Financial aid for Canadian and American students

Birkbeck is authorised to administer a range of loans for students from Canada and the United States.

Loans for Canadian students

Students from Canada may be eligible for Canadian federal or provincial student loans. For further information on eligibility and how to apply, please visit: 

Birkbeck's institution code is PUEU. For more information or official College certification as part of an application for financial assistance, please contact our Student Advice Service.

Financial aid for American students

Birkbeck is authorised to administer a range of loans for students from the United States. As Birkbeck is a foreign school (not a US-based school) the main financial aid available to US students is through federal student loans. We are also able to certify loans from some private student loan providers, and for education benefits from the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

  1. Applying for your loan
  2. What to do after you apply for your loan
  3. Processing your loan application
  4. Receiving your loan
  5. Loan repayments
  6. What happens if you withdraw from your course?
  7. Consumer disclosures for students receiving Federal Student Aid

1. Applying for your loan

Loans can cover your tuition fee costs and your living costs, or a combination of both. Loans are usually paid out three times a year, corresponding with the three terms of the academic year

US Federal Direct Loans

  • There are two different types of federal direct loans: subsidised and unsubsidised. Both types are available to undergraduate students (studying a BSc/BA/LLB) but subsidised loans are not available to postgraduate students (studying a MSc/MA/LLM or higher). Each type of loan only provides a limited amount of funding that is unlikely to cover your costs in full (see Cost of Attendance below).
  • How to apply: Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.

US Direct PLUS Loans

  • PLUS loans can be used to help with study costs that are not covered by subsidised and unsubsidised loans. Postgraduate students (studying a MSc/MA/LLM or higher) can apply for PLUS loans; undergraduate students (studying a BSc/BA/LLB) cannot apply for PLUS loans, but if you are still classed as dependent on your parents financially they can apply for a PLUS loan to support you. Find out more about US Direct PLUS loans.
  • How to apply: You (or your parents) will need to complete an online application form. (Note: postgraduate students/dependent undergraduate students should complete a FAFSA application first.) 

VA Educational Benefits

Private loans

  • Student loans are available from some private providers in the US to pay towards study costs if you are not eligible for Federal Student Aid, or if your total Cost of Attendance is not fully covered by the federal direct loans available to you (see above).
  • Birkbeck does not endorse any particular private student loan provider located in the United States who may offer loans for study at foreign schools. (There are many providers of private student loans, but only a few of them will support study outside of the US, so you should always check with them before making an application.) In fact, we are currently only aware of one such provider - Sallie Mae. Birkbeck can certify loan requests from Sallie Mae but only when a request to do so is received from the student and the ability to certify the request is available on the Sallie Mae secure website.
  • The amount available will depend on the loan provider and their assessment of your credit history, but providers will usually ask us to certify that the amount requested is in line with your Cost of Attendance (see below). 

Birkbeck’s Federal School Code / OPE ID

  • Birkbeck’s federal school code is G09084.
  • Birkbeck's Office of Post-secondary Education identifier (OPE ID) is 00908400.
  • Birkbeck can be listed as 'Birkbeck - University of London' or 'UNIV OF LONDON, BIRKBECK' or 'University of London: Birkbeck College' on Federal Student Aid/US Department of Education websites.
  • Some private lenders who search under the list of eligible institutions who are allowed to participate in student financial aid programs are unable to find Birkbeck. If this should happen, please inform your lender that Birkbeck College is often listed as ‘University of London: Birkbeck College’.

Cost of Attendance (CoA)

  • For new undergraduate students (BSc/BA) the estimated CoA for the 2017-18 academic year is USD $28,935 (not including tuition fees).
  • For new postgraduate students (MSc/MA/LLM or higher) the estimated CoA for the 2017-18 academic year is USD $35,058 (not including tuition fees).
  • LLB students are assessed as postgraduate if they already have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, and assessed as undergraduate if this is their first degree.
  • How is the CoA calculated? We calculate a weekly cost for rent, board (ie food and utility bills), costs for books and photocopying, transportation costs, and a personal allowance for discretionary costs (such as clothing and social activities). We also include amounts for two flights back to the US, visa costs, computer hardware costs (ie a laptop and printer) and healthcare. These costs are a standard amount used by most universities in the Greater London area.
  • If you believe that your cost of attending will be higher (because of specialist equipment needed to support a disability, for example) , providing as much information as possible about these additional costs.
  • The CoA is calculated according to expected costs for a US national studying in the UK. Students who hold dual-nationality with an EU country (including the UK) may have a lower CoA.

