US federal loans
Information on US federal loans, eligibility and how to apply.
All US students wishing to study at UWE Bristol must hold a High School Diploma or equivalent. Please note that this also applies to mature students.
You must meet the criteria set by the US Department of Education in order to be eligible for US federal loans. The eligibility criteria on this page do not apply for private loans.
The federal loan eligibility criteria are subject to change at the US Department of Education's discretion and are beyond the University's control. You should check the latest eligibility criteria on the Federal Student Aid website.
In addition to the criteria specified on the Federal Student Aid website, you must also:
- be enrolled at least at a half-time rate at UWE Bristol for the duration of your course
- be studying an eligible, degree-bearing course
- make satisfactory academic progress during your course (SAP).
There are restrictions on the University's ability to offer federal loan funds to students on certain courses. Students on ineligible courses may be eligible for a Private loan.
The following types of courses are not eligible for federal loans:
- Any non-degree bearing course, eg undergraduate or graduate certificates and diplomas
- Courses which are less than half-time
- Courses involving study in the US (with limited exceptions)
- Courses (or course pathways) involving distance learning and/or online elements (not applicable during COVID-19 emergency)
- Medical training courses
- Summer school courses
- Dual Award courses
- Degree Apprenticeship courses
- Study Abroad elements of courses.
How to apply
To apply for a loan you must follow the application process outlined below. You should only start the process once you have had an offer from UWE Bristol.
Please ensure that you apply in plenty of time as the approval process can take up to four weeks or longer if there are difficulties with your application, and disbursing funds can take several weeks, so you should factor this in when deciding if you are applying for a loan. It is your responsibility to ensure that you submit a complete loan application in good time to meet any deadlines.
You can apply for a loan during the academic year, however, you must have submitted your application in time for us to process this and disburse the funds before the end of your academic year (eg June for undergraduates). There is a US Department of Education deadline for submitting your FAFSA, so you must ensure that this is also met.
You must apply for your US loan each year. Please note that each year's loan is based on the current academic year and we cannot retrospectively approve funds.
Step 1 - Complete your FAFSA
You need to have completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for federal loans. If you are a continuing loan student, you should have completed a renewal FAFSA (you will only be required to indicate any information that has changed since last year.)
Ensure you have used the correct school code for UWE Bristol on your FAFSA. The UWE Bristol school code is: G21948.
If you have not yet been allocated a place at UWE Bristol, please do not complete your FAFSA yet.
Once you have completed your FAFSA, this will produce a Student Aid Report (SAR) and this will be used by the University to determine your loan eligibility.
Step 2 - Complete your PLUS loan request (if applicable)
If you are intending to apply for a PLUS loan (or your parent will be applying for a Parent PLUS loan), you (or your parent) will need to complete a PLUS loan request on Studentaid.gov. This should automatically trigger a Credit Check. Once approved by the system we will be able to view the Credit Check, so you do not need to send us a copy.
Use the school code G21948 on the PLUS loan request. The US Department of Education may also request some applicants complete an online PLUS loan counselling module.
Step 3 - Complete your Master Promissory Note(s) (MPNs)
Complete an MPN for the Subsidised and Unsubsidised loans and, if applicable, your parent should complete a separate MPN for the Parent PLUS loan.
Complete up to two MPNs: one for the Unsubsidised loan and one for the Grad PLUS loan. MPNs are completed on Studentaid.gov. Use the UWE Bristol school code G21948.
As we are a foreign school, new MPNs must be completed for each year of study. Please complete an MPN for each type of loan you are taking.
Once approved by the system we will be able to view MPNs, so you do not need to send us copies.
Step 4 - Complete entrance counselling
You must complete entrance counselling if you are a federal Direct Loan first-time borrower who has not yet completed entrance counselling for a specific loan type (Unsubsidised/Subsidised loans, or PLUS loans). If you have completed entrance counselling in a previous year of study for a specific loan type at any institution, you do not need to complete this step
Complete your entrance counselling on Studentaid.gov.
