Federal loans available at the University

The William D Ford Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program offers the following loans to students attending foreign schools. 

All students are advised to apply for the Federal Stafford Loan in the first instance and use the other loans available for extra funding if required.

Federal Stafford Loan

The Stafford Loan has a low interest rate (fixed by the US government) and is made available to both undergraduate and postgraduate students. The Federal Stafford Loan is divided into two parts: subsidized and unsubsidized. Annual limits are in place.

A subsidized loan is awarded on the basis of financial need. If you're eligible for a subsidized loan, the government will pay (subsidize) the interest on your loan while you're in university and for the first six months after you leave university (known as a grace period).

Please note that the Budget Control Act 2011 prevents any graduate or professional student from receiving a subsidized loan after July 1st 2012. Consequently, students on a postgraduate programme or studying medicine or law will need to borrow the whole of the Stafford loan as an unsubsidized element.

An unsubsidized loan is where you are responsible for the interest from the time the unsubsidized loan is disbursed until it's paid in full.


Stafford loans are available to all US citizens or permanent residents with a valid social security number who have a high school diploma and are not in default on any previous student loans. Male students also have to be registered with the Selective Services. You must however be accepted onto at least a half-time (part-time) program of study at the University of Birmingham.

Students studying Distance Learning programmes at Foreign Schools are not eligible to apply for US Federal Loans.

Federal Plus loans

Federal Grad Plus loan

The Federal Grad PLUS Loan is only available to students studying on a graduate or professional (law or medicine) programme. The loan is an unsubsidized federally guaranteed education loan with no annual or aggregate limits.

It has no grace period and it goes into repayment as soon as the funds are disbursed to the borrower. It has the same deferment and forbearance options as the federal Stafford loan program. As such, graduate and professional students can postpone repayment using in-school deferment while enrolled at least half-time in a degree or certificate program of study.

Federal Parent Plus loan

The Federal Parent PLUS Loan helps parents pay for the cost of education for dependants who are enrolled as undergraduate students. The interest rate is fixed for the life of the loan.

The following information has been published to assist parents considering taking out a Parent PLUS Loan or a private loan and how the two types of loan compare:

PLUS loan for parents or a private student loan; see the comparison (PDF - 120 KB)

Interest rates

Under the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013, interest rates are established each year for Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and Direct PLUS Loans for which the first disbursement is on or after July 1 through the following June 30. The interest rate for a loan, once established, applies for the life of the loan.

2014 -15 interest rates

 Direct Subsidized Loans (Undergraduate students) - 4.66%

 Direct Unsubsidized Loans (Undergraduate students) - 4.66%

 Direct Unsubsidized Loans (Graduate/Professional Students) - 6.21%

 Direct Plus Loans - 7.21% 

Private loan

The only private loans currently available to students attending a foreign schools is the Smart Loan from Sallie Mae. The interest rate will depend on your credit history and that of a co-signer. Please contact Sallie Mae for further details.

Other grants

Current Federal legislation prohibits US citizens enrolled at a university outside of the US from receiving Pell Grants, SEOG, Perkins Loans and Federal Work Study Funds.  


To apply for any of the loans you will need to follow the University's application process.