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An ever-growing number of U.S. students are taking up opportunities to study abroad according to the Institute of International Education. Year after year the numbers just keep rising, and they cover U.S. students enrolled full-time for their entire degree abroad, those taking a year or semester abroad, and U.S. students that do other related activities and short courses. If you’d like to join them but worry about funding this experience of a lifetime, we’ve got the answers to all your questions.
You have two main options- federal and private loans. Federal loans are granted through the U.S. government, while private loans are granted through a private institution such as a bank or other approved lender. Although we specialize in private loans, we will also cover federal loans because they can be a great way to fund your education - and this is where you should turn before you look at private loans.
You should first fill out a FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, to see what aid you are eligible for. Completing the FAFSA application will let you know if you’re eligible for these loans, grants or work-study funds.
U.S. citizens and eligible non-us citizens can complete the FAFSA. If you’re not sure if you qualify as an eligible non-U.S. citizens, go to the FAFSA website to double check your situation. There are multiple individuals who are eligible as non-us citizens, so please check. There are a few different types and your personal situation will determine which you are eligible to receive. We’re going to take a moment to explain the differences.
Direct Subsidized Loan: For eligible undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need to help cover the costs of higher education at a college or career school.
Direct Unsubsidized Loan: Open to eligible undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Eligibility is not based on financial need.
Direct PLU.S. Loans: For graduate or professional students and parents of dependent undergraduate students to help pay for education expenses not covered by other financial aid. Eligibility is not based on financial need, but a credit check is required. If your parents want to help you pay for your education and need a loan- the PLU.S. loan is a good option.
Perkins Loan Program: No longer available. If you participated in this program you can learn more about managing your repayment by contacting your school or lender directly.
After you’ve explored your options of government-sponsored aid you might not have as much aid available to you as need. Maybe you missed the FAFSA deadline, or maybe you decided not to complete the FAFSA at all. In any of these situations, you still have the option to explore private study abroad loans. Private loans are just as they sound- a loan that is through a private lender, like a bank. Private loans are great if you’re trying to fill the gap in the last bit of aid that you need - you can borrow up to the total cost of your education, minus any other aid you’ll receive.
Benefits of private loans:
You can use our comparison tool to see what lenders are available to provide you with funding at your school.
Should I apply for federal loans or private loans?
You should always apply for as much in federal loans as possible before you resort to private loans. However, for our loans there is no need to complete a FAFSA.
All students must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident who will be studying outside their home country through an approved U.S. school either at the undergraduate or graduate level. The student must receive credit at their home college or university. If you are not sure if your school is eligible, see the complete list of eligible schools. Your school must be accredited by an agency recognized by the United States Secretary of Education and be eligible to participate in federal student aid programs.
Students who are U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents directly enrolled in an eligible international school should look for a foreign enrolled loan.
If you are an international student looking to study in the U.S., please visit our international student page to find a suitable program. We do have programs for international students attending schools in the U.S. or Canada - students studying in their home country or in other destinations are not currently eligible.