Step 5 - Complete UWE Bristol's Cost of attendance (CoA) form
We are not automatically notified when a student has selected our institution on their FAFSA. Therefore, once you have completed steps 1-4, please email us at email@example.com with a screenshot of your complete entrance counselling and let us know you are awaiting a Cost of Attendance from UWE Bristol.
From May onwards we will email you a cost of attendance form to inform you of the amount and types of loans that you can borrow.
The CoA is an estimate of your educational related costs for the academic year. The CoA will specify the total amount you may borrow through federal loans minus any other aid you may be receiving for that academic year such as bursaries or scholarships.
Any loans that you take plus any additional financial aid (awards, bursaries, scholarships etc.) must not exceed the yearly 'Cost of Attendance' (US regulations).
If you are in receipt of scholarship or bursary funding, either from the University or another source, you must inform us so that this can be factored into your Cost of Attendance. Failure to do so will result in a recalculation and reduction of your loan later in the academic year when it is discovered you are in receipt of additional sources of funding.
If you are eligible for a subsidised loan, your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will also be deducted from a CoA figure to establish your 'financial need'.
The CoA for students studying at the UWE Bristol is set by the University and is increased in line with inflation for each academic year. These educational costs relate only to you, the student. These costs cannot include costs for partners or children (other than childcare or nursery costs). The exchange rate is listed on the COA. The actual amount that you will receive in GBP(£) will depend upon the exchange rate available to UWE Bristol's bank (or currency exchange service provider) on the date that the loan funds are disbursed.
These broad-based costs can be broken down as follows as a guide as to how much you may need, for example for a year of study as a postgraduate student:
|Cost||£ Per week||$ per week*||Weeks||£ Per year||$ per year *|
|Room including utilities||£159||$222||52||£8,268||$11,575|
|Board including food/internet||£74||$103||52||£3,848||$5,387|
|Tier 4 PBS charges (new students only)||£348||$487|
|Immigration Health Surcharge||£470||$658|
|Flights (two round trips)||£2,000||$2,800|
- *Calculated at a conversion rate of £1 = $1.40
- Please note the cost of attendance is an estimate of your maximum costs. Expenditure from student to student can vary greatly and it may be possible for students on a budget to spend significantly less.
Whilst your CoA can include travel, we cannot issue loan payments before the beginning of the academic year (the first disbursement date will be in October) so you should not rely on your first payment to finance your travel to UWE Bristol.
While your costs may vary depending on where you stay in UWE Bristol, we expect your cost of attendance to be roughly in line with our estimates.
If you believe that your costs are significantly higher, please email firstname.lastname@example.org explaining why you need more funds than indicated in your original cost of attendance and provide proof of these higher costs.
Step 6 - Proof of funding for Loan Certification
If steps 1-5 have been successfully completed, the University will originate your loan on the US systems. We are not able to certify your US loans on the US systems until early July. You will receive a notification letter from us outlining the amount of loans you will receive, your disbursement dates, and the period/academic year your loan relates to. The wording and format of this letter has been agreed with UK Visas and Immigration as acceptable proof of funding for your visa applications.
This loan notification letter will be posted to your US address to ensure that you have the original hard-copy documentation required for your visa application. The UK visa authorities may require you to submit the original documentation – they will not usually accept copies.
Types of loan
Any loans that you take plus any additional financial aid (awards, bursaries, scholarships etc.) must not exceed the yearly 'Cost of Attendance' (US regulations).
Subsidised loans are awarded to students based on financial need - the loan is subsidised because the US Government pays the interest while you are in University. It also pays the interest during any authorised period of deferment of the loan, and for the six-month grace period after you leave university.
Unsubsidised loans are not based on financial need and you are responsible for paying the interest from the time the money is disbursed. The interest may be paid as it comes due, or it may be postponed and allowed to accumulate while you are in university, during any authorised period of deferment, and for the six-month grace period after you leave university.
If you choose to postpone the interest payments, you won't make any payments while you are in University, but this option adds to the amount you will have to repay on your loan when you leave university.