Amount you can borrow

  • You can usually borrow up to the total CoA (see above), plus tuition fees, after any bursary/grant/scholarship amount and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) have been deducted. (Your EFC can be found on the Student Aid Report generated as part of your FAFSA application if you have applied for federal direct loans.) 
  • Direct subsidised and unsubsidised loans: there are maximum amounts available for direct loans. The actual amount you may be eligible for will depend upon your circumstances: 
    • The maximum available for direct subsidised loans is USD$3500. These loans are usually only available for undergraduates. 
    • The maximum available for direct unsubsidised loans depends on whether you are undergraduate (USD$6000) or postgraduate (USD$20,500). 
  • Direct PLUS loans: The maximum Direct PLUS Loan will depend on the circumstances and credit history of the person applying for the PLUS Loan (ie you for a Graduate PLUS Loan, or your parents for a Parent PLUS Loan) and that of any endorser. The maximum that you may be eligible for is your Cost of Attendance minus any other funding (including direct subsidised and unsubsidised loans, your estimated family contribution, and any bursaries/grants/scholarships you may be receiving). 
  • Private student loans: The maximum private student loan that we can certify is your Cost of Attendance minus any other funding (direct subsidised and unsubsidised loans, Direct PLUS loans, your expected family contribution, and any bursaries/grants/scholarships you may be receiving). The actual amount of loan that you may be eligible for will depend upon your credit history and that of any endorser/guarantor you may use. Your loan provider will be able to give you more information on this.
  • Applying for finance after you've started your course: It is possible to apply for additional funds later in the academic year if you need it, up to the maximum cost of attendance. before 31 May during your academic year of study if you need to increase your borrowing or request additional funds for the current year.

2. What to do after you apply for your loan

Before contacting us about your funding please make sure that you have:

  • applied to the course that you wish to study at Birkbeck
  • applied for the relevant funding. 

Liaising with Birkbeck over your loan application

  • Please be aware that July-September are the busiest months for processing US student loans. We suggest that you submit your loan application as soon as possible after you have received an offer to study at Birkbeck. 
  • For direct subsidised/unsubsidised loans and Direct PLUS loans, you should with the following information:
    • Your Birkbeck ID number (this is usually eight digits long, eg 13123456). 
    • Confirmation of the amount of direct subsidised/unsubsidised loan that you are requesting (if this is less than the maximum available to you). 
    • Whether you are applying for Direct PLUS loans, and if so the amount of PLUS loans that you are requesting if less than the maximum available. 
    • Whether you are receiving student aid from any other sources (eg scholarships or bursaries) and, if so, the amount that they are providing. 
    • Evidence that you have completed Entrance Counselling (this can be either a copy of the completion certificate or a screenshot). 
    • A copy of your completed Master Promissory Note (please note that there is a separate MPN for PLUS loans, so if you are requesting a PLUS loan you will need to submit two MPNs: one for direct subsidised/unsubsidised loans and one for Direct PLUS Loans).
  • For VA educational benefits, you should with the following information as soon as possible: 
    • details of the course that you wish to study
    • your full name and current US address
    • your date of birth
    • your social security number
    • your chapter number (this can be obtained from the Dept. of Veterans Affairs if you do not know it).
    • a scanned copy of your certificate of eligibility. 
  • For private student loans, you should with the following information:
    • the name and details of your loan provider 
    • your Birkbeck ID number (this is usually eight digits long)
    • confirmation of the amount of private student loan that you are requesting (if this is less than the maximum available to you). 

3. Processing your loan application

We will only contact students who have made an application to Birkbeck to study a course: if you have applied for funding at Birkbeck through a FAFSA but have not made an application to study with us we will not contact you. 

