US loans: further information

Students are advised to read through the following information before starting the application process for US Loans, in order to fully understand eligibility criteria, types of loans available, interest rates and fee charges, and responsible borrowing and repayment.

Eligibility

Your eligibility for US federal title IV loans will be assessed with reference to the information you provide on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Enrolment status

You must be enrolled and continue to be enrolled at least half-time at the University of Bristol to remain eligible for federal loans. If you suspend, withdraw or drop below half-time enrolment then you must email us-loans@bristol.ac.uk immediately. 

Courses ineligible for federal direct loans at the University of Bristol

The University of Bristol has been approved to certify federal student loans for degree programs. The University has not been approved to certify federal loans for students wishing to study:

If any part of your program includes a study year abroad, email us-loans@bristol.ac.uk before starting your program. The year abroad must meet certain eligibility criteria, otherwise the whole program is ineligible for federal student loans.

Students wishing to study one of the above programs may be eligible for private loans.

Satisfactory academic progress (SAP)

To remain eligible for US federal student loans throughout your studies, a student must make satisfactory academic progress (SAP). The University's SAP policy applies to all undergraduate and postgraduate students taking US Federal Student Loans to study at the University of Bristol.

Full details of the SAP process and the procedures to be followed if a student fails to meet SAP requirements are outlined on our Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) webpage.

How to apply

Step 1 – Complete your FAFSA

If you meet the eligibility criteria, and you wish to apply for US Federal Loans to study at the University of Bristol, you should complete a FAFSA application.  You will need to create a FSA ID and password to complete your FAFSA.

If you are a continuing loan student, complete a renewal FAFSA (you will only be required to indicate any information that has changed since last year).

You can complete your FAFSA from the October before the academic year you wish to study in. For example, if you wish to start your studies in September 2021, you can complete your FAFSA from October 2020.  It is your responsibility to ensure that you submit a complete loan application in good time to meet the University of Bristol’s tuition fee (and accommodation fee if relevant) payment deadlines.

You will need to include the University of Bristol’s School Federal Direct Loan Code G07632 on your FAFSA.

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 Entrance Counselling

You must complete Entrance Counselling if you have not previously completed Entrance Counselling for the type of loan you wish to borrow. If you have previously completed Entrance Counselling for the type of federal student loan you wish to borrow whilst at Bristol, you may by-pass this step. You are also advised to completed Financial Awareness Counseling when deciding how much Federal Loans to borrow

Use the University school code G07632.

Step 3 – Complete your Master Promissory Note(s) (MPNs)

Undergraduates: Complete an MPN for the Subsidised and Unsubsidised loans, and, if applicable, your parent should complete a separate MPN for the Parent PLUS loan.

Graduates: Complete one MPN for the Unsubsidised loan and one for the Grad PLUS loan.

Use the University school code G07632.

As we are a foreign school, new MPNs must be completed for each year of study.

Once approved by the system we will be able to view MPNs, so you do not need to send us copies.

Step 4 – Apply for the PLUS Loan (if applicable) to create a Credit Check

If you are intending to apply for a Graduate PLUS loan, or your parent will be applying for a Parent PLUS loan, you, or the parent, will need to complete the “Apply for a PLUS Loan” section.  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 University school code G07632 on your PLUS loan request.

Step 5 – Email us at US-Loans@bristol.ac.uk

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 us-loans@bristol.ac.uk to let us know you are awaiting a Cost of Attendance from Bristol.

Step 6 – Wait to Receive your Cost of Attendance

From May onwards, the Student Funding Office at the University of Bristol will email you a Cost of Attendance to inform you of the amount of loan you can borrow and the types of loans you can borrow. We will also email you a Financial Aid Offer Request form and a Bank Details form.

Step 7 – Return Forms to Student Funding Office

Once you have received your Cost of Attendance, please confirm the types and amounts of loans you would like to borrow by completing the Financial Aid Offer Request and returning it to us-loans@bristol.ac.uk. You will also need to return your typed Bank Details form via email to us-loans@bristol.ac.uk.

Step 8 – Loan Certification

If steps 1-7 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 visa applications.

This loan notification letter will be posted to your US address by international signed-for delivery 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.