The proportion of subsidised loan that you are eligible for is dependent on your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) which is on your Student Aid Report. We calculate your eligibility by subtracting your EFC from your costs of attendance. You may still borrow up to the full cost of attendance, even if you have a high EFC, using the Unsubsidised and PLUS loans. Please note that although the EFC stands for 'expected family contribution', essentially it is used to determine financial need, rather than reflecting whether or not your family will be contributing to the cost of your studies. The EFC cannot be amended by the University if your family are not contributing to your studies.
|Dependent Undergraduates||Subsidised Direct Loan||Unsubsidised Direct Loan||Annual Loan Limit|
|Year 3 and above||$5,500||$2,000||$7,500|
|Independent Undergraduates||Subsidised Direct Loan||Unsubsidised Direct Loan||Annual Loan Limit|
|Year 3 and above||$5,500||$7,000||$12,500|
|Graduates or Professionals||Subsidised Direct Loan||Unsubsidised Direct Loan||Annual Loan Limit|
|Each Year||$0 - with effect from July 1 2012 no longer eligible for Subsidised Direct||$20,500||$20,500|
Dependent or independent student
A student's dependency status is determined from information provided on the FAFSA. It affects the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and the aid that you may be eligible to receive.
For purposes of Title IV aid, a student is considered independent if he or she meets one or more or the following criteria:
- the student is at least 24 years old by 31 December of the award year
- the student is an orphan or ward/dependent of the court, or was a ward/dependent of the court until he or she reached age 18
- the student is a veteran of the US Armed Forces
- the student is working on a master's or doctorate programme at the beginning of the award year for which the FAFSA is completed
- the student is married as of the date the FAFSA is completed
- the student has at least one child who receives more than half of his or her support from the student
- the student has a dependent, other than a spouse or a child, who lives with the student and receives more than half of his or her support from the student at the time the FAFSA is completed, and through June 30 of the award year
- the student is currently serving on active duty in the US Armed Forces for purposes other than training.
The student is considered dependent if he or she does not meet any of the preceding criteria for an independent student, unless the financial aid administrator determines that the student is independent on the basis of special circumstances and performs a dependency override.
Plus and private loans
Direct (Graduate) Plus
These types of loans are available to graduates, and borrowers should first apply for the Direct Loan before applying for the Direct Plus Loan. The Direct Plus Loan can be the difference between the Direct Loan and the cost of attendance less any other financial aid. You don't have to make any payments while you're enrolled in school at least half-time, and for an additional six months after you complete your studies, withdraw or drop below half-time enrolment.
During any period when you're not required to make payments, interest will accrue on your loan(s). You may choose to pay the accrued interest or allow the interest to be capitalised (added to your loan principal balance) when you have to start making payments. Your loan servicer will notify you when your first payment is due.
Direct (Parent) Plus
Parents of dependent undergraduates can take out a Direct (Parent) Plus Loan under their name to pay the entire cost of attendance less any additional financial aid. If a Direct Loan has been taken, the maximum Direct (Parent) Plus Loan can be the difference between the Direct Loan and the cost of attendance less any other financial aid.
We will require a statement from parents who apply for a Direct (Parent) PLUS Loan without first completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid to confirm that the student and parent will use the Direct (Parent) PLUS Loan funds for educational expenses. If you are a parent borrower, you'll generally be expected to start making payments on your Direct (Parent) PLUS Loan once your loan is fully disbursed (paid out).
However, you may request a deferment while your child is enrolled at least half-time and for an additional six months after your child completes their studies, withdraws, or drops below half-time enrolment. You should have the option of requesting a deferment as part of the loan request process. You can also contact your servicer to request a deferment. During any period when you're not required to make payments, interest will accrue on your loan(s).
