Applying for your student loan
You can apply for both a Maintenance Loan to help pay for living costs while studying abroad or on a work placement and a loan for the reduced Tuition Fee.
Find out how to submit your loan application, the information you'll need to provide, and what to do if you're starting your study abroad or work placement early, or if you're only going to be overseas for one term.
Complete your student loan application
You should apply to your national student loan provider. Their websites will tell you when the application process opens:
- Student Finance England
- Student Finance Wales
- Student Finance Northern Ireland
- Student Awards Agency for Scotland
You can apply via the online form. However, the online form does not allow for multiple placement details. If you have more than one work placement, or have a year split between study abroad and work placement, you may find it easier to complete a paper form so that you can write in all the details. SFE students can download a paper form from the Gov.uk website. SFW, SFNI, and SAAS students can download a form from their loan provider's website.
Take extra care to complete your application correctly, with all the details of where you will be and whether you will be on a placement year studying abroad or working (UK or abroad), and if you will be on the Erasmus+ Programme. The funding you will receive is based on the information you provide in your loan application.
Information youll need
To complete your student loan application, you'll need to provide:
- tuition fee;
- course year (the year you are applying for, not the current year);
- new course title (if you have transferred course);
- new course end date (if your course has been extended to include the placement year);
- where you will live for each term [i.e. with parents or elsewhere];
- what you will be doing for each term [i.e. study abroad or work placement];
- whether you will be part of an Erasmus programme;
- where your placement will be [i.e. abroad or UK] (work placements only);
- paid or unpaid, and, if unpaid, the type of placement (work placements only);
- name and address of the company (non-Erasmus work placements only).
Our guidance below shows you how to fill in the parts of the student loan application.
If you are a British Council Language Assistant (BCLA) you should complete the loan application as being on work placement. Erasmus+ students will tick 'Yes' to the Erasmus question on the application and will not be required to provide employer details. BCLAs not on the Erasmus+ programme will tick 'No' to the Erasmus question and will need to provide employer details.
If you are a Politics and Parliamentary Studies (PPS) student spending semester 1 in the USA or Canada and semester 2 in the Houses of Parliament you will need to indicate that you are on study abroad in semester 1 and work placement in semester 2. Your period of work abroad is undertaken as part of a study abroad programme organised by your host university in the USA or Canada, and for the purposes of funding you receive the study abroad level of maintenance for this period. Students on placement in the Houses of Parliament for the full year will indicate work placement for the full year.
Register with the University
You still need to register with the University of Leeds. You can register online through Minerva from 1st August. We'll then confirm your registration to your loan provider. If you do not register with the University you will not be covered by the University insurance policy.
Return the Declaration form
The Student Loans Company will send you:
- your Financial Notification letter (informing you of the loan you will be receiving)
- Declaration form
You should sign and return the Declaration form as soon as possible. In signing the Declaration you are not confirming you agree with the loan amount, you are just accepting its terms and conditions for that year (this is stated on the form). Even if you think you have been incorrectly assessed, you must return the Declaration as you will not receive any funding until you have done this. If the initial assessment is wrong this can be corrected. You can return the Declaration and still dispute the amount of funding.
Your student loan provider will only pay your loan when they've received the signed Declaration form from you.
Evidence required by Student Loans Company
Your loan provider does not need any evidence that you will be abroad or on a work placement when you initially apply for your funding.
Evidence will only be required after you have applied if:
- Your loan provider specifically writes to you and asks to see evidence;
- You subsequently apply for a Travel Grant in which case they will need your Course Abroad Form authorised by the University. If you are eligible for the Travel Grant, SFE will automatically send you the Course Abroad Form. If you loan provider is SFW, SFNI, or SAAS you can download the form from their website or contact them and request a form to be posted to you;
- You are on an unpaid work placement that is one of five specified special case work placements listed on the application form for students who are not studying on a Social Work or Medicine course. If you do tick one of these categories, you should also email Funding@leeds.ac.uk with your name, student ID number, name and address of employer, charity number if applicable, placement dates, and a note of which category they are. We will then write to your loan provider to confirm your placement details. You may receive a higher level of funding if your loan provider approves this.
Your loan provider will only ask for written confirmation from the University in exceptional circumstances and always in writing.
If you are on an unpaid placement that is not a special case, you will be only be eligible for reduced funding. Your loan provider will write to you to inform you of this, and the letter will also say that they cannot complete an assessment for full funding unless the University writes to them with details of your placement. This is a standard letter sent to every student. The University will only need to write to your loan provider if your placement is a special case and therefore attracts full funding. If it is not, you can ignore the letter.
If you're already on a course that includes study abroad or work placement (UK or abroad)
If you initially enrolled on a course that includes a study abroad or a work placement year, you just need to make sure you complete your student loan application with the details of where you'll be during the year. Your student loan provider should already know that you will be away from the University for the year and should assess you accordingly.
If you've changed course to include study abroad or work placement (UK or abroad)
If you initially enrolled on a course that didn't include a placement year and have transferred onto a new course to include a placement year, you must complete and sign a Change of Programme form with your department. Your department then will update your University record so that your degree certificate and transcript show that you undertook a placement year.
