Loans for American students

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

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 3 times a year, corresponding with the 3 terms of the academic year.

US Federal Direct Loans

  • There are two different types of Federal Direct Loans: subsidised and unsubsidised.
  • If you request Federal Student Aid, you must complete Direct Loan Entrance Counseling before any loans can be originated. This Counseling advises you on the different types of loans available, repayment methods and schedules, and also make you aware of the legal requirements of participating in the loan programme. We recommend that you do this at the same time as completing the Master Promissory Note (MPN) for your loans.
  • How to apply: complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form
  • Exit counselling: It is a regulatory requirement that any US student who has received Federal Student Aid should complete the Direct Loan Exit Counseling towards the end of their studies. We will usually email you towards the end of your studies at Birkbeck to remind you to complete this counselling.

US Direct PLUS Loans

  • PLUS loans can be used to help with study costs that are not covered by Subsidised and Unsubsidised Loans. Only graduate/postgraduate students, or the parents of dependent undergraduate students, can apply for PLUS loans; undergraduate students cannot apply for PLUS loans themselves. Find out more about US Direct PLUS loans.
  • How to apply: you will need to complete an online application form (note: graduate students / dependent children 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 upon the loan provider and their assessment of your credit history but all providers will normally 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 is usually listed as 'Birkbeck – University of London' 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)

  • The estimated CoA for 2016/17 academic year is:
    • USD$38,573 (not including tuition fees) for undergraduate students
    • USD$46,495 USD (not including tuition fees) for postgraduate students
  • How is the CoA calculated? We calculate a weekly cost for rent, board (i.e. 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 2 flights back to the US, visa costs, computer hardware costs (i.e. 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) please send an email to and provide us with as much information about these additional costs as possible.

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 $3500.00 USD. 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 upon the circumstances and credit history of the person applying for the PLUS Loan (i.e. 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 Subsidized and Unsubsidized 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 money later in the academic year if you need it, up to the maximum cost of attendance. Please contact before 31 May (during your year of study) if you need to increase your borrowing or request an additional loan.

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 that July through September are the busiest months with regards to processing US student loans. We therefore 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 email with the following information:
    • Your Birkbeck ID number (this is usually 8 digits long, e.g. 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 (e.g. 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 Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans and one for Direct PLUS Loans).
  • For VA educational benefits, you should email 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 email with the following information:
    • the name and details of your loan provider
    • your Birkbeck ID number (this is usually 8 digits long - e.g. 13123456)
    • 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 May each year (so if you are starting in September 2016 we will start processing the application in May 2016) and will contact you to confirm what funding you should be eligible for.
    • If you made your FAFSA application before May you can expect to be contacted by 7 May.
    • If you apply through a FAFSA after 1 May we will usually contact you within 7 days.
  • Providing that you have given us all of 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 7 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 contact us directly 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 should be transferred directly from the US Treasury to overseas institutions for Direct Loan (Subsidized, Unsubsidized 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 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 therefore 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 Fees 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 to 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 Enquiries counter at the Registry 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 has nothing to do with how much money you have left. The portion of the academic year that is left is the 'unearned' portion of your loan. That is, the academic year is 30 weeks, so if you withdraw or break in week 10, then 20 weeks' worth of your loan- two-thirds- is unspent and must be returned to your lender immediately. The ‘earned’ part has to be repaid according to your repayment terms.

7. Consumer disclosures for students receiving Federal Student Aid