Direct Loan application process


If you wish to take out a William D Ford Direct Loan (Stafford or Plus), you will need to complete the following steps. 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.

Study or research in the US

Direct Loans are only available to students undertaking the whole of their academic year's study at a foreign institution, therefore students studying on a distance learning programme or students planning to undertake any study or research in the US in 2014/15, even for a short period, will not be eligible for Direct Loans.

Application Process

Please be aware that the University will process applications for Federal or private loans from July 1 prior to the start of the academic year. 

Please follow all 7 steps listed below to ensure that you receive your loan: 

Step 1. Complete the FAFSA

You will need to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can be found online at FAFSA website.

The FAFSA has seven steps that ask about your personal details (Social Security Number, driver’s license, etc), your school plans, financial information, etc. On completion you will receive a 3 page SAR into the e-mail account given. 

Please ensure that you entered the school code G08908 for The University of Birmingham onto the FAFSA so that we will automatically receive a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR).

Please note, we do not send our financial aid offers based on this information alone, you must request a loan by completing steps 2-7 below. 

Step 2. Check the information on your SAR

The University will use the information in your SAR to confirm your eligibility for a loan, therefore you must check that the information is correct.

You should:

  • have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) on the top right
  • be a US citizen or permanent resident
  • have registered with Selective Service (males only)

Step 3. Complete entrance counselling

It is a legal requirement that all first-time Direct Loan borrowers receive entrance counselling. This will help to ensure that you are aware of your rights and responsibilities as a borrower. The counseling must be undertaken before any loan money can be released to you. 

Due to the serious nature of borrowing, the University of Birmingham asks all students to complete entrance counselling on an annual basis.

Entrance counselling is available on the Student Loans website.

Print a copy of your completion certificate

The University will need confirmation that you have completed the counselling before they release your loan.

Step 4. Complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN)

In order to apply for a Federal loan you will need to complete a Direct Loan MPN. Students are strongly encouraged to make an electronic application at Student Loans website.

An MPN will need to be completed for each type of loan you wish to borrow:

  • Direct Loan Subsidized/Unsubsidized
  • PLUS

NB. A new MPN is required each academic year

Print a copy of your MPN. The MPN is a binding legal document between you and the U.S. Department of Education that outlines the terms of your loan. You should keep a copy for your own personal reference and in order forward a copy to the University. 

If you would prefer a paper MPN you will need to request one by contacting COD Applicant Services on 1-800-557-7394.

Students wishing to borrow a private loan wil also receive a promissory note as part of the loan application.

Step 5. Determine how much you need to borrow

The amount of money you can borrow is partially determined by your eligibility and partially by how much money it will cost you to participate in your studies. This is known as the Cost of Attendance (COA).

Download the Cost of Attendance (COA) Calculator (Excel - 21KB)

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 should be taken from a PLUS or private loan.

To view the aggregate and annual loan limits visit the Federal Student Aid website.

Please note that the total amount of money that you apply for should not exceed the amount calculated on your Cost of Attendance.

Step 6. Complete the PLUS loan request process

Attending a foreign school can be costly and your cost of attendance (COA) will likely exceed the maximum Stafford loan available to you. You can borrow the additional amount through the Grad PLUS loan (graduates or professional students) or the Parental PLUS loan (parents of undergraduates)

Log on to the Student Loans website and complete the PLUS request process

Step 7. Write to the Student Funding Office

Even though you may have completed all the steps above, the University (Student Funding Office) will not know that you intend to take a loan, or even the amount you wish to borrow. In order for them to complete the loan process and for you to receive the loan you will need to complete and submit the American loan request form.

Once the form has been submitted you will recieve an acknowledgement e-mail and information about the next steps of the process.

You are also advised to read the other information on American loans on the University web pages.

What happens next?

The Student Funding Office will confirm your eligibility for a loan and the amount that you may borrow. This information will be passed to the U.S. Department of Education and the appropriate loans funds will be collected for you. 

You will receive written confirmation of your loan amounts and the disbursement dates; this documentation meets the requirements of the UK Border Agency to help you obtain your visa.

Please note that the stated disbursement date on the visa letter is the date that we intend to pay your loan payment. With international banking, however, there can be delays outside of our control.