For information on visa support and advice, contact the Student Visa Services.

Cost of Attendance (CoA)

A Cost of Attendance (CoA) will be emailed to you once you have completed Steps 1–5 in the University of Bristol Loan Application Process. 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. If you are eligible for a subsidized 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 University of Bristol is set by the Student Funding Office 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). These broad based costs can be broken down as follows as a guide as to how much you may need for your year of study:

Please note, whilst your CoA can include Travel, we cannot issue loan payments before the beginning of the academic year so you should not rely on your first payment to finance your travel to Bristol.

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.

While your costs may vary depending on where you stay in Bristol, we expect your cost of attendance to be roughly in line with our estimates. 

Loan types, amounts and repayments

There are different loans available depending on whether you are an undergraduate or postgraduate student. There are also different types of loans available to undergraduate students depending on your dependency.

Subisidized Loans

Subsidized loans are only available to undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need, as determined by federal regulations. No interest is charged whilst you are studying at least half-time, during the grace period (the first 6 months after you finish University) and during deferment periods (a postponement of loan payments).

Unsubsidized Loans

Unsubsidized loans are available to undergraduate and postgraduate students. They are not based on financial need. Interest is charged during all periods.

Parent PLUS Loans

Parent PLUS loans are available for parents of undergraduate students who are classed as dependent. Parents can borrow up to the total estimated Cost of Attendance as issued by the University of Bristol. Parent PLUS loans are the responsibility of the parent and not the student.

Graduate PLUS Loans

Grad PLUS Loans are available for postgraduate students. A graduate may borrow up to the total estimated Cost of Attendance as issued by the University of Bristol.

Private Loans

Private Loans are not federal loans but are available to most US citizens.

Students studying in the UK are not eligible for Perkins Loans or Pell Grants.

Fees and interest rates

Origination fees

Most federal student loans have loan fees that are a percentage of the total loan amount. The loan fee is deducted proportionately from each loan disbursement you receive while enrolled in school. This means the money you receive will be less than the amount you actually borrow. You're responsible for repaying the entire amount you borrowed and not just the amount you received. Origination fees change each year.

Interest rates

Disbursements / receiving your loan

Federal loan disbursements

The first disbursement of Loans will not be paid until students are registered at the University of Bristol. In case of any unforeseen events, make sure that you have personal funds in place to cover your living costs for the first four weeks of the academic year.

There will be two equal instalments for undergraduate students

  • Disbursement 1: mid-October 
  • Disbursement 2: end of January

There will be three equal instalments for postgraduate taught students

  • Disbursement 1: mid-October 
  • Disbursement 2: end of January
  • Disbursement 3: early June

There will be two equal instalments for postgraduate research students on the following dates:

  • Disbursement 1: mid-October
  • Disbursement 2: mid-March

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.

US Federal Loan students will NOT need to pay their tuition and accommodation fees on the set University fee payment dates. The University will set your tuition and accommodation fee (if your accommodation is payable to the University of Bristol) payment dates in line with your US Federal Loan dates. Your tuition and accommodation fees will be deducted in equal instalments from each disbursement (in line with US Loan regulations).

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.

Students must make Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in order to receive the next disbursement.

Deadline dates

For your federal loan to be disbursed on the first disbursement date above we will need to receive your complete application by 31 August before the academic year you start your studies. We cannot guarantee that applications submitted after this deadline will be approved in time for the first disbursement if there are any outstanding matters related to your federal loan application.

Any application received after the 31st August will be processed and we will contact you to let you know the date of your first disbursement.

Any applications made throughout the year must be received a minimum of one calendar month before the next disbursement date in order to be processed in time for that disbursement.

For details of private loan disbursement dates, see our private loans webpage.

Loan requirements during your studies

NSLDS reporting

The University of Bristol is required, in accordance with Federal Regulations, to report your enrolment status to the US Department of Education via the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) every 60 days. Reporting students as studying full-time or half-time at Bristol will defer any previous Federal US Loans taken out before you started your studies at Bristol.

If you are not taking out Federal US Loans during your study at Bristol, but you wish to defer your previous US Loans as you are now studying, email us-loans@bris.ac.uk.

