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The Cost of Attendance (COA) is an estimate of a student's education expenses for the period of enrolment. Students are eligible to borrow loans up to their Cost of Attendance (COA) less any alternative education income such as grants.

The Cost of Attendance is the expected cost that a generic student will incur to complete their programme of study at the University of Otago. Each component of the COA calculation is reviewed annually. COA elements can include some or all of the following.

Tuition and Student Services Fees

The tuition fee component is dependent on your programme of study at the University of Otago. For information on the international student tuition fees and student services fees please refer to the tuition fees and costs for international students section of this website.

Living Allowance

The living costs allowance of NZ$442 per week for your period of study includes the cost of rent, utilities, food, transport and personal expenses.  These are set amounts (reviewed annually) and will not be adjusted to cover personal circumstances.

Textbook and Course Costs

An allowance of NZ$1,000 per year is included in the Cost of Attendance for books and supplies.  This is pro-rated for students studying for shorter periods.


Each student is awarded a fixed allowance of NZ$2,500 for each year of study.  This is only awarded once a year.  The difference between the allowance and actual cost of the flight is covered by the student.  This is not provided to students with NZ Citizenship or Permanent Residence.

Student Insurance

An allowance equivalent to the University of Otago default insurance premium is included in the Cost of Attendance. See more about compulsory insurance for international students.  A provision for insurance is not included for the calculation for students with NZ Citizenship or Permanent Residency.

Student Visa Renewal Fee

Every international student is required to have a valid student visa in order to remain in New Zealand.

The cost of the student visa on-campus will be included if the student will be returning the next year.

Students are required to lodge their application for renewal of their student visa in sufficient time prior to its expiry date in order to legally remain studying in New Zealand.


For a cost to be included in the Cost of Attendance it must be applicable to all students.  If you believe you have incurred such a cost you will need to provide evidence of such expenditure to the Financial Aid Administrator at least one month prior to hte last disbursement date for the year.

Care costs for a dependant child may be eligible for inclusion.  If this applies to you please contact the Financial Aid Administrator.

Your award notification and confirmation

You will be advised about your eligibility for need and non-need based aid. You will be required to formally confirm your intent to take this amount, or any other lesser amount on the Award Offer prior to disbursement taking place. You will receive an Award Letter via email (with read-notification attached) and the Award Offer form which must be completed and returned (original required) as soon as possible. If required, we can provide you with a letter for your visa application to prove that you have access to sufficient funds.

If you are a dependent student, the Award Letter will also stipulate how much money your parents can draw down for this award year as a PLUS Loan if they wish to. If your parents wish to utilize these funds, they need to complete the Parent PLUS loan application and we can award up to the discussed funding amounts.

Further information on applying for a Parent PLUS loan

The financial aid package that you (and your parents if you are a dependent student) accept will only last one year. You will have to go through this process annually. You will be sent a reminder email to ensure that you apply in time.

Exchange Rate

Figures in the Award Offer are listed in US dollar amounts and will be converted to NZ dollar amounts using the exchange rate in effect at the time of the delivery/return of funds. Revisions will NOT be made to reflect any changes in the currency exchange rate.

Award Offer

The University of Otago recommends that all students use the figures in the Award Offer to assist in creating a budget enabling you to plan for your 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 6-8 weeks of classes in the event that there is some delay in your financial aid being disbursed. Whilst we will do everything in our power to ensure this does not happen, we want you be covered for every eventuality.

Disbursement Methods and Dates

The Director, US Financial Aid will authorise your loan funds for release at the commencement of classes if your application is completed before this time. If you are a first time, first year undergraduate borrower, your Aid will be released for disbursement 30 days after the commencement of classes. This is a requirement under US law.

You will NOT receive funds prior to arriving in New Zealand.

Funds are received by the Revenue Management Office form the US Treasury. Within approximately 10 calendar days of release of funds from the US Treasury, the Revenue Management Office will receive your loan and you will be required to complete a Disbursement of Funds Form once your funds have arrived.

Your loans will be converted from US dollars into New Zealand dollars, and credited towards your tuition fee account and the remainder (after deduction of the insurance premium and sundries) will be refunded into your bank account (or in accordance with your disbursement options). It is expected that this process to take up to two weeks as a result of the university’s processes for handling payments in foreign currency.

If your Financial Aid does not cover your tuition fees, you will be advised.

Please Note: Figures are listed in US dollar amounts and will be converted to NZ dollar amounts using the exchange rate in effect at the time of the delivery/return of funds. Revisions will NOT be made to reflect any changes in the currency exchange rate.

If your parents have requested a PLUS loan on your behalf (dependent students only), the PLUS loan funds will be applied directly to your tuition fees account to cover our institutional charges.

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

If you have been approved for Direct Loan funds, the University of Otago's Director, US Financial Aid will make sure that your application is not hampered by not being eligible to obtain these funds prior to arrival in New Zealand.

Managing your money

You are encouraged to actively manage your loan funds - please take the time to review the information available on the US Department of Education website.

Contact Us

For all enquires about US Financial Aid at the University of Otago, please email