There are three types of loans available to American students studying at the University of Birmingham; Federal Direct Stafford Loans, Federal Direct PLUS Loans and Private Loans (via Sallie Mae).
Federal vs Private Loan
Students are advised to take any Federal Loan they are entitled to before considering any other type of loan due to the competitive interest rate and repayment benefits they offer. A detailed comparison of Federal and Private Loans is published via the Federal Student Aid website.
Federal Direct Stafford Loans
The Federal Direct Stafford Loan has a low interest rate (fixed by the US government) and is available to both undergraduate and postgraduate students. The loan is divided into two parts: subsidized and unsubsidized. There are annual and aggregate limits in place which determine how much you can borrow.
Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan
The subsidized loan is awarded on the basis of financial need. If you're eligible, the government will pay (subsidize) the interest on your loan whilst in university and for the first six months after you leave (known as a grace period).
Please note, the Budget Control Act 2011 prevents any graduate or professional student from receiving a subsidized loan after July 1 2012. Consequently, students on a postgraduate or professional program such as Law or Teacher Training will need to borrow the whole of the Stafford Loan as an unsubsidized element.
Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan
You will be responsible for the interest on a unsubsidized loan from the time the loan is disbursed, until it is repaid in full.
For both types of loan, you can claim in-school deferment whilst enrolled at least half-time (part-time) in a degree or certificate program of study.
Federal Direct PLUS Loans
Direct Grad PLUS Loan
The loan is an unsubsidized federally guaranteed educational loan with no annual or aggregate limits. However, you may only borrow as much as you need (as determined by your cost of attendance). The loan is only available to students studying on a graduate or professional (law or teacher training) program.
A credit check will be performed during the application process. If you have an adverse credit history, you may be able to obtain a suitable endorser allowing you to obtain the loan.
There is no grace period and the loan enters repayment as soon as the funds are disbursed to the borrower. It has the same deferment and forbearance options as the Federal Stafford Loan.
As such, graduate and professional students can postpone repayment using in-school deferment whilst enrolled at least half-time (part-time) in a degree or certificate program of study.
Entrance counseling specifically for Graduate/Professional PLUS borrowers is available online, which includes a calculator to estimate monthly repayment amounts.
Direct Parent PLUS Loan
The Direct Parent PLUS Loan helps parents pay for the cost of education for a dependant who is enrolled as an undergraduate at the University. The interest rate is fixed for the life of the loan.
A credit check will be performed during the application process. If you have an adverse credit history, you may be able to obtain a suitable endorser allowing you to obtain the loan. The endorser cannot be the child on whose behalf you are borrowing.
Entrance counseling specifically for Parent PLUS borrowers is available online, which includes a calculator to estimate monthly repayment amounts.
Federal Loans are only available for students who have a physical presence at the University (Distance Learning programs are ineligible, but you may be considered for a Private Loan).
For more information about general eligbility criteria, please visit who is eligible for a loan.
Interest rates for Federal Loans
Under the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013, interest rates are established each year for Federal Loans for which the first disbursement is on or after July 1 through to the following June 30. The interest rate for a loan, once established, applies for the life of the loan. Interest rates are published via the Federal Student Aid website.
The only private loan currently available to students attending a foreign university (outside of the USA) is the Smart Option Loan from Sallie Mae. There are no origination fees and the interest rate will depend on your credit history and that of a co-signer. For more detailed information, visit our dedicated private loans page.
To apply for any of the loans listed above, you will need to follow the University's application process.
Veterans Affairs (VA) GI Bill Benefits
The University of Birmingham has been approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to administer GI Bill benefits to eligible students.
Our degree programs do not have automatic approval from the VA. We are required to seek approval for specific degree programs as and when eligible students enroll.
If you know you are eligible for GI Bill benefits and have been given an offer on a degree program at the University of Birmingham, please log an enquiry for Funding, Graduation & Awards including your:
- full name;
- student ID number;
- Social Security Number (SSN);
- intended program of study.
Please note that GI Bill benefits are only available to students on taught programmes with a physical presence at the University (therefore Distance Learning programs are not eligible).
Once your degree program has been approved by the VA, the University will submit an Enrolment Certificate on your behalf.
Information on the benefits available to veterans and eligibility criteria can be found at US Department for Veterans Affairs.
Other loans and grants
Current Federal legislation prohibits US citizens enrolled at a foreign university (outside of the US) from receiving Pell Grants, SEOG, Perkins Loans and Federal Work Study Funds.
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Glossary of Terms
Interest is money paid to your lender in exchange for borrowing money. Interest is calculated as a percentage of the unpaid principal amount (loan amount) borrowed.
A charge made by the lender to cover the administrative costs related to your loan.
Financial Aid Office
This is the term used by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to refer to the office within your chosen University who administers Federal Aid. At the University of Birmingham, this office is Funding, Graduation & Awards.
A period during which your monthly loan payments are temporarily suspended or reduced, as granted by your Lender.