NSLDS have the following reporting statuses that must be recorded. These statuses are for NSLDS reporting purposes only and are separate to University enrolment statues regulations :

  • Full time students will be reported as 'full time' (F)
  • Part time students (studying between 100% and 50% part time) will be reported as half time (H)
  • Students studying part time less than 50% (less than half time attendance) or by distance learning, will be reported as 'less than half time(L)
  • Students who have suspended their studies or withdrawn from their studies will be reported as withdrawn(W).  When a student returns from suspension they will be reported as full time(F) or half time (H) whichever is applicable
  • Postgraduate Research students who have an approved authorised leave of absence for less than 180 days will be reported as approved leave of absence(A). An approved leave of absence for more than 180 days will be reported as withdrawn (W)
  • Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught students who have completed their studies will be reported as 'less than half time' (L). When a student's graduation is confirmed on the University database, they will be reported as 'graduated' (G)
  • Postgraduate Research students who have submitted their thesis will be reported as 'less than half time' (L). When a student's graduation is confirmed on the University database, they will be reported as 'graduated' (G). If the student is required to make corrections, they will be reported as 'full time' (F) or 'half time' (H), whichever is relevant to the student

Se the NSLDS reporting policy (Office document, 32kB) for how a reported status affects your loan repayments and grace periods.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

To remain eligible for Federal US Loans during the academic year, students must meet satisfactory academic progress (SAP), and this will be measured prior to each disbursement.

Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught students are advised to familiarise themselves with the SAP Policy for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught Students (PDF, 197kB)

SAP Policy for Postgraduate Research Students (PDF, 195kB).

The Supervisor or course leader will be emailed prior to each disbursement and asked to complete a form to confirm whether the student is or is not meeting SAP. Students will be copied in on the email to their Supervisor regarding SAP.

Exit counselling

Students coming to the end of their studies are required to complete exit Counselling for each type of Federal US Loan borrowed. This is a condition of your loan terms.

  • The Student Funding Office will email you to remind you to complete Exit Counselling and ask you to email us-loans@bristol.ac.uk once you have completed Exit Counselling.
  • You are required to complete Exit Counselling if you drop to less than half-time, withdraw from your studies or complete your studies.
  • You can complete Exit Counselling on the StudentLoans.gov website.

You will also be required to complete a form updating us on your contact details when you leave the University. We will also require contact details for the referees listed on your MPN's. The Student Funding Office will email you this form as you are nearing the end of your studies. 

·        Postgraduate Research students who have submitted their thesis will be reported as 'less than half time' (L).  When a student's graduation is confirmed on the University database, they will be reported as 'graduated' (G).  If the student is required to make corrections, they will be reported as 'full time' (F) or 'half time' (H), whichever is relevant to the student.

Satisfactory academic progress

Policy

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:

Questions

If you have any questions regarding this SAP Policy, contact the Student Funding Office by emailing us-loans@bristol.ac.uk.

Every effort has been made to ensure that this policy is as accurate as possible and meets the US Department of Education guidelines at the time of writing. However, this policy may change in line with changes made by the US Department of Education at any time, and will be updated accordingly as soon as possible.

Suspending, withdrawing, transferring course or changing the status of your studies

It is essential that you email us-loans@bristol.ac.uk if you change the status of your studies as follows:

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 their studies, take a leave of absence from their studies (PGR students only) 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 of 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, email us-loans@bristol.ac.uk.

R2T4 Calculation

The Student Funding Office will complete a Return to Title IV (R2T4) calculation to calculate the amount of Title IV program assistance that has been earned, using a formula provided by the US Department of Education.

If it is calculated that you have completed more than 60% of your payment period, all the assistance you were due to receive for the payment period is considered to have been earned and no funds need to be returned.

If it is calculated that you have completed less than 60% of your payment period the University may need to return funds to the US Department of Education. Any funds you have already received after your tuition fees were deducted are not to be repaid immediately, but will be repaid as outlined in your MPN.

If a student has not received a disbursement of Federal aid funds at the beginning of a disbursement period and subsequently withdraws, the amount of funds that a student has earned will be calculated and the appropriate amount will be disbursed.