You may choose to pay the accrued interest or allow the interest to be capitalised (added to your loan principal balance) when you have to start making payments. Your loan servicer will notify you when your first payment is due.
|Direct Subsidised loan (federal)||Direct Unsubsidised loan (federal)||Parent PLUS loan (federal)||Private loan|
|Who is eligible?||Most US citizens (or eligible non-citizens) on eligible undergraduate courses.* Available to dependent and independent students who demonstrate financial need.||Most US citizens (or eligible non-citizens) on eligible undergraduate courses.* Available to dependent and independent students. Not based on financial need.||Parents (biological, adoptive, or in some cases, stepparent) of dependent undergraduate students on eligible courses. Both the parent and the student must be eligible for federal student aid. A credit check is required.||Most US citizens on courses the lender considers eligible. Good credit history is likely to be necessary. A co-signer may be required.|
|How do repayments work?||No interest or payments required as long as you are enrolled on an eligible course at least half-time.||No payments required as long as you are enrolled on an eligible course at least half-time. Interest accrues whilst you are studying.||No payments required as long as student is enrolled on an eligible course at least half-time. Interest accrues whilst studying.||Variable. You should check the terms and conditions provided to you by your lender. Repayment options tend to be less flexible than federal loans.|
|When do repayments start?||Usually six months (known as the 'grace period') after your course finishes or you become less than half-time.||Usually six months (known as the 'grace period') after your course finishes or you become less than half-time.||Repayment period begins on the date of the final disbursement. Unless you receive a deferment or forbearance, the first payment will be due within 60 days of the final disbursement date.||Variable. Repayment options tend to be less flexible than for federal loans.|
Origination fees, default fees and interest rates are subject to change. For the latest information on interest rates and fees, please see the Federal Student Aid website.
|Loan Type||Interest Rates for Direct Loans First Disbursed on or after July 1 2022 and before July 1 2023|
|Direct Subsidised Loans (Undergraduate)||4.99%|
|Direct Unsubsidised Loans (Undergraduate)||4.99%|
|Direct Unsubsidised Loans (Graduate or Professional)||6.54%|
|Direct PLUS Loans (Parents and Graduate or Professional)||7.54%|
Private loans - Sallie Mae
Students who are unable to take out US federal loans or who do not meet the criteria for a US federal loan can borrow from private lenders in the US. For instance, students on distance learning courses based in the US but enrolled on a UK degree course at UWE Bristol may use a private loan to cover the cost of their tuition fees.
We advise that if you are eligible for US federal loans, you investigate these before applying for a US private student loan, as federal loans are often cheaper and most American students are eligible for them. Please note that US private student loans do not enable you to borrow more funds than US federal loans.
If you wish to apply for a private US student loan, please email email@example.com. We will email you a Cost of Attendance to inform you of the amount of loan you are able to borrow. We will only issue you with a Cost of Attendance if you have received an offer to study at UWE Bristol and priority will be made to those students who have firmly accepted their offer.
The University will work with whichever private lender you decide to use, however, please be aware that Sallie Mae International is the only lender we are currently aware of that is willing to lend to students at a foreign school. Private loan applications with Sallie Mae must not exceed 180 days between the application date and disbursement date. You are advised to compare the terms, charges, and interest rates before taking out a private loan.
UWE Bristol will certify your Sallie Mae loan application once you have registered. We will request the loan be payable in one instalment and this will be received by cheque. We will advise you to come into the Income Office to collect your cheque. UWE Bristol will allocate any Tuition Fees and Accommodation Fees to be paid from the private loan, and pay the student any remaining funds. If you are a distance learning student, providing the amount is less than $10,000, we will post the cheque to you by courier.
It is important that you understand your rights and obligations when borrowing Federal US Loans. Students are advised to fully research and understand responsible borrowing and repayment before requesting Federal Student Loans. The Federal Student Aid webpage has an estimate calculator where you can calculate your estimated loan repayments.
Entrance Counselling and Exit Counselling is a condition of your loan agreement and should be completed before you start your course at UWE Bristol, and as you are coming to the end of your studies at UWE Bristol. It will inform you about repayment and money management, and advise you how to make the necessary arrangements before and during repayment.
