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. If you are planning to undertake any study or research in the US in 2012/13, even for a short period, you will not be eligible for Direct Loans for the whole academic year.

Application process

Please ensure you complete all of the steps.

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).

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.

Entrance counselling is available on the Student Loans website.

Print a copy of your completion certificate

Printing out a copy of the completion certificate will enable you to prove that you have undergone entrance counseling. The University will need confirmation of this before they release your loan.

Step 4. Complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN)

In order to apply for a 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.

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).

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.

Step 6. Complete the PLUS loan request process

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

You are therefore asked to confirm your intention to borrow by submitting the following to the Student Funding Office:

  • Your full name.
  • Your social security number.
  • Your student identification number (you must have followed the admissions process to apply for a place at the University).
  • The amount you wish to borrow from each loan (Stafford Subsidized; Stafford Unsubsidized and if appropriate the Grad Plus or private loan (giving the loan name and lender)
  • The completed COA template (the University has to demonstrate to the U.S. Department of Education and private lenders that you are only borrowing money required to fund your studies - you can not borrow more than the COA)

In order to ensure there are no delays in your application you are also asked to send copies of your MPN and entrance counseling certificate. 

You can send these documents by email

or by posting the documents to:

Financial Aid Officer
Student Funding Office
Aston Webb Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

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.