The William D Ford Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program offers the following loans to students attending foreign schools.
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.
Interest rates for Federal Stafford loans
All Stafford Loans disbursed on or after 1 July 2006 have an interest rate which is fixed at 6.8 percent.
The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 cut the interest rate to 5.6 percent for newly originated (taken after 1 July 2009) subsidized loans for undergraduates.
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:
Interest rates for Federal Plus loans
All PLUS Loans disbursed after the 1 July 2006 have an interest rate which is fixed at 8.5 percent under the old Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) and at 7.9 percent under the Direct Loan Program.
PLUS loan for parents or a private student loan; see the comparison (PDF - 120 KB)
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.
To apply for a Smart Loan, you must apply on-line and then send a copy of your e-signed Promissory Note along with a completed Cost of Attendance (COA) (Excel - 56KB) and covering letter to:
The Student Funding Office, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, B15 2TT
You can also send these documents by email.
Please note: 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.