Your Student Loan must be repaid. If you do not meet the loan repayments as required by your loan servicer, you will go into default. You are advised to keep in touch with your loan servicer and discuss your options if you are struggling to meet your repayments. You are also advised to update your loan servicer of any changes to your personal details such as address, phone number, and enrolment status.
Useful guides on repaying loans and default:
We begin processing loans for the new academic year in May. Applications for federal loans need to be received a minimum of one calendar month before the next disbursement date in order to ensure the receipt of funds on that date. The loan approval process can take up to four weeks during peak processing periods (June to October) or longer if there are difficulties with your application. Therefore, if you need your application to be processed for a particular deadline, please ensure you apply in plenty of time (we recommend applying at least five weeks before a deadline).
It is your responsibility to ensure that a complete loan application is submitted in a timely manner.
The first disbursement of loans will not be paid until students are registered at UWE Bristol In case of any unforeseen events, please ensure you have personal funds in place to cover your living costs before you receive your first disbursement.
Students must make Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in order to receive the next disbursement.
Following several cases of fraud in the US, the US Department of Education decided to make multiple payments or 'disbursements' common practice for all federal loans. This means that you can only receive loan disbursements in equal amounts at the beginning of each academic term.
There will be two equal instalments for undergraduate students on the following dates:
- Disbursement 1: 15 October
- Disbursement 2: 28 January
There will be three equal instalments for postgraduate students on the following dates:
- Disbursement 1: 15 October
- Disbursement 2: 28 January
- Disbursement 3: 13 May
The actual amount of each disbursement in GBP(£) will be dependent upon the exchange rate used to convert USD($) to GBP(£) on that date. Your loans will also be subject to an origination fee.
The University will deduct your tuition fees for the academic year in equal instalments from each disbursement. If you are in University accommodation, the University will deduct your accommodation fees from each disbursement.
Tuition and accommodation deductions will be made in Pounds Sterling and the remaining loan amount will be credited to your bank account in US Dollars on each of the above disbursement dates. The University cannot know in advance or guarantee the exchange rate used at the point of each disbursement.
In case the issuing of federal loan funds from the US is delayed for any reason please ensure you have sufficient funds to tide you over for a couple of weeks at the beginning of each term.
Paying course fees
Although it is standard practice to invoice students for all fees at the beginning of the academic year, special dispensation will be made for students who are funding their studies using a US federal loan. Your college will arrange for your fees to be paid in instalments that correlate with your US loan disbursements.
Once your loan has been approved, we will contact your Faculty to inform them of your loan amounts and disbursement dates.
Visas and proof of funding
Once your federal loans have been processed, UWE Bristol will send you an award letter which will detail your loan amounts and disbursement dates. The wording and format of the letter has been agreed with UK Visas and Immigration as acceptable proof of funding. The original award letter (with signature) must be available when you apply for a student visa, but not everyone will have to submit the letter with their application.
Please visit GOV.UK to confirm whether you are required to submit your award letter with your student visa application. The University website also gives detailed information about the Tier 4 (General) student visa process.
1098T tax forms
We cannot complete a 1098T tax form for you because UWE Bristol is not a US taxpayer. However, we can issue a similar certificate which has been accepted by the IRS since 2005. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request one.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
To be eligible for US federal student loans, a student must make satisfactory academic progress (SAP).
This policy applies to all students taking federal student loans (also known as 'Direct Loans', 'Title IV' loans and 'federal aid') such as Subsidised loans, Unsubsidised loans, Graduate PLUS loans and Parent PLUS loans. It applies to undergraduate, postgraduate, full-time and part-time students.
Students are advised to familiarise themselves with these SAP guidelines in order to successfully complete their academic programme and continue to receive federal student loans.
How SAP is measured
SAP will be measured by ensuring students have met the following qualitative and quantitative standards as outlined by US Federal Law.
- Maximum Completion Time Frames: Eligible undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research students are entitled to receive financial aid for up to 150% of the published programme length. For example:
- Full-time undergraduate: the maximum timeframe for an undergraduate degree totalling 360 credits is completion of at least 80 credits per academic year, where 120 credits have been attempted within an academic year. Students may attempt up to 540 credits, to achieve the 360 credits needed to complete the undergraduate degree.
