Applying for Direct Loans

There are no short cuts to loan origination. The steps you will need to take are quick and easy but Plymouth University will not know if you have completed all the processes for all the loans you intend to borrow unless you tell us, and the University will not know how much you wish to borrow until you tell us.

We want to be sure that you have completed everything you have to do before we start to process your application because if the School starts origination of loans and your application is incomplete or information is missing then your loan origination will fail and this will delay your access to federal financial assistance.

Take the time to read our guidance carefully before you start and please download and refer to the following flowchart (Word document).

There are some stages where we need a screenshot as evidence and if you forget to obtain this at the correct stage then you may have to start over again.

To speed the process we will accept evidence in the form of email attachments but we need all the evidence from you at the same time - all required documents must come in the same email; if anything is omitted then we cannot start the loan origination process and this will delay your access to federal financial assistance.

When you have finished and collected all the evidence required then please send this to Plymouth University’s Student Funding Unit at studentfunding@plymouth.ac.uk.

For priority treatment your email subject line should be in the format: US Loan for Award Year YYYY-YY (surname, forename)

For example: US Loan for Award Year 2016-17 (Smith, John).

Step one: complete FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an organised method of gathering information about you and your family’s financial situation. This information is then analysed according to US federal guidelines together with University guidelines. This ensures that all applications are treated fairly and equitably.

The results of this need analysis indicate the difference between what can be expected from the family and the cost of education. It shows the ability, not the willingness, of the student and/or their family to pay for their education. This is used to determine whether the student has a financial need.

To be considered for financial aid, you must complete a FAFSA online at the FAFSA website. You will need to make sure that your web browser is compatible.

Applying online is the best method because your results are processed quicker and there are checks to ensure your information is submitted correctly. If you wish to apply via paper, you will need to contact FAFSA directly.

After you initially submit a FAFSA, each year thereafter undergraduates who completed a paper FAFSA will receive a renewal FAFSA and graduate students or students who completed the FAFSA on the web will receive a Personal Identification Number (PIN) mailer. For those who have applied for Financial Aid previously, the renewal FAFSA has most of your information preprinted, and typically only your income information needs to be updated (and your parents', if you are a dependent student).

Students are reminded to obtain the necessary PIN (parent(s) and students must each have a PIN) to validate the signature before electronically sending the application to be processed. PINs can be obtained from the Federal Student Aid PIN website

One of the final steps in completing the FAFSA is supplying Plymouth University's US Department of Education Federal University / School code. 

Federal School Code: G23521

OPE-ID: 02352100

After completing the FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). This document lists the information you and your family have provided and tells you what your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is for the year you are applying.

Step two: complete Cost of Attendance (CoA) 

You should now download and complete a Cost of Attendance calculator for the correct award year. 

You will need to use Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice, or other suitable software to open this file and enter information. The Cost of Attendance Calculator will provide you with a guide to your loan eligibility and the maximum amounts you may be able to borrow. You should indicate on the spreadsheet the amounts you do wish to borrow (which may be no more than the maximum permitted).

Step three: sign Master Promissory Note(s)

Once you have decided how much you wish to borrow you should visit the StudentLoans.gov website and sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN). 

You will need to sign one MPN for a Direct Stafford Loan and one for a Direct PLUS loan if you intend to apply for a PLUS loan. You must save your Master Promissory Note (eMPN) as a PDF file as you will need this later when contacting the University.

If you intend to apply for a Direct PLUS loan (Parent or Grad) then you will need to visit the StudentLoans.gov website and make your application request online.

You will need to initiate a credit check and provide proof to the University that this has been accepted (take a screenshot). Direct PLUS Loans require a separate Master Promissory Note (MPN) to Direct Stafford Loans. You must save your eMPN as a PDF file as you will need this later when contacting the University.

Master Promissory Notes must be signed for every award year: if you are continuing your studies at the University you must repeat this process annually.

Step four: Direct Loan Entrance Counselling

Federal law requires all new students to complete entrance counselling at the appropriate grade level (undergraduate or postgraduate) for the appropriate loans (Direct Stafford Loan, and/or Direct PLUS Loan) prior to any loan origination. 

If you are continuing into a further year of study on the same programme at the University then you do not need to complete entrance counselling again.

Loan counselling will inform you of your rights and obligations. If you do not complete entrance counselling we will not be able to originate your loan(s). You must complete entrance counselling by visiting the StudentLoans.gov website and take a screenshot or obtain other evidence which indicates you have done so.

Step five: notify the University

Once you have completed the steps above then you may notify the University of your intentions. You must provide us, by email, the following documents:

  • Completed Cost of Attendance Calculator;
  • Copy of Direct Stafford Loan Master Promissory Note;
  • Copy of Direct PLUS Loan Master Promissory Note (if applicable);
  • Copy of accepted credit check confirmation (PLUS Loan applicants only)
  • Copy of Direct Loan entrance counselling confirmation (first year first-time borrowers only);
  • Copy of offer letter from the University (new students only).

Please email your completed application pack to the University's Student Funding Unit at studentfunding@plymouth.ac.uk.

For priority treatment please enter the subject line of your email in the following format: US Loan for Award Year YYYY-YY (surname, forename)

For example: US Loan for Award Year 2015-16 (Smith, John).

What next?

The University will verify the information you have provided. Your tuition fees will be confirmed by the Student Funding Unit.

If any information is incomplete or incorrect then this will almost certainly delay the origination of your loans.

You will be notified of any adjustments to your loan eligibility and the amounts which will be originated by the University.

Once the University is satisfied with your eligibility and loan entitlement your loans will be originated. Information about how, and when, funds arrive is available from our page about receiving funds

Please note that the University is required to supply the details of any loans originated for eligible students, and the details of the enrolment of those students, to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).