Frequently asked questions about US student loans

These FAQs have been compiled to help you with the process but if you still have unanswered questions please get in touch with us - email

The application

How do I apply for a loan?

Please see the How to apply page.

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 receive funds on that date.

Please see the Receiving your loan page for more information.

We can normally process your loan in around two weeks; however, during our peak application season (June–October) the process can take longer. 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 the how to apply and amend or cancel a loan pages.

I received a US student loan at Ravensbourne 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 page.

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

There are several other steps to completing a loan application at Ravensbourne, other than the FAFSA.

You must complete all of the steps on our how to apply page in order to notify us that you are applying for a loan.

What is 'Cost of Attendance' (COA)?

Your COA refers to the costs of completing your study at Ravensbourne for one academic year. This, minus any other financial aid you may be receiving (such as scholarships), is used to calculate the level of US loan funds that you are eligible to borrow.

These costs must relate only to you, the student, and can include: course and college 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?

For the 2016–17 academic year, Ravensbourne will use the exchange rate of $1.40 = £1 to calculate the cost of attendance. However, the actual amount that you will receive in GBP(£) will depend upon the exchange rate available to the university's bank (or currency exchange service provider) on the date that the loan funds are disbursed.

Am I an independent or dependent undergraduate student?

Please see our loan types page.

How do I increase / decrease / cancel my loan, mid-year?

Please see our amend or cancel a loan page.

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 ask undergraduates to add the EFC to their cost of attendance worksheet.

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 postgraduate loan applications as this loan type is not available to postgraduates. 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 the loan amounts page.

What is entrance counselling and exit counselling?

Entrance and exit counselling are short online courses which will help you understand the responsibilities and obligations associated with a federal loan.

It is a US Department of Education requirement that you undertake entrance and exit counselling (accessed at at the start and end of your studies.

What is PLUS counselling?

PLUS counselling is a short online course which will help you understand the responsibilities and obligations associated with a Federal loan.

You are only required to undertake PLUS counselling (accessed at if you are informed by the US Department of Education that you have an adverse credit history and have obtained an approved endorser or documented to the satisfaction of the US Department of Education that there are extenuating circumstances related to your adverse credit history.

For more information, please visit the federal student aid website.

What is a Guarantor?

This is an organisation approved by the US Department of Education to guarantee Direct Loans; generally a state-operated organisation or non-profit agency. They are required to maintain a reserve to cover defaulted loans, and to conduct default prevention activity.

Guarantors also serve as the security or collateral on these loans, so students are not required to obtain co-borrowers. You can check your guarantor details at

How do I obtain proof of funding for visa purposes?

Once your federal loans have been processed, the US loans team at Ravensbourne 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 Ravensbourne website also gives detailed information about the tier 4 (general) student visa application guidance 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. The terms at Ravensbourne are Winter (October–December), Spring (January–March) and Summer (April–June). Please see ourreceiving your loan page for more information.

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 receiving your loan page for more information.


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

Ravensbourne 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 eligibility 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 a course at Ravensbourne or become ineligible for federal student aid, but have already received a US federal loan?

Please see our suspend or withdraw page.


How can I defer repayment on previous US student loans?

Please see our defer a previous loan page.

What are my repayment options?

Please see our repayment page.


How do I contact the US loans team at Ravensbourne?

If you haven't found the information you are looking for, please email