Frequently asked questions

Applying for a US federal loan

How do I apply for a loan?

Here is a brief step by step outline of the process of applying for your loan:

  • Step 1 – Complete your FAFSA
  • Step 2 – Complete your PLUS loan request (if applicable)
  • Step 3 – Complete your Master Promissory Note(s) (MPNs)
  • Step 4 – Complete entrance counselling
  • Step 5 – Forward your MPN and Entrance Counselling to UWE Bristol
  • Step 6 – Complete UWE Bristol's Cost of attendance (CoA) form
  • Step 7 - Proof of funding for visa purposes.

Please see the How to apply for federal loans page for more detail. You may also want to take a look at the information on private loans for private loan applications.

When should I apply for my loan and how long will it take to process?

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. Please see the Payment of loans for more information.

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.

It is also possible to apply for or adjust your loans during the year. Please see Amending, decreasing or cancelling a loan.

I have completed my Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) but I haven't heard anything – what should I do?

As a foreign school, we are not automatically contacted when a student completes their FAFSA and there are several other steps to completing a federal loan application at UWE Bristol. You must complete all of the steps on our How to apply for federal loans page in order to notify us that you are applying for a loan.

I have not been offered a place at UWE Bristol yet - can I apply for my loan now?

You are unable to submit your loan application until you have been allocated a place at UWE Bristol, as your application documents and loan records must be linked to your University. We will process your application as soon as possible once you have your UWE Bristol place and submitted your loan application too.

Can I apply for a loan mid-year?

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.

Please be aware that the loan approval process can take up to four weeks during peak processing periods or longer if your application is incomplete or complicated, and disbursing funds can take a number of weeks, so you should factor this in when deciding if you are applying for a loan for the current academic year.

I received a US student loan last year. Do I need to re-apply or will I automatically receive loans for each year of my course?

You must apply for your US loan each year. Please follow the instructions on our How to apply for federal loans page (or Private loans information for private loans). You do not need to take a loan for every year of your course if this is not required (for example you may apply for a loan in year 1 and year 3 but not year 2 of your course), however please note that each year's loan is based on the current academic year and we cannot retrospectively approve funds.

I am returning from a period of suspension - how and when should I apply for a US loan?

If you would like to take loans when you return to study, you must submit an application for the year in which you are going to be enrolled. Follow the instructions on our How to apply for Federal Loans page and complete all the required steps in plenty of time before you return to your course. For example if you are due to return in January, it would be advisable to submit your application in November. However, please note that we will not be able to disburse any funds until you are re-enrolled.

What is 'Cost of Attendance' (COA)?

Your COA refers to the costs of completing your study for one academic year. This, minus any other financial aid you may be receiving (such as scholarships), is used to calculate the level of funds that you are eligible to borrow. These costs must relate only to you, the student, and can include: course fees; living costs; transport expenses; child care costs; fieldwork costs; and loan origination fees. The COA cannot include costs for partners or children (other than child care/nursery costs). Your COA can include return flights to and from the US (for you only).

What exchange rate is used when calculating my Cost of attendance (COA)?

We are required to set a static exchange rate at the start of the loan application cycle and this must stay the same throughout the whole academic year. 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.

What should I do if I'm awarded a scholarship after my loan has been approved?

You must email us.loans@uwe.ac.uk if you are awarded a scholarship, grant or other financial award, as this must be factored into your Cost of Attendance (COA).

What is EFC?

EFC stands for 'expected family contribution' and is shown on your Student Aid Report (SAR) which is generated once you complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). We add an undergraduates EFC to their Cost of attendance form. The EFC is used to determine 'need' and therefore it limits the amount that you can borrow as a Direct Subsidised loan; it is not required for graduate loan applications as this loan type is not available to graduates. 

You may still borrow up to the full cost of attendance, even if you have a high EFC, using the Unsubsidised and PLUS loans (see our Loan types page for further information).  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.

What is an origination fee?

This is the fee charged by the US Department of Education to cover initial administrative charges related to federal loans. For information on origination fee amounts please refer to Repayments page.

How do I obtain proof of funding for visa purposes?

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.

Receiving your loan

When will I receive my loan disbursements?

You will normally receive your federal loan disbursement in equal amounts at the beginning of each term. Typically these are October, January and April (postgraduate students receive their loans over the first two disbursements. Please see our Payment of loans page for more information.  For information on receipt of private loans, please see the Private loans page.

Why can't I receive my entire federal loan amount at the beginning of my studies?

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. Please see our Payment of loans page for more information.

How can I pay my course fees on arrival if I will receive my federal loan in several payments?

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. Please see our payment of loans page for more details.

Once your loan has been approved, we will contact your Faculty to inform them of your loan amounts and disbursement dates.

Eligibility

I have transferred to a different course. Am I still eligible to receive my loan?

You should email us.loans@uwe.ac.uk immediately if you change course, as this may change your eligibility for a loan or the amounts you are able to borrow.

How is my academic performance assessed once I have obtained the funding?

UWE Bristol is required by US federal law to define and enforce standards of satisfactory academic progress (SAP) on students who wish to access US federal funds. The guidelines have been established to encourage students to progress and complete the course successfully for which aid is received. More information on SAP can be found on our of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) page.

What happens if I fail to make satisfactory academic progress?

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.

What happens if I withdraw from UWE Bristol or become ineligible for federal student aid, but have already received US Federal loans?

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

When a US loans student changes enrolment status, we must undertake processes in line with strict US Department of Education regulations; these differ from and are separate to the University's internal change of enrolment and repayment processes, so you must contact us.loan@uwe.ac.uk immediately.

How do I contact the US loans team at UWE Bristol?

If you haven't found the information you are looking for, please email us.loan@uwe.ac.uk.

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