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Financial Aid for International Study through the FAFSA

Financial Aid for International Study through the FAFSA

If you've made the decision to pursue your degree from a school outside the United States, let us assist you in learning which overseas institutions are eligible for federal student aid and walk you through the application process so you can put some money toward your tuition. You may be eligible for financial help through the FAFSA program if you're an American who wants to pursue your degree abroad. Learn all about how it works.

What is Aid for International Study ?

You might be eligible to use federal student aid to cover your costs whether you want to complete your degree outside of the United States or study abroad for a semester. Several criteria determine your eligibility for financial aid through the FAFSA. One of them is whether the U.S. Department of Education recognizes the foreign university you wish to apply to for the FAFSA program.

The kind of program (study abroad or full degree) you intend to enroll in will determine the type of aid you can acquire and the procedures you must follow. Similar to universities in the United States, the type of help for which you are eligible depends on whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student.

If you meet the requirements for help, you may be eligible to receive federal student aid for a study abroad program. Learn about the federal student aid programs and the FAFSA procedure if you aren't already in the habit of submitting an FAFSA form each year for college. Before you may obtain federal student aid to study abroad, you must complete an Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.

Contact the financial aid office at your American school to find out which sorts of financial aid you'll be allowed to use for your study abroad program. You won't be able to receive federal student aid to help pay for your study abroad (if your American school doesn't participate in the federal student aid programs). Get all of the documentation completed as soon as possible because it's crucial for both your American school and the overseas school that you submit it on time.

What Federal Student Aid Can I Get to Pursue a Degree at an International School ?

The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program offers federal student loans to numerous universities all around the world. For your undergraduate studies, you may be eligible for a Direct Subsidized Loan or Direct Unsubsidized Loan. Graduate students can apply for Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Direct PLUS Loans. Your parent should inquire about applying for a Direct PLUS Loan for Parents if they want to borrow money on your behalf. You cannot use a Federal Pell Grant to get your degree at an overseas school since they do not participate in the grant programs run by the U.S. Department of Education.

How Much Can I Get From Federal Student Loans ?

Depending on a number of variables (year in school, status as a dependent or independent student, etc.), the annual limit for Direct Subsidized Loans plus Direct Unsubsidized Loans ranges from $5,500 to $20,500. The amount of your Direct PLUS Loan is calculated by deducting your overall financial aid package from the total cost of attending the school.

How to Apply for a Federal Student Loan to use at an International School ?

Use the same procedure you would to apply for financial aid in the United States to obtain student loans at your international school. Applying for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can seem complicated, particularly when planning to enroll at a foreign university. It will be lot simpler if you take these actions:

1) As soon as you can, fill out an FAFSA form at For school attendance that starts at any point between July 1 of the subsequent year and June of the following year, the FAFSA form becomes accessible on October 1. Students who intend to attend abroad schools do not need to complete a separate FAFSA form.

2) Verify that your FAFSA information is on file with the school you intend to attend. Your FAFSA data may be electronically accessed by international schools. When asked about Federal School Codes on the FAFSA form, be sure to include the school you intend to attend. Your school will download your information once it is displayed on your FAFSA form.

3) Ask your preferred school what steps are next. At this point in the process, different schools operate in different ways. Inquire at your school about how you will receive your loan funds, the documentation you must complete, the due dates, etc. If your parent intends to apply for a Direct PLUS Loan, he or she should also keep a careful eye on required paperwork and deadlines. Keep track of everything that is expected of you, make copies of paper documents, and file them safely.

4) You must complete entrance counselling if you are a first-year student borrowing federal funds for the first time. This means that in order to understand about the obligations associated with taking out a loan, you will have to read material, view a video online, or attend a presentation in person. Depending on the school, your entry counselling may take place before you depart the United States or once you are there.

How to Get Paid for International Study ?

The U.S. Treasury will electronically transfer your loan funds to the designated bank for the international school. The money will first be applied to any debt you have with the school (tuition, fees, etc.). If there is any money left over after the funds are applied to your account at the school, any extra money will be given to you. You might not receive payment from your funds before leaving the U.S., so you'll probably have to cover your own travel costs.

When and How to Repay the Loan ?

That depends on whether it’s a subsidized loan or unsubsidized loan versus a PLUS loan. Loans used to fund international study must be repaid in the same manner as loans used to fund American schools.

Which Foreign Universities are Eligible for FAFSA ?