Processing FAFSA loan applications

  • We usually begin processing new applications in June each year (so if you are starting in October 2018 we will start processing the application in June 2017) and will contact you to confirm what funding you should be eligible for.
    • If you made your FAFSA application before June you can expect to be contacted by 7 June.
    • If you apply via a FAFSA after 1 June we will usually contact you within seven days.
  • Providing you have given us all the information that we require, we will issue a confirmation letter to confirm how much funding you are expected to receive and this should be used to support any application for a visa that you may need to make. 

Certifying private student loans

  • If you are applying for a private student loan, we will aim to certify the amount within seven days of you requesting this and we will contact you to confirm when this has been done. Please note that we have no control over how long it may take a provider to approve your loan after this. 
  • We recommend that you to confirm that you have applied for a private student loan and who the loan provider will be. As we are a foreign school, requests for certification are occasionally not received from the provider.

4. Receiving your loan

We will only originate student loans for students who have accepted an offer to study at Birkbeck. If you have been made an offer to study (either a conditional offer or an unconditional offer), we will usually wait until you have accepted this before originating any student loans.

Funds will be transferred directly from the US Treasury to overseas institutions for direct loan (subsidised, unsubsidised and PLUS) payments.

When is payment issued?

  • Most loans are issued in three instalments, equivalent to one per term. Where possible we request these instalments to be at the start of the term. When your loan has been originated we will provide you with confirmation of the dates we expect each instalment to be available to you.
  • Please note: the first instalment will not be released until after the start of the first term each year. You should make arrangements to have enough money for living costs until this money clears your bank account. 

What currency do you need to pay in?

  • The funds will need to be converted to GBP before we are able to accept them. Our Income Office will liaise with a local bank to have funds converted. Please note that this process can take around two weeks. 

How will the loan be allocated?

  • Your funds will be used to pay a relevant proportion of your fees first (where three instalments are expected, this would usually be a third of the total tuition fees per instalment). Any remaining amount will be refunded to a bank account nominated by you to be used towards living costs.

What do I do if the loan isn't enough to pay my tuition fee?

  • Please note: If the amount of loan that you have requested is not sufficient to cover your tuition fees in full and you are applying for a student visa you will need to pay a deposit to secure your place at Birkbeck. 
  • This must be paid from your own finances, as your student loan will not be available until the start of your first term. If your loan amount covers your tuition fees in full you will not be required to pay the deposit.

5. Loan repayments

Please note that Birkbeck assumes no responsibility whatsoever for the repayment of your loan. It is your responsibility to repay your loan.

If your details change while you are studying

  • You will need to:
    • notify your loan servicer of anything that affects your ability to repay your loan
    • notify your loan servicer of any changes in your status, including graduation, and any changes to your name, address, or telephone number
    • notify your loan servicer if you fail to enrol for the period covered by your loan
    • notify the Head of Academic Services of any change in your address or student status.

Deferment of federal and private loan repayments

  • You have the right to defer your previous loan repayments while enrolled in further study of at least 50% full-time equivalent. To do this you must request a deferment form from your loan servicer and have it certified by the Birkbeck Registrar’s Office. You are welcome to post the form or bring it to the Student Advice Service for collection the next working day.
  • Please note that, as Birkbeck is outside of the US, your loan servicer will not be automatically informed that you have resumed study. It is your responsibility to get the correct paperwork filled out and to return this documentation to your loan servicer. 

6. What happens if you withdraw from your course?

How much will you need to pay back?

  • If you withdraw from your course or take an official break in studies, then Birkbeck must inform your lender and any 'unearned' portion of your loan has to be immediately repaid by you.
  • The 'unearned' portion of your loan is based on the remaining amount of the current term. For example, if the current term is 11 weeks long and you withdraw or suspend your studies in week two, then nine weeks' worth of your loan is ‘unearned’. In this example, Birkbeck will return nine weeks of your tuition fees to the US treasury and you must repay any additional funds you received to your loan servicer. The 'earned' part of both the tuition and additional funds will be repaid according to your standard repayment terms. See the Return of Title IV Funds Policy for further information.

7. Consumer disclosures for students receiving Federal Student Aid