Depending on where your studies take you, you may find that the opportunity to study abroad can be quite expensive. If you are an undergraduate study abroad student, you have access to federal grants and loans as well as scholarship opportunities. Once you’ve maximized these options, you can apply for private study abroad loans to help make up the difference.
How does this all work, you ask? Here is a step-by-step process to get you on your way to learning about financial aid for study abroad students:
1. Know Your Costs
This is not always easy, since you may not know what the cost of living will be in your host country. Costs are variable and will depend on the country, the length of your program, what’s included in your program fees, and the type of program you’re enrolled in – not to mention your quality of living. While there are program fees, there is also airfare, local transportation, lodging, entertainment, health insurance, meals, immunizations/vaccinations, and visa fees to consider. Be sure to:
- Speak with your study abroad advisor to see what previous students have spent
- Check out this international cost of living calculator to get a feel for prices in your destination country
- Keep an eye on the exchange rate to get the actual cost in your home currency (for more, see our article on how to make exchange rates work for you!)
Once you’ve considered these factors, you’ll want to put together a budget to have an idea of what your expenses will be. Then, you’ll be able to see how much you can afford out of pocket, what your aid package will cover, and where you need to make up the difference with study abroad loans.
2. Apply for Federal Aid
Once you’ve got an idea of your expenses, you may be eligible for Federal grants and loan programs if you are a US citizen or permanent resident. There are two major types of programs that exist: Federal Grants and Federal Loans.
Federal Grants are need based and include:
Federal Student Loans are also available offering low interest rate. Available federal student loans include:
3. Look for Scholarships
There are scholarships available to study abroad students and there are a number of places you can look:
- University or department – If you have excellent academic performance, you may qualify for university-supported scholarships which you can find through your department, college or study abroad office.
- Online resources – IEFA.org and InternationalScholarships.com list a number of scholarships available to students around the world. You can search based on where you are from, where you are going, and what you are studying.
- Host university – Your host university may also be able to provide you with scholarships based on certain criteria. Talk to your study abroad advisor to see what’s available.
- Outside institutions/organizations – You may be able to find unaffiliated organizations providing scholarships to study abroad students.
4. Apply for Study Abroad Loans
Once you’ve maximized your Federal aid and applied for scholarships, you may still come up short. Study abroad loans are through private lenders that can help you borrow money for your study abroad program. You will be required to be studying and earning credit at a US institution.
Students can borrow up to the total cost of their education minus any aid they’ve received. Almost all lenders allow students to do the application online and will disburse funds to the school who will then disburse the money to the student before departing on their program. You can use the comparison tool to see what study abroad loans are available.