Student Loans Examined
If you are a US student planning on earning a degree at a foreign institution, there are several things you will need to know before applying for financial aid. Eligibility requirements, the application process, and school requirements are just a few of the things you need to look into before beginning the financial aid application process.
Who is Eligible for Foreign Enrolled Student Loans?
In order to be eligible to receive federal student aid for attendance at a foreign school, there are several requirements you must meet. Students must be US citizens, permanent residents, or eligible non-citizens.
You must be enrolled as a “regular” student in an eligible program at an eligible foreign institution. A “regular” student is defined as a student who is enrolled—or accepted for enrollment—for the purpose of obtaining a degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential offered by the school. Schools must determine separately for each individual student whether or not that student is a regular student.
You must also be qualified to study at the postsecondary level. This means that you must have a high school diploma, a secondary school completion credential, or its recognized equivalent. Equivalents include General Education Development tests, state certificates, and secondary school completion credentials from foreign schools. Students who are enrolled in foreign schools cannot qualify by taking an “Ability-to-Benefit” Test.
Other requirements that you must meet in order to receive aid include:
- Students must be enrolled at least half time.
- Students must make satisfactory academic progress (SAP) in accordance with the SAP policy established by the school.
- The student must have a correct social security number (SSN).
- Students may not be in default on any Title IV program loan (unless they have taken prescribed steps to cure the default), be in receipt of excess Title IV loan amounts or grant payments, or have property that is subject to a judgment lien for a debt owed to the US.
- Students must satisfy Selective Service registration requirements.
What Loans are Available for Foreign Enrolled Students?
Federal student loans that are available for foreign enrolled students include:
- Stafford loans (subsidized and unsubsidized)
- Parent PLUS loans
- Graduate PLUS loans
Private loans include:
- Smart Option Student Loan
- Sallie Mae Residency and Relocation Loan
- Use our Student Loan Comparison Tool to help you find the loan that suits your needs.
Do All Foreign Schools Offer Financial Aid?
Not at foreign schools offer federal financial aid. The school in question must be accredited by an agency recognized by the US Secretary of Education and be eligible to participate in federal student aid programs. Federal financial aid is only available to students attending eligible institutions. You can find a list of currently participating schools here by searching “foreign country.”
If your school does not participate in the federal program, you are also not eligible to apply for private student loans. Schools must be approved by the Department of Education to offer the private student loans listed above.
Starting the Application Process
The first step in applying for a federal student loan is to complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. You can fill this out online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Next, you will receive your Student Aid Report (SAR). It is recommended that you wait one or two days after filing the FAFSA, then call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at (800) 4-Fed-Aid (433-3243) and ask to have the hard copy of your SAR mailed to you. Explain that you are attending a foreign school that does not have electronic access to SAR data so you will need to send the hard copy to your school once you receive it. When you receive your SAR, keep a copy for yourself and send the original to your school’s financial aid office for review. Then you can begin the loan application process.