
  • forced repayments from your salary or wages – garnishments
  • debt collection agencies contacting you
  • losing state and federal payments, like federal tax refunds and social security benefits
  • civil lawsuits and legal costs
  • suspension of any professional licence you have.

Plan your federal loan repayments at Federal Student Aid

When to start repayments

When you stop studying, you need to start repaying your student loans. This means you start loan payments when your classes end, not after your graduation ceremony. You also need to complete exit counselling at this point, which helps you understand how you can repay your loans.

If you have a direct subsidised loan, you have a six-month grace period before you need to start repayments.

Visit Federal Student Aid to:

Massey and US financial aid

The US Department of Education has approved Massey University to manage federal loans in financial aid packages for US students. Massey follows US Government rules when dealing with US federal loans.

Massey University does not have a US Employer Identification Number (EIN) so we do not send out 1098-T forms.

Drugs and alcohol

If you are 18 or over, you can buy alcohol and tobacco in New Zealand.

Learn about New Zealand drug and alcohol laws

See Massey's policy on alcohol on campus

Student conduct

At Massey, all students need to follow our policies to study with us.

Student Contract

Code of Student Conduct

Financial advantage of studying at Massey

Studying at Massey is cheaper than studying in the US for a few reasons.

Shorter degrees

In New Zealand, you focus on core classes in your degree and don't spend a year taking general education classes. In New Zealand, a:

  • bachelor's or undergraduate degree takes three years instead of four
  • master's degree in New Zealand takes one and a half years on average.

A shorter degree means you spend less on tuition, other fees, accommodation, meals, supplies and living expenses.

Strong exchange rate

Exchanging your US dollars for New Zealand dollars makes studying in New Zealand very good value, especially if you're looking at paying out-of-state tuition fees.

This table shows 2023 average costs of a bachelor's degree in US dollars, taken from College Tuition Compare. Average US costs of attendance for a bachelor's degree include tuition, fees, books, supplies, room and board, and other living expenses.

Average in-state and out-of-state tuition fees for a US undergraduate degree for one year and for four years. Costs are in US dollars.
Average US attendance costs for 1 year Average US attendance costs for 4 years
In-state tuition fees US $27,630 US $110,520
Out-of-state tuition fees US $41,467 US $165,868

Massey's average undergraduate tuition and living costs are:

  • NZ $54,641 for one year
  • NZ $163,923 for three years.

Convert New Zealand dollar amounts at the Bank of New Zealand

US students at Massey

The US Department of Education reports our fiscal year 2020 cohort default rate as 0.0.

2020 is the most recent year for which we have this cohort default rate information.

Contact us for help

Email if you have any questions.

Amy Odom

Senior Administrator
Student Fees and Compliance – Student Registry
Manawatū (Palmerston North)

Office location Student Registry Building, Room 1.38

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