The requirements for Title IV program funds when you withdraw are separate from the University's refund policy for current students. Therefore, you may still owe funds to the University to cover unpaid institutional charges. The University may also attempt to collect any Title IV program funds from you that the University is required to return.

Withdrawal dates for students that officially withdraw will be determined by the completion of a withdrawal form and an agreement between the School and the student of a last date of attendance. Withdrawal dates for students who unofficially withdraw will be the date that Schools become aware that a student ceased attendance.

Unearned Federal aid funds will be returned no later than 45 days after determining the withdrawal date.

If it is determined that refund money must be returned to the aid programme, the distribution of funds will be allocated in the following order:

  • Federal Stafford Unsubsidised
  • Federal Stafford Subsidised
  • Federal PLUS

The Student Funding Office will inform withdrawn students by email of the amount that the University is obliged to return to the US Federal aid programme, the amount (if any) that needs to be paid to the University by the student, and the amount (if any) that is due to be refunded to the student by the University.

Amending, decreasing or cancelling a 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), email us-loans@bristol.ac.uk. You cannot borrow more than the maximum CoA figure.

If you wish to decrease your Federal US Loans please email us-loans@bristol.ac.uk. The reduction will be spread across any remaining funds.

If you wish to cancel your loan, email us-loans@bristol.ac.uk at least two weeks before the upcoming disbursement date. 

If you wish to cancel your Federal Loan, you can 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.

Repayment

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 Bristol, and as you are coming to the end of your studies at 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, enrolment status.

Useful guides on repaying loans and default:

Consumer information

The US government requires institutions which offer federal student loans to disclose the following consumer information. If you require any further information about the content, email us-loans@bristol.ac.uk.

US Federal Aid information

This webpage provides students with information on all US Student Federal Aid including:

University information

University policies

Intercollegiate athletic programme participation rates and financial support data

The University does not have an 'intercollegiate athletic programme' similar to US schools. However, sports information can be found on the University's Sport pages or from your college.

Private loans

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 wishing to study a course which is not approved for federal US loans (PGCE and Medicine), or students on distance learning courses based in the US but enrolled on a UK degree course at Bristol.

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. 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, email us-loans@bristol.ac.uk. From May onwards, the Student Funding Office will email you a Cost of Attendance to inform you of the amount of loan you are able to borrow.

The University will work with whichever private lender you decide to use, however be aware that Sallie Mae is the only lender we currently work with. No more than 365 days can pass from the loan period end date to the first disbursement of the loan through Sallie Mae.

You are advised to compare the terms, charges, and interest rates before taking out a private loan.

The Student Funding Office will certify your Sallie Mae loan application once you have registered at Bristol. We will request the loan be payable in one instalment and this will be received by cheque. If you are in Bristol, we will advise you to come into the Student Funding Office to collect your cheque and take it the University Cash Office to be cashed. The University 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 distance learning student, providing the amount is less than $10,000, we will post the cheque to you by courier.

Veterans Affairs benefit

The University of Bristol is able to process applications for US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) funding. Eligible students wishing to study at the University of Bristol should first visit the US Department of Veterans Affairs webpage and apply for benefits.

Students are then advised to email us-loans@bristol.ac.uk to ensure that the course they wish to study is approved for VA benefits. Allow as much time as possible to check that your course is approved, as approval of a course can take a few weeks to be processed.

Distance or online learning are not eligible for VA funding at foreign schools outside of the US.

Once you have registered at Bristol for the academic year and your course has been approved, we will:

  • complete and submit your enrolment information on VA Form 22-1999.
  • The VA will process your benefit and will pay your funding into the University’s bank account in US$.
  • Your funding will be converted into GB£ and transferred to your tuition and accommodation fees (if applicable) before paying you any remaining funds. If you are also taking out Federal US Loans which are paid direct to your fees, your Veteran funding can be paid direct to you.
  • It is usual that your Veteran funding is paid termly (i.e. Autumn term, Spring term, Summer term).
  • Note that if you are receiving Chapter 35 benefits, these are not paid to the University.

We are obliged to inform the VA when your enrolment status changes at any stage such as:

  • Graduation
  • Change from full-time to part-time
  • Suspension
  • Withdrawal

Note that receipt of VA will not effect your Federal US Loan entitlement.

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