Financial aid for American students

Birkbeck is authorised to administer a range of funding for students from the USA, including Federal Student Aid, some private student loans, and Veterans Affairs educational benefits.

You must apply directly to the relevant financial aid agency before we can confirm any details of your funding. When applying to an agency you should be able to select 'Birkbeck - University of London' from a list of schools although you may also be asked for our Federal school code, which is G09084, or our OPE ID/Office of Post-secondary Education identifier, which is 00908400.

There are three main types of funding available to US students through Birkbeck:

The amount of funding available to you will usually be based on the calculated Cost of Attendance - this is a calculation of how much it would cost to live in London during your studies.

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

  • applied to the course that you wish to study with us
  • applied for the relevant funding
  • added usloans@bbk.ac.uk to your email safe list to prevent our emails about your funding being incorrectly classified as spam.

If you have any questions please email usloans@bbk.ac.uk.

Federal student aid from the US Government

The US Department of Education can provide loans to students at Birkbeck through the Federal Student Aid programme (also known as Stafford Loans).

There are three types of loan currently available:

  • Direct PLUS Loans (available to postgraduate students or the parents of graduate students only).

To apply for subsidized and unsubsidized loans you will need to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

To apply for PLUS Loans, you (or your parent) will need to complete an online application form. Postgraduate students/dependent undergraduate students must complete a FAFSA first.

Please note that grants (such as the Pell Grant) are not available to students at schools outside of the United States.

What happens after I apply?

  • We usually begin certifying loans for the upcoming academic year from 1 June (eg for students starting in October 2018 this would be June 2018). This is the date that Federal Student Aid usually provides us with FAFSA information so although we try to answer general queries at any time we may not be able to answer some queries before June.
  • We aim to contact FAFSA applicants within one week of their details being made available to us. If you have not heard from us within one week of submitting your application (after 1 June) please email us.
  • We can only contact students who have made an application to study at Birkbeck: if you have applied for funding at Birkbeck through FAFSA but have not made an application to study with us we will not be able to contact you.
  • Once we have all the information we need and can originate your loans we will issue a letter to confirm how much funding you are expected to receive and when. This letter can be used to support any application for a visa that you may need to make.
  • 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.

How much funding will I get?

  • For students receiving Federal Student Aid there are maximum amounts available from the Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans which may not cover your cost of study in full.
  • Students/parents eligible for PLUS Loans may be able to borrow up to a total amount called the Cost of Attendance (CoA). This depends on the applicant's credit status (as assessed by the relevant agency). The CoA limit includes most other funding, such as Federal Student Aid, bursaries and scholarships.

When is the funding paid?

  • Loans are usually paid out three times a year, corresponding with the three terms of Birkbeck’s academic year. 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.
  • Payment is issued directly to Birkbeck for all FSA-funded students in USD and will then be converted to GBP. Fluctuations in exchange rates may mean that you receive less, or more, GBP than originally advised.
  • Loan 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 credit will be refunded to a bank account nominated by you to be used towards living costs.
  • Please note: the first instalment will usually not be released until the first week of term each year. You should make arrangements to have enough money to get to the UK and to cover your living costs until these funds are received.
  • If the amount of loan that you have requested will not be sufficient to cover your tuition fees in full and you are applying for a student visa, you may need to pay a deposit to secure your place at Birkbeck.
  • If exchange rate variations mean that your loan will no longer cover your tuition fees you can either pay the difference yourself or increase your FSA funding (where you are not already receiving the maximum funding available). Students will be advised after each disbursement is received if there will be an additional amount to pay, and students will be provided an opportunity to increase their loan before each disbursement.

What happens if I withdraw from my course?

  • If you withdraw from your course or take a break in studies, Birkbeck must inform Federal Student Aid 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.

Consumer disclosures for students receiving federal student aid

Loan repayment

new in the 2019-20 academic year

  • The US government are currently planning amendments during the 2019-20 academic year to Federal Student Aid called the Federal ONE Loan Program. When this has been ratified and the details confirmed, this web page will be updated.

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 Loans, or if you require additional funding.

Birkbeck does not endorse any particular private student loan provider. There are many providers, but only a few of them will support study outside of the US and you should always check with them before making an application. We are currently aware of only one provider: Sallie Mae.

What happens after I apply?

  • For private student loans, you should email us to let us know that you have a loan application requiring certification. You should tell us:
    • the name and details of your loan provider (including your reference number with them)
    • your Birkbeck ID number (this is usually eight digits, eg 13001234)
    • confirmation of the amount of private student loan that you are requesting.
  • If you are applying for a private student loan, we will aim to certify the amount within seven days of your request and 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.

How much funding will I get?

  • This depends on your credit status, as assessed by the loan provider. In most cases Birkbeck will be asked to certify the details of your study and that the loan amount is below the Cost of Attendance (CoA). The CoA limit takes into consideration most other funding, such as Federal Student Aid, bursaries and scholarships.

VA Educational Benefits (GI Bill)

Birkbeck is approved by the US Department of Veterans Affairs to administer education benefits to eligible students.

To apply, you need to complete an online application form. Some programmes may need to be approved separately and you can request this by emailing usloans@bbk.ac.uk. A full list of the pre-certified program can be found by searching for Birkbeck on the VA website.

What happens after I apply?

  • For VA educational benefits, you should email us with the following information as soon as possible:
    • details of the course 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 Department of Veterans Affairs if you do not know it)
    • a scanned copy of your certificate of eligibility.
  • Where your chosen programme of study needs to be approved by Veterans Affairs we aim to submit the application to them within seven days of Birkbeck receiving your request, however it can take the VA up to 28 days to approve a programme after they have received our application. We will email you to confirm when the programme has been approved.
  • Students applying for an approved programme will be added to the VA’s VA-ONCE certification system. We will use this to confirm study details, including attendance.

How much funding will I get?

  • Students receiving educational benefits will receive a letter from the VA confirming what percentage of their tuition fees they will meet (up to 100%). This percentage usually depends on the length of eligible service.
  • Fluctuations in exchange rates can mean that the available VA funding will not meet the actual GBP tuition fee costs and students will be required to pay any outstanding amount themselves.
  • VA-funded students will also receive a stipend towards their living costs - this is paid directly to the student by the VA. Current rates can be found on the VA website.

Cost of attendance (COA)

New undergraduate students: the estimated CoA for the 2018-19 academic year is USD $31,863 (plus tuition fees).

New postgraduate students (including MPhil/PhD): the estimated CoA for the 2018-19 academic year is USD $38,094 (plus tuition fees).

This page will be updated with CoA estimates for the 2019-20 academic year when they are available (expected to be June 2019).

How is the CoA calculated?

  • We use an average weekly cost for rent, food, utility bills, books, printing, transportation, a personal allowance for discretionary costs (such as clothing and social activities), the Immigration Health Surcharge plus amounts for two return flights to the US. The CoA for new students also includes visa costs and computer hardware costs (ie a laptop and printer).
  • The CoA is calculated in GBP and then converted to USD using an exchange rate based on the average high for the previous twelve months.
  • If you believe that your cost of attending will be higher due to reasonable additional costs (because of specialist equipment needed to support a disability, for example) please email us, 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/EEA country (including the UK) may have a lower CoA.