You will need to complete a number of steps in order to obtain a Federal Direct Stafford Loan. Please be aware that the University will not automatically offer you a loan, regardless of the information you may have received from Federal Student Aid on completion of your FAFSA.
Ensure that you have familiarised yourself with all the types of federal aid available at the University, including eligiblity criteria and any exemptions.
If you are only applying for a Private Loan from Sallie Mae, please visit our dedicated Private Loan webpage for information on how to apply, as the process will be different to that listed below.
When to apply for a loan
The University will only process applications for Federal or Private Loans from July 1, prior to the start of the academic year. Any applications received before this date will be pended until the relevant time. Please be aware that your FAFSA can be completed from January 1.
Follow the 7 steps below to ensure that you receive your loan(s):
Step 1. Complete the FAFSA
You will need to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can be completed online via the FAFSA website.
The FAFSA has seven steps that asks you about your personal details (Social Security Number, driver’s license, etc), your financial information and your School plans. On completion, you will receive a 3 page Student Aid Report (SAR) sent to your e-mail address.
Please ensure that you enter the school code G08908 for the University of Birmingham so that we will automatically receive a copy of your SAR.
Please note, we do not send our financial aid offers based on this information alone, you must complete steps 2-7 below.
Step 2. Check your Student Aid Report (SAR)
The University will use the information in your SAR to confirm eligibility for a loan, therefore you must check that the information is correct.
- have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) figure;
- be a US citizen or permanent resident;
- be registered with Selective Service (males only), unless exempt.
Step 3. Complete the University's Loan Request Form
Once you have completed the steps above, you will need to complete the University's Loan Request Form.
As part of this application you will need to provide financial information regarding your student income and expenditure.
Once the form has been submitted, you will recieve an acknowledgement e-mail from the University and be provided with information about the next stage of the application process.
Step 4. Review your Loan Recommendation
The amount of money you can borrow is partially determined by your eligibility and by how much money it will cost you to participate in your studies. This is known as the Cost of Attendance (COA).
Once you have completed your Loan Request Form, an assessor from Funding, Graduation & Awards will provide you with a Cost of Attendance (COA) breakdown and a loan recommendation (in the form of an Excel spreadsheet) rounded up to the nearest dollar.
You can use this recommendation to determine how much you need to borrow from each type of loan available to you.
Stafford Loans have borrowing limits which are determined by the level of study you are undertaking and your dependency status; these limits can not be exceeded and any additional funds required should be taken as PLUS or Private Loan.
To view the aggregate and annual loan limits visit the Federal Student Aid website.
Please note, the total amount of money that you request should not exceed the amount calculated on your Cost of Attendance (COA).
Step 5. Complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN)
Before we can process any Federal Loan request, you will need to complete a Direct Loan MPN. Students are strongly encouraged to make an electronic application via Student Loans.
An MPN will need to be completed for each type of loan you intend to borrow, including:
- Direct Loan Subsidized/Unsubsidized
A new MPN will be required for each academic year (loan period) that you borrow.
The MPN is a binding legal document between you and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) that outlines the terms of your loan.
Please note, you should keep a copy for your own personal reference and forward an electronic copy to the University (see Step 7).
If you would require a paper copy of your MPN to sign, you will need to request one by contacting COD Applicant Services on 1-800-557-7394.
Students borrowing a Private Loan (Sallie Mae) will be required to complete an e-Promissory Note as part of the loan application. For more information, visit our Private Loans webpage.
Step 6. Complete Entrance Counseling
It is a legal requirement that all first-time Direct Loan borrowers receive entrance counseling. This will help to ensure that you are aware of your rights and responsibilities as a borrower. Entrance counseling must be undertaken before any money can be released to you.
Entrance counseling is available via Student Loans.
Due to the serious nature of borrowing, the University of Birmingham recommends that continuing students undertake entrance counseling on an annual basis to help make informed borrowing decisions, however, this is not a legal requirement.
In addition to entrance counseling, the US Department of Education provides an online resource known as Financial Awareness Counseling Tool (FACT) to help borrowers estimate their total debt and repayment amounts upon leaving University.
Please note, if you are a first-time borrower, you should save a copy of your completion certificate as the University will need to verify this before we can release your loan (see Step 7).
Step 7. Confirm loan amount and submit documents
Following the receipt of your loan recommendation, you will be need to confirm in writing (via email) how much you intend to borrow (to the nearest dollar) from each type of loan available to you. You will need to attach the following supporting documents and send these to your designated assessor:
- a copy of your MPN for each type of loan;
- a copy of your entrance counseling certificate (first-time borrowers only)
Once these documents have been verified, we will process your loan request via the U.S. Department of Education's Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) website.
Once approved, the appropriate loan amounts will be collected by the University on your behalf at the relevant time.
What happens next?
You will receive written confirmation of the approved loan amounts (after deduction of origination fees) and anticipated disbursement dates.
This document meets the requirements of the UK Border Agency in order to help you obtain your Visa; the letter will be sent to you as a PDF on official University letterhead.
Please note that the stated disbursement date on the letter is the date we intend to make your loan payment (after the deduction of any University fees). With international banking, however, there can may delays outside of our control.
For more information, visit Disbursements.
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Glossary of terms
Entrance & Exit Counseling
Entrance Counseling is a federal requirement of all first-time borrowers taking out a Federal Direct Subsidized or Unsubdidized Loans. Exit Counseling will be requested by all borrowers upon completition of, or withdrawal from, their degree program.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid used by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to determine your financial need.
Master Promissory Note (MPN)
A legal document in which you promise to repay your loan(s) and any accrued interest and fees.
Student Aid Report (SAR)
A compilation of all the information submitted on the FAFSA. The information is used by the University to assess eligibility for Federal Loans.