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About Us

Funding and loans for US students studying in the UK

US Federal Direct Loans

Federal Direct Loans

The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School (BOVTS) participates in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program.

Please click the links below for further policies;

This webpage outlines the types of loans available, how to apply for them and when and how they are disbursed. We will also keep you informed at each step of the process by email.

You may have previously borrowed via a private lender through the FFEL Program. This program is no longer available. However, the Direct Loan Program offers the same loans but instead of a bank lending the money, the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) lends the money directly to students through the student’s school. There are also some differences in the names of the loans. The FFEL Program’s Federal Stafford Loans (subsidized and unsubsidized) are called Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans and the FFEL Program’s Federal PLUS Loan is called a Direct PLUS Loan in the Direct Loan Program.

Please note that students studying outside of the USA are not eligible for PELL Grants or Perkins loans.

Useful contacts

US Dept of Education: (202) 377 3168 or (213) 345 2104
BOVTS Financial Aid Officer: [email protected] 00 44 (0)117 9809252.
Full information about the loan process can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.

FAFSA Websiteclick this text to go to the Federal Aid Website in a new tab

Consumer disclosures for students – click this text to read now.

Direct Loans

Types of loans and eligibility

Types of loans available

There are 2 types of loan available to students through the Federal program at The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. These are the Direct Unsubsidzed and Direct PLUS loans. If you are a Graduate you can apply for a PLUS loan in your own right. The maximum you can borrow through the schemes is the estimated cost of attendance.

The sum of your Federal and any private loans cannot exceed the Cost of Attendance so you should think carefully, should you decide to take out both.

PLUS loans are credit based.

Eligibility for Direct Loans and application process

Direct Loans are available to all US citizens or permanent residents with a valid social security number who have a high school diploma and are not in default on any previous student loans. Male students also have to be registered for Selective Service.

You will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). We will use the information from your FAFSA to assist in determining your eligibility for a Direct Subsidized Loan and/or a Direct Unsubsidized Loan.

• You may complete the FAFSA electronically via the FAFSA on the Web.
• To complete the FAFSA electronically, you must have a Federal Student Aid PIN.
• To apply for a PIN if you do not already have one, or for customer service regarding a previously assigned PIN, visit the Federal Student Aid PIN website.
• After the Department processes your FAFSA, you will receive a FAFSA Submission Summary (FSS). Please retain the FSS for your records and be prepared to provide it to us if we ask.
• BOVTS’ ID is G10794
In addition to completing a FAFSA, you will need to be accepted in a Masters degree level -granting program (ie MA) at our school on at least a half-time basis and meet other eligibility requirements such as maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) and being within the borrowing limits for Direct Unsubsidized Loans and PLUS Loans.

Award notification and completion

Award notification

After we determine your eligibility for a Direct  Unsubsidized Loan or PLUS Loan, we will notify you of the loans and amounts for which you are eligible.

This will depend upon your intended program of study, Estimated Family Contribution, other funding (including any scholarships or bursaries you may have been awarded) and Cost of Attendance. If you do not wish to borrow the full amount on your Award letter you must contact the Financial Aid Office to cancel or reduce your loan amounts.

Depending on your status, we may also include information about a Direct PLUS Loan award for which you or your parent may be eligible. (If you are a graduate/professional student, you may be eligible for a Direct PLUS Loan.)

This notification will include the instructions you need to follow in order for your loan to be processed in a timely manner. Please read this thoroughly.

Direct Loan MPN completion

You must complete a new Direct Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN) for each loan type you wish to borrow. Although you may have previously signed an MPN to receive FFEL or Direct Loan Program loans, these MPNs cannot be used to make Direct Loans at our school.

The MPN is the legal document through which you promise to repay your Direct Loans and any accrued interest and fees to the Department. It also explains the terms and conditions of your loans. In some cases, a Direct Loan MPN can be used to make loans for up to ten years. However, you will need to complete a new Direct Loan MPN each academic year that you receive a Direct Unsubsidized Loan at our school.

• You may complete a Direct Loan MPN electronically, click this text to go to the website in a new tab.
• To complete a Direct Loan MPN electronically, you must have a Federal Student Aid PIN. This is the same PIN used to complete the FAFSA.
• After you complete your MPN, you will be able to print and retain it for your records. You do not need to provide us with a copy; we will be notified electronically of your completion.
Note: You also have the option to complete a paper Direct Loan MPN. To do so, call the Department’s Applicant Services staff at 800/557-7394 and then return the completed paper MPN to the Department at the address included in the instructions that will be provided to you. We will be notified of your completion.

Direct Loan Entrance Counseling completion

You must complete Direct Loan Entrance Counselling before taking out your first loan before you can receive a Direct Loan.

• You may complete Direct Loan Entrance Counselling electronically via: click this text to go to the website in a new tab.
• To complete Direct Loan Entrance Counselling electronically, you must have a Federal Student Aid PIN. This is the same PIN used to complete the FAFSA.
• After you complete entrance counselling, we will be notified electronically.
• You will need to complete Entrance Counselling once for the first Loan you borrow (eg PLUS).
• Parents are not required to complete Entrance Counselling for a Parent PLUS loan.
You will also be required to complete Exit Counselling shortly before you complete your studies. Federal Student Aid also have Financial Awareness Counselling. Whilst this is not compulsory you may find it of use when planning your borrowing and spending.

Certification and disbursement of funds

Loan certification

Once you have completed the required processes as outlined in the email sent to you, we will originate (certify) the loans and send a confirmation letter to you.

You will be able to use this letter to support your visa application.

Federal loans can only be disbursed in 3 instalments for graduates and must be allocated to any due Tuition fees first. This will clearly affect your financial plans for the year and the options available to you.

You should contact the Financial Aid Officer by email [email protected] if you have any questions.

