Timeline of Financial Aid Considerations for International Students

Most college students need some sort of financial aid. As a general rule, it is a good idea to start your financial aid planning about a year in advance. You can use the timeline below to guide you through the key steps in the financial aid process.

Before beginning the process, there are a few terms that will be helpful for you to know:

Key Terms
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) This is the application for Federal student financial aid. This includes grants, loans, and work study. Many colleges and states also require the FAFSA for non-Federal financial aid applications.
Expected Family Contribution (EFC) This is the amount the Federal government expects the student and his or her family to contribute to the cost of attendance. It is based on the family’s income and assets as reported in the FAFSA.
Student Aid Report (SAR) This is used by many colleges to determine eligibility for financial aid. It includes your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), based on information provided in your FAFSA. You will generally receive your SAR by email about 3-5 days after submitting the FAFSA, or in the mail if you did not provide an email address.
CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE This is used by many colleges in order to determine eligibility for Non-federal financial aid.
Master Promissory Note (MPN) This serves as your contract with the federal government for an education loan.

Timeline

November
Estimate the total cost of attending college next year.
Learn more about what you’ll be expected to pay.
In order to complete the FAFSA in January, you will need a Personal Identification Number (PIN). You can apply for your pin at pin.ed.gov to receive your PIN. If you are a dependent student, your parent will also need a PIN.
It is a good idea to start a financial aid folder to help you keep track of all your paperwork.
Double-check all application and financial aid deadlines for your college.
March to April
You should complete the FAFSA as early as possible. You can file the FAFSA online at fafsa.gov. Remember to check with your school’s financial aid office to make sure that you meet their deadline and any state deadlines.
Complete any other financial aid applications that the college might require.
After receiving your Student Aid Report (SAR), review it and make any corrections necessary before returning it to the FAFSA processor.
If the college or university in question requires the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, you can file it online at collegeboard.com at least four weeks before the college’s deadline. You will have to pay a fee to register, as well as a fee for each college to which the information is provided.
After you’ve completed the FAFSA and provided the college’s financial aid office with any other required documentation, you will receive an award letter from the college that lists what aid you will receive. Generally, these award letters are sent to students in April.
Contact the college or university’s financial aid office to make sure that they have everything they need for your application.
May to August
Review acceptance letters and financial aid offers from the colleges that have accepted you; make your decision and notify the college.
Respond to each offer and either accept, reduce (if you only want to accept a portion of the aid offered), or deny the offer (if you’ve decided to attend another college).
Contact your college’s financial aid office and find out about any deposits that you will need to make before entering college.
If you are going to need a student loan to supplement your financial aid, contact your school’s financial aid office to apply.
Complete the appropriate Master Promissory Note (MPN) for your loan type with the federal government.
If you need a private student loan to help fill the gap after scholarships, grants, and federal aid, complete the application process now.
September
Your loan funds will be disbursed into your student account at your school.
When the semester begins, verify with your financial aid office that your college has received your loan proceeds.
Watch videos and learn more with our International Financial Aid Resources center

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