The student loan contract is between the student and their loan provider, so you will need to inform your loan provider if you require funding for your placement year.
- If your loan provider has rolled forward your application from the previous year, you will need to change the course title to the new course you have transferred onto. You will need to provide details in the sections of the form indicating where you will be and what you will be doing for the placement year.
- If your loan provider has not rolled forward your application from the previous year, you will need to complete a full application, and ensure you enter the title of the new course you are on and complete the sections related to your placement year.
If you need to make changes to your application (to update your course title and course length)
Up until the start of the academic year, you can make changes to your online account via the SFE portal. After the start of the academic year, you will need to contact Funding if your course title or course length needs to be changes.
Early starters and loan instalments
This applies to SFE students only. If you are funded by SFW, SFNI, or SAAS, you will need to contact them to find out about their payment arrangements
Study abroad early starter
If the first day of term at your host university is earlier than the first day of term at Leeds by 5 weeks or more, the University of Leeds will request an early release of the first instalment of your maintenance loan in line with the start of year study year abroad. SFE will email you directly if they approve this request. If the first day of term at your host university is less than 5 weeks earlier, or is later than the first day of term at Leeds, you should expect to receive your maintenance loan 5 weeks earlier than the first day of term at Leeds (around the last week of August). The remaining instalments of your loan will be paid in line with the University of Leeds term dates, and not your host university term dates.
Study abroad loan instalments
If you are on a study year abroad in USA, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand (countries with 2 semesters), we will request that your loan is realised in 2 instalments (i.e. 50% in August, 50% in January).
If you are going to Japan, China, Russia, or other countries where you need to show you have funds for the year to get a Visa, we will request that your total loan is released in 1 instalment.
SFE will email you if they approve the request.
If you suspend or withdraw from your course once you have received a maintenance payment, you will be required to repay a portion of the funding immediately. If you have received 50% or 100% of the loan at the start of the course, you should be aware that you may need to repay most of this depending on when you cease to be a registered student. For more information see Changes in Circumstances.
Please note: the payment schedule on the SFE Portal will continue to show the payment dates and instalments linked to University of Leeds term dates. However, if you have received an email from SFE with an early payment date or 1 or 2 instalments, this confirms the actual details of your payments.
Work placement abroad early starter
If you will be on a work placement abroad with an early start date (i.e. 5 weeks or more before the first day of term at Leeds), you can email Funding@leeds.ac.uk with the following details and we will request an early release of your loan:
- Your name, Leeds student ID number, and course title
- Name and address of the organisation you'll be working for
- Whether or not your placement is part of the Erasmus scheme
- Start date and end date (if exact dates are not known, please provide approximate dates exact dates can be confirmed later)
The decision on whether this is approved is with your loan provider.
If you are funded by SFE, they will email you to confirm the payment date. If you are funded by SFE and your placement starts less than 5 weeks earlier, or is later than the first day of term at Leeds, you should expect to receive your maintenance loan 5 weeks earlier than the first day of term at Leeds (around the last week of August).
If you are funded by SFW, SFNI, or SAAS, requests for early payments will be sent to them by the University but you are advised to check with your loan provider regarding their arrangements for early payments.
Work placement UK early starter
Students on a work placement in the UK can expect to receive their maintenance loan in line with the first day of term at Leeds. If you are on a UK work placement that starts earlier than this and you want to request an early release of the first instalment of your loan, you will need to send a letter to your loan provider to request this. You will need to explain, and provide evidence, that you will suffer financial hardship if you are not paid early. For Student Finance England, contact:
Discretionary Payments Team, Student Finance England, PO Box 210, Darlington, DL1 9HJ
For other loan providers, contact them for details of where to write to.
The decision to release payments early lies solely with the loan provider.
Going abroad for one term
- Students who go abroad for one term are not confirmed as having a definite place until January/February of the academic year in which they are going.
- We advise you to apply for your student loan as though you will be at Leeds for the whole year and then tell your loan company about the term abroad when your school confirms it. (This advice is approved by SFE.)
- All schools who have students going on a term abroad will also send a list of these students to Funding, and we will write a letter to the loan provider for every student, informing them of the term abroad details. Once your loan provider is advised of your term abroad, they will reassess your maintenance loan: you may get a small increase for the term you are away and you may be eligible to apply for a Travel Grant.
Asking us to talk to your loan provider while you're away
Set up a Professional Password
If you have an issue with your student loan, the University can only speak to your loan provider if you have set up a Professional Password. It is much easier to do this before you go abroad or on placement, even though you might not need to use it.
We strongly advise that every student spending a year abroad or on placement sets up a password.
To do this, call your student loan provider:
- Ask to set up a Professional Password.
- You will be asked who the password is for. You can answer this: Higher Education Institution.
- You will be asked to provide the University's address: University of Leeds, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, LS2 9JT.
- You can then give your student loan provider a password and keep a note of this for yourself.
- If you do experience problems, you can contact Funding@leeds.ac.uk and give us the password, and we'll be able to talk with your loan provider to help in resolving the issue for you.