- Full-time postgraduate: the maximum timeframe for a taught master's course totalling 180 credits is completion of at least 120 credits per academic year, where 180 credits have been attempted within an academic year. Students may attempt up to 270 credits, to achieve the 180 credits needed to complete the postgraduate taught course.
- Pace of progression: Students must maintain a minimum cumulative completion rate of two-thirds of credits attempted which equals 67%, for progression to the following year of study in order to meet the SAP maximum completion timeframes. For example:
- Undergraduate: where full-time students pursuing a three year bachelor's degree would typically attempt 120 credits over one academic year, students must complete a minimum of 80 out of 120 credits per year to meet SAP standards, and carry forward no more than 60 credits into the next academic year as trailing units.
- Postgraduate taught: where full-time students pursuing a one year master's degree would typically attempt 180 credits over one academic year, students must complete a minimum of 120 out of 180 credits per year to meet SAP standards, and carry forward no more than 40 credits into the next academic year as trailing units.
Tier 4 visa students should be aware that visa policies may not align with SAP and/or University policies.
- Enrolment status: all students must be enrolled at least half-time.
- Academic achievement: In order to remain in good SAP standing, the following academic pass marks need to be met:
- Undergraduate: students must achieve at least an overall pass mark of 40% or above, or 50% pass mark if studying Veterinary Science.
- Postgraduate taught: students must achieve at least an overall pass mark of 50% for level 7 units, or 40% for level 6 units.
- Postgraduate research: students must achieve satisfactory progress as outlined in their Annual Progress Review.
- If a student is on a course longer than two years, the student must have passed to at least Grade C at the end of year 2.
Failing to make SAP
If you fail to make satisfactory academic progress (SAP), you will be placed on financial aid probation for six months. If you have been placed on probation and subsequently meet the requirements in the next term, you will be placed back into good financial aid standing.
Students who have been placed on probation and do not meet the requirements applicable to their degree and level will be suspended and ineligible to receive aid until such time as they achieve the required standard.
Students who transfer to a new course will also transfer with any SAP warning or sanction and will still need to meet the specified criteria for their new course before re-establishing eligibility to receive financial aid.
Changing the status of your studies
It is essential that you email email@example.com if you change the status of your studies as follows:
- transfer course
- change from full-time to half-time or less than half-time.
Under US Federal law, the University is required to report any changes to your enrolment within tight timescales. For students who withdraw from their studies, suspend for more than 180 days, or complete their studies earlier than expected, it may be necessary, to complete a Return to Title IV (R2T4) calculation, and arrange for the return any 'unearned' funds to the US Department of Education.
If you are thinking of changing the status of your studies and want to know what your US Federal Loan entitlement will be, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Increasing your loan
If you wish to increase your federal US Loans during the academic year and you have not previously requested up to the maximum in your Cost of Attendance (CoA), please email email@example.com. You cannot borrow more than the maximum CoA figure.
Decreasing your loan
If you wish to decrease your federal US loans please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The reduction will be spread across any remaining funds.
Cancelling your loan
If you wish to cancel your loan, please email email@example.com at least two weeks before the upcoming disbursement date. There is a short period after receipt of your disbursement where you can ask the University to return federal loan funds to the US, but you will be responsible for all bank charges and fees if the payment has already been made.
If you wish to cancel your federal loan and the timeframe for doing so through the University has passed, you can still make a payment direct to your lender. You are advised to contact your lender for up to date details on cancelling your loan - your lender details can be found on NSLDS.
If you cancel your federal loan after receiving a disbursement you are required to complete Exit Counselling.
Deferring a previous loan
If you have any previous loans which need repayment deferment you will need to advise your lender that you are 'in-school' and request that they send you a deferment form. Please complete your details on the form and either send it or drop it in at Information Point in order that it can be certified.
We are not able to sign any deferment forms until after you have started your course. Please provide us with a fax number if you would like it faxed to your lender, or an address in order that we can forward it on your behalf.