Please note that once originated loan information will be sent to the National Student Loan Data System.

As you can see this is a long process. In order for you to have your payment disbursed in time for the start of session you will need to have completed your FAFSA and signed the MPN by early July if possible. You will also need proof of funding for your visa application.

Disbursement of funds

Before each disbursement BOVTS is required to confirm you are still eligible to receive funds. This includes ensuring you are making Satisfactory Academic Progress and are studying ‘at least half time’ and you are not conducting any study or research in the US.

The loans will be disbursed to BOVTS who will then arrange to convert the loans to pounds sterling. Once we know the amount in pounds received the money is allocated to tuition and accommodation fees as laid down in the US Dept of Education regulations before any excess is returned to you. You will then be notified of how the loan has been allocated.

Excess funds are returned to you in GBP, either by cheque or bank transfer to a UK bank account. You will need to provide us with your UK Bank account details, please complete the Student Bank Form and return to the Financial Aid Office in the Admissions office prior to each disbursement. For details on how opening a UK Bank Account, please see below.

Please note any PLUS loan is allocated to your Institutional charges before the Unsubsidised Loan.

Opening a UK Bank Account

In order to receive your Federal Funds as quickly as possible, we would advise you to open a UK bank account to use during your time in the UK.

There are many High Street banks in the local area that offer student accounts including:

These banks will normally require you to provide proof of a UK address and that you are an enrolled student.

Additional information

You should be aware of our return of Title IV funds policy.

For further information on BOVTS, relating to Federal Aid requirements, please see BOVTSs’ Publication Scheme and our Consumer Information pages.

Bristol Old Vic Theatre School looks forward to participating in the Direct Loan Program and offering the benefits of Direct Loans to our U.S. students.

For additional information about Direct Loans, visit Federal Student Aid via: click this text to go to the website in a new tab. or contact the Financial Aid Officer at [email protected] if you have any questions. or phone 00 44 (0)117 9809252 for more information.

Private loans from Sallie Mae

Private loans are offered by banks, not the government, and typically do not offer the same benefits as Title IV loans, like fixed interest rates or income-based repayment plans. Private loans can generally be more expensive and you should research whether these loans suit your borrowing needs and consider your longer term repayment options. StudentAid has more information about the differences between federal and private loans.

Find out more about Sallie Mae loans.

Read our guide about eligibility for a Sallie Mae loan and how to apply.

529 College Savings Plans

A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan designed to encourage saving for future college costs. Legally known as ‘Qualified Tuition Plans’, they are sponsored by States and are authorised by section 529 of the IRS code.

There are 2 types of 529 Plans: Pre-paid tuition plans and College Savings Plans.

Contributions are not tax deductible but the plan earnings are not subject to income tax.

For further information on 529 Plans, see the links below:

Satisfactory Academic Progress and other Policies

Students in receipt of Aid are expected to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress, please see the policies below.

BOVTS Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy 
BOVTS Return of Title IV Policy
BOVTS Default Management Plan
BOVTS Notice for all borrowers of Title IV Aid 

Cost of Attendance

Each academic year, the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School establishes standard student budgets that use cost of attendance (COA) estimates for awarding financial aid funds.

The budgets reflect typical student expenses and consist of two basic components:

  • Direct educational costs – tuition fees, books/supplies and computing costs
  • Indirect (maintenance) costs – accommodation, utilities,  food, travel, miscellaneous personal expenses

While costs may vary depending on where students live in Bristol we expect students’ cost of attendance to be roughly in line with our estimates and the university is required to issue a standard cost of attendance spreadsheet to all students on the same programme of study. Requests for variation to the standard cost of attendance spreadsheet will be considered only exceptionally on a case by case basis by the Financial Aid Officer, up to four weeks prior to the end of the loan period. Students are advised to review their existing borrowings before requesting any increases and proof of costs will be required.

Costs relating to spouses or dependants will not be considered apart from the cost of formal childcare for dependants during class time, study time and commuting time e.g. nursery/child-minder/after school club costs.

The most commonly used Postgraduate Cost of Attendance files for 2024-2025 are below. Some students will require slightly different Cost of Attendance calculations based on type and length of programme. For further information please contact us.

Please see the sample COAHere


Cost of Attendance Expenditure Types and Standard Amounts for 2024-25
Expenditure Type Number of weeks included is based on term-time for particular programme
Housing £380  per week
Food  £100  per week
Travel £62  per week
Personal (toiletries/entertainment) £30 per week
Books and Stationery £300 for the whole course
Equipment List £1514 for the whole course
Flights (round trips to /from the US) £2,000 in total for full academic year
Tuition Fees charged by Bristol Old Vic Theatre School See individual course pages for tuition fees
Immigration Health Surcharge £1,164 paid once only
Visa Cost  (if applying for new student route visa) £490 paid once only
Theoretical Exchange Rate used to convert GBP costs to USD borrowing amounts 1.4 USD/GBP


Please note that the Cost of Attendance (COA) uses a theoretical exchange rate, reviewed annually, to convert UK costs into US dollar borrowing amounts.  The value of funds received will vary according to the exchange rate at the time of each disbursement.  Students are advised to monitor their pounds sterling educational expenses relative to the pounds sterling amounts included in the COA.  If students receive additional pounds sterling funds due to a favourable exchange rate they have the opportunity to reduce their loan debt by asking for future disbursements to be reduced, giving at least seven days’ notice to [email protected]

Students developing and growing in confidence during their time here, seeing their work reaching professional standards in approach and execution; a student who intends to be a stage manager producing a wonderful sound design; a first year student making a lovely recording of a song for their recording project; tracking the careers of former students and seeing them be successful; being able to find a job opportunity for a recent graduate. Frank Bradley, Sound Tutor