Student loans from the USA

LibraryThe University of Birmingham is approved by the US Department of Education to offer the William D Ford Federal Direct Loan Programme, enabling eligible American students to access financial support.

Guide to applying for loans

The University of Birmingham cannot process any loan applications for the 2014-15 academic year until July 1 2014.  We would discourage any new or continuing students from sending documents to the Student Funding Office before this date as you may be required to re-submit them.  

Please contine to complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in accordance with any state guidelines andcomplete the University process at an appropraite date.

Our pages show you what loans are available, help you apply for a loan, and tell you more about how loans are paid to you and how you pay them back.

In-school deferment

Applying for in-school deferment allows you to suspend payments temporarily on your previous loans (Stafford, Plus, or Consolidation) while you are at university. It will also ensure that you are not charged interest on your current Stafford subsidized loan.

Tax benefits

Tuition and fees deduction

You can reduce income subject to tax by up to $4,000 for tuition and related expenses. Qualifying expenses are the tuition and fees required for enrolment or attendance at an eligible college, university or vocational school. You, your spouse, or your dependent must have incurred these expenses. To claim this deduction, taxpayers must file federal tax form 1040.

Student loan interest reduction

If you took out student loans, you may be able to deduct up to $2,500 in interest paid yearly. To qualify, you should have used proceeds from the loan toward qualified higher education expenses, including tuition, fees, room, board, supplies and other related expenses by you, your spouse, or dependent. To claim this deduction, taxpayers must file federal tax form 1040 or 1040A.

To find out further details call the IRS help line at (800) 829 1040. In addition, your state's Department of Education or Taxation can offer you advice on these and similar tax credits.

Glossary of terms

Cost of Attendance (COA)

The total amount of money that a student will require to attend school is known as the Cost of Attendance (COA). Federal law allows the value to include:

  • Tuition fees
  • An allowance for books, supplies and transport
  • An allowance to cover room and board (rent or hall charges)
  • An allowance for dependent care if necessary
  • An allowance to assist with any disability
  • Coverage of any charges or premiums associated with a Federal loan

On average the University estimates that a years tuition and living expenses will be in the region of £20,000 (approximately $40,000) for Graduates, less to non-graduates. If you disagree with this amount and feel you need more, then you need to send a detailed breakdown of your expected expenditure to the Student Funding Office.


If you default, it means that you have failed to make payments on your student loan according to the terms of your promissory note. Default is a serious matter. Some of the consequences of default are:

  • National credit bureaus can be notified of your default, which will harm your credit rating, making it more difficult to buy a car or house.
  • You would be ineligible for additional federal student aid if you decided to return to University.
  • Loan payments can be deducted from your paycheck.
  • State and federal income tax refunds can be withheld and applied toward the amount you owe.
  • You will have to pay late fees and collection costs on top of what you already owe.
  • You can be sued.

Default fees

The default fee (previously known as the "guarantee fee") is a charge made by the lender to cover any costs incurred if you miss repayments once you have graduated.


Deferment is a temporary period during which a borrower is not required to make payments.

For Stafford Loan borrowers, many deferments are subsidized, meaning the interest that accrues on the loan during the deferment is paid by the federal government. Some deferments are unsubsidized, meaning the interest that accrues must be paid by the borrower.

It is recommended that you contact your lender to discuss the option.

EFC (Expected family contribution)

The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the amount that dependent students are expected to receive in financial support from their parents. It is determined by a Federal government calculation that examines the family resources available from a family's income (less allowances for taxes and living expenses) and assets (less allowances for retirement) to assist a student in their studies. A percentage of these available amounts is earmarked as EFC.


The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form used by the U.S. Department of Education to determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) by conducting a “need analysis” based on financial information, such as income, assets and other household information, which you (and your parents if you are a dependent student) will be asked to provide. The form is submitted to, and processed by, a federal processor contracted by the U.S. Department of Education (ED), and the results are electronically transmitted to the financial aid offices of the schools that you list on your application.

The FAFSA is the application used by nearly all colleges and universities to determine eligibility for federal, state, and college-sponsored financial aid, including grants, educational loans, and work-study programs.


Forbearance is a temporary postponement of your loan repayments, for students who are not entitled to deferment. Again, it is recommended that you seek more information from your lender.

Grace period

A period of time after a borrower graduates, leaves school, or drops below half-time enrollment where they are not required to make payments on their Federal student loans. Interest will accrue on subsidized loans made between July 1, 2012 and July 1, 2014, and all unsubsidized loans during grace periods. If the interest is not paid, it will be added to the principal balance of the loan when the repayment period begins. Each loan has only one grace period.

Independant student

All graduate/professional students are considered independent; otherwise to be considered independent you must fit into one of the categories below:

  • Are older than 23 years at the time of completing the FAFSA
  • Are currently or have been married at the time of completing a FAFSA
  • Are a parent
  • Are a veteran
  • Are a ward of the court

The classification of your dependency status is used to determine how much of the Federal Stafford loan is available to you.