The US Department of Education determines whether or not international institutions of higher learning are eligible for FAFSA. The following resources can help you choose a school (this list is updated every three months, contact your chosen institution to confirm that it is currently a participant).

Each qualifying international school is listed in the table, sorted by nation. Two categories exist, If a university is marked as "eligible," you can use the FAFSA to apply for loans to help pay for your international degree. Some colleges are designated as "deferment only", which means you cannot utilize FAFSA loans for your degree earned overseas, but you can put any outstanding student loans into deferment status while attending that university, provided you abide by all rules.

Note :
International medical schools that wish to participate in the federal student loan programs must submit annual reports and continue to meet specific eligibility conditions. Furthermore, a medical program at a school may not be eligible for federal student loan participation even though the school may be eligible for other loan programs.

Does FAFSA Loans and Grants Work in Abroad ?

Financial aid comes in several forms, some of which are accepted overseas while others are not. Grants (such as Pell grants) are ineligible for use abroad, however nearly 600 colleges in Europe allow US students to use their FAFSA loan awards to cover the cost of their degrees there, or at the very least to postpone loan payments. Federal loans (subsidized or unsubsidized) or private loans are both options. The interest rates for federal loans are often lower than those on private loans.

1) Federal loans : 
In contrast to unsubsidized student loans, which you are always responsible for paying interest on even while attending college, subsidized federal student loans are loans for which the U.S. government pays the interest while you are enrolled in college. Unlike unsubsidized federal loans, which do not require proof of financial need, subsidized federal loans require proof of financial need in order to be approved. Graduate students or parents of dependent undergraduate students may use Direct Plus Loans, which are federal loans, to assist pay for college.

2) Private Loans : 
Try to use federal loans wherever possible because private loans typically have higher interest rates and may cost more to repay. Always ask about the interest rate and the terms of repayment before accepting any loan as a best practice to avoid unpleasant surprises later.

How to Research Schools and their Requirements ?

  • If you are interested in a particular school, visit its website to learn more about the school's resources and programs for overseas students, program availability (does it offer the degree you want? ), cost, and enrollment regulations.
  • Make a to-do list and conduct research. For example, what paperwork is required? (Visas?, proper passport?, Emergency contacts?, Medical insurance?)
  • To organize your school-related papers and information, make a file.
  • Who will be handling the processing of your financial aid at the school? When you have questions, send them an email with your email address. (If you are unsure of where to begin, contact the office for international students at the school.)
  • Never forget that you can get assistance with completing the FAFSA form at or by phone at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use FAFSA to study abroad for a degree?
FAFSA can be used to pay for a degree earned overseas, yes. The US Department of Education has given permission to 750 institutions overseas, 600 of which are in Europe, to use FAFSA loans there or postpone other study loan payments.

What after submitting FAFSA?
After filing your FAFSA, you should speak with your particular school about next steps. The US Treasury typically provides funding directly to colleges to pay tuition costs. If there are any leftover funds, your school may decide to transfer them to your student account or provide you a straight refund.

Does it matter, whether I'm studying in a full program or just an exchange?
American citizens are eligible for financial aid to help with the fees, whether you plan to study abroad for a full program or just one semester. If the school accepts student loans, you must include it specifically on your application if you are enrolled in a full degree program at a specific institution abroad.
On your application, you will typically simply name the American university through which you are studying abroad. More detailed inquiries regarding how your financial aid can be applied to the costs of studying abroad should be directed to the financial aid office at your home university. In either case, all students must complete the same form.

What financial options available for me?
You are qualified to obtain money through a Direct Subsidized Loan or a Direct Unsubsidized Loan as an undergraduate. Students enrolled in a full degree program at an overseas university are not qualified to obtain a Federal Pell Grant since international institutions are not permitted to take part in the US Department of Education's grant programs. You might also want to think about getting a private loan if your federal student aid is insufficient to pay all of your expenses.

Can I defer loan payments, while pursuing a master’s degree in abroad?
If you follow all regulations, you should be able to postpone most student loan payments while pursuing a graduate degree if your foreign university is FAFSA qualified or if it is listed under the "deferment only" category. However, be sure in advance by calling your loan servicer. As each form of loan has a distinct repayment strategy, find out if you must pay interest during the period of deferment or forbearance.

Where do I start for aid for a study-abroad  ?
The government's Federal Student Aid website, where you can complete the free application for federal student aid, or FAFSA, is going to be the best place to start for the majority of American students, whether you are studying locally or worldwide. Applications for programs commencing in the fall of the following year can now be submitted via the FAFSA beginning on October 1.

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