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 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.

If you have transferred onto a course to include a study or work placement (an (INT) or (IND) course), you will need to change the course title on your student loan application. This SFE YouTube video shows you how to change an application

SFE have produced this for students changing to a new university but the guidance also relates to changing course. The information you will need to amend is the Course Title, by adding (INT) for study or (IND) for work to the end of the Course Title. 

Complete your student loan application

You should apply to your national student loan provider. Their websites will tell you when the application process opens:

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 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). The funding you will receive is based on the information you provide in your loan application. 

Information you’ll need

To complete your student loan application, you'll need to provide: 

  • course year (the year you are applying for, not the current year);
  • new course title (if you have transferred course);
  • new graduation 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 (depends on continuation of this scheme);
  • 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. 

If you are a Politics and Parliamentary Studies (PPS) student spending semester 1 in 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 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. If your placement in the HoP is unpaid, this will be classed as a special case placement. See UK and EU student tuition fees and maintenance loans for more information.

Accepting the Terms and Conditions of the Loan

When you complete the online application, you will be prompted to tick the confirmation that you accept the Terms & Conditions of the loan. Your maintenance loan and tuition fee loan will not be released if you have not accepted the loan T&Cs.

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.

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:

  • You subsequently apply for a Travel Grant – in which case they will need your study abroad details to be confirmed by the University. The University confirmed study abroad details with SFE at the end of May each year prior to commencement of the study abroad year. If your loan provider is SFW, SFNI, or SAAS you will need to download a Course Abroad 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 the 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 with your name, student ID number, name and address of employer, charity number if applicable, job title and brief description of main duties, and your placement year start and end dates (approx. if not yet confirmed), and a note of which category the placement fits. 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, the new graduation date, 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 going to China, Hong KongJapan, Korea, Russia, or Taiwan, we will request that your total loan is released in 1 instalment.

If you are going to a county outside Europe, we will request that your loan is realised in 2 instalments (i.e. 50% on the first day of term of the host university, 50% in January).

SFE will email you if they approve the request.

If you are going to a county in Europe, you will receive your loan in 3 instalments.

If you suspend or withdraw from your course once you have received a maintenance payment, you may be in overpayment and this amount will be deducted from your next year's funding. If you have received 50% or 100% of the loan at the start of the course, you should be aware that this could result in a substantial reduction of your future funding 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 and/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 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
  • 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 that you will suffer financial hardship if you are not paid early. For Student Finance England, write to:

  • Financial Hardship Team, Student Loans Company, Memphis Building, Lingfield Point, Darlington, PO Box 120, DL1 1AS

 In addition to the letter you should send: 

  • a letter from your employer on headed paper stating your start date, or a copy of your contract with the start date;
  • 1 month's bank statement for all accounts in your name;
  • evidence of any expenditure and financial outlay you will have (e.g. deposit/rent, travel expenses, etc.).

You can send photocopies of these documents and you don't need to send the originals. Include your name and SFE Customer Reference Number on all correspondence and documents. 

For other loan providers, contact them for details of where to write to and what evidence they will require.

The decision to release payments early lies solely with the loan provider.

Work placement in London

If you are working in London and living in London (but not with parents) you should be eligible for the London rate of student loan. To be assessed by SFE for the London rate, you need to provide the address and postcode of your employer on the loan application form, and you will need to update your contact address in the 'Your Profile' section of your SFE online account with the address where you will be living whilst working. Both addresses will need to be in the EC, WC, N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW postcode areas. See the guidance on how to get the London rate.

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 Provider.
  • 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 and give us the password, and we'll be able to talk with your loan provider to help in resolving the issue for you.