A Master Promissory Note (MPN) is a legally binding document under which the borrower promises to repay the loan and to comply with the terms and conditions of the agreement.

Origination fees

The origination fee is a charge made by the lender to cover the administrative charges related to your loan.

The loan origination fee percentages for Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and Direct PLUS Loans (for both parent borrowers and graduate and professional student borrowers) will change each federal fiscal year on October 1st in accordance with the Budget Control Act of 2011 (sequester law).

The origination fee will be taken from each disbursement.


The Student Aid Report (SAR) is a compilation of all the information that was submitted on the FAFSA. The information will be used by the school to assess eligibility for Federal loans, therefore it is important that the information is accurate. Changes can be made by logging back into the FAFSA website.

Resources and links

Direct Loan Servicing Center

Manage your Direct Loan online by making online payments, viewing your account balances and payment history, changing your billing options an enroll for electronic services.

Visit the Direct Loan Servicing Centre website.

National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS)

The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is a national database of information about loans and grants awarded to students under Title IV. NSLDS provides a centralised view of Title IV loans where you can also complete your Exit Counselling.

Visit NSLDS.

Selective Service Registration

All males over the age of 18 years are required to register in order to receive Federal loans. Register online or check the status of your registration.

Visit Selective Service System.

This site provides useful information from the U.S. Department of Education. Use your PIN to sign in and sign your Master Promissory Note (MPN) and complete your Entrance Counselling.


Consumer information

Under the Federal Code of Regulations both current and prospective students are advised to review the codes of practice, policies and guidance, in particular the areas of:

  • Copyright infringement ( see 'Computer Use' )
  • Drugs and alcohol (see 'Misconduct')
  • Student attendance and diligence (see 'Reasonable Diligence')

Please refer to the Welcome Guide (PDF - 4MB) for our advice on vaccinations.

In addition students should be aware of the services available  from the Disability and Learning Support Service and that any related costs can be included in their Cost of Attendance when applying for Federal or private loans. 

Missing persons

The University of Birmingham’s processes for dealing with Missing Students forms part of its Student Critical Incident and other related Protocols. Staff or students concerned about a student’s whereabouts should contact University Security, who in turn consult with the Student Services Division (SSD). SSD initiate appropriate checks with a range of internal and external agencies, which may include specific campus welfare services (for instance, Mental Health Advisors), student residences, and if appropriate emergency family contacts. SSD then undertake one of a range of appropriate responses, up to and including contacting West Midlands Police to report the student formally as a Missing Person and request a “Safe and Well” check. SSD may also contact the relevant embassy or consulate for international students.

For students under the age of 18 reported as missing, the parents/guardians and West Midlands Police are immediately contacted.

The University of Birmingham, its student residences and affiliated third-party accommodation providers all have 24 hour security, manned receptions and comprehensive CCTV cover. A 24-hour call-out rota for SSD staff is also operated.

Textbook information

You can use the Library Services Reading List system to discover which textbooks are recommended for your programme. All US students are reminded that recommended books are available to borrow from one of our libraries, therefore, you are not required to purchase any book yourself unless you choose to.

Retention, graduation and transfer-out rates

Click to review data on Retention, graduation and transfer-out rates (PDF - 200KB) at the University of Birmingham.

Cost of attendance

The average figures recommended for supplies, books/photocopying, transportation, utilities are published within our Cost of Attendance (COA) template (Excel - 56KB) for 2013/14.  

The average Cost of Attendance (based on actual loan amounts distributed) during the 2012-13 academic year was $32,653.

Satisfactory Academic Progress and Withdrawal information

All students applying for or receiving US Federal Aid (Subsidized, Unsubsidized and PLUS) must progress satisfactorily towards completion of a chosen academic programme in order to remain eligible to receive Direct Loans.

A student:

• Should not exceed 150% the published time frame for the course and should remain enrolled on at least part-time (half-time) status.

• Should pass any taught modules with a minimum of 40%. A progress decision will be sought from the supervisor of any Research students.

Satisfactory progression to retain Federal Aid is entirely separate from the academic requirements of the programme. 

Withdrawal from your programme

If you choose to withdraw from your programme you must inform the Student Funding Office in writing.  

Return of Title IV Direct Loan funds

It is a legal requirement that if a student who receives Federal Aid withdraws from the University, that a Return of Title IV calculation is undertaken to determine the students’ entitlement to Federal Aid based on the period of attendance. Unless a student has completed at least 60% of their programme (loan period), the University is required to repay funds to the U.S. Department of Education. Consequently, the student may be requested to make an additional tuition/accommodation payment to the University to replace these funds.

Please note that the withdrawal date is also the date that the student becomes responsible for repaying their loan(s). Only subsidized and subsidized loans qualify for a 6 month grace period.