Talk Nerdy to Me: Financial Aid for Study Abroad

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Does thinking about study abroad expenses make you want to cover your ears and close your eyes? Do acronyms like FAFSA and HEA, or trying to remember (again!) the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans, make you want to forget about studying abroad all together? We get it. Finding your perfect study abroad program is hard enough, and now you have to find a way to pay for it!

But, covering your ears and closing your eyes won’t make your financial aid woes disappear. Believe us, we’ve tried. So to help you out, we pulled together some common, and perhaps some uncommon, frequently asked questions related to study abroad financial aid to get your head in the right place before you sign the dotted line. From helping you find ways to communicate costs to your parents to uncovering ways to dig up hidden treasure (read: money) from the depths of your school or government’s coffers, when it comes to study abroad financial aid, we’ve got you covered.

Talk Nerdy to Me: Financial Aid for Study Abroad

Keep those eyes open and your ears on the listen so you can take on your study abroad experience to the fullest! Are you ready for us to talk nerdy to you about all things financial aid for study abroad? Then keep reading!

Financial aid for study abroad FAQs

Can I use FAFSA to study abroad?

Short answer: yes. Longer answer: keep doing your research. Financial aid eligibility varies from person to person and program to program and you need to make sure your program qualifies – and that you have that in writing.

You may be thinking to yourself “But I have a friend who did/didn’t receive financial aid for their study abroad” and that’s what is framing your perspective. We want to encourage you to keep asking questions! Their experience is not your experience, is not another person’s experience, and it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re not only setting yourself up for a stellar study abroad program, but also one that you’re satisfied with financially. 

What types of financial aid are there for study abroad?

If you’re asking yourself (or maybe someone else is asking you) what types of financial aid there are for study abroad— there are a lot. You can explore study abroad grants, student loans for overseas study, FAFSA’s international advice for study abroad, and study abroad scholarships. See? We told you there were a lot.

If you’re interested in more articles on scholarships for study abroad, check out these; from 12 Study Abroad Scholarships for LGBT Students to 5 Study Abroad Scholarships for Underrepresented Students, to GoAbroad’s 5 Favorite African American Study Abroad Scholarships. We have done the research on the who, what, when, and why of study abroad scholarships, so you can focus on the where and go study abroad!

Talk to me more about student loans for international study.

As you mentally (or physically) check things off your study abroad to do list, you are probably heaving a sigh of relief as you go through each one. Flight? Check. Visa? Check. Housing? Check, check, check. But there’s a nagging feeling that something isn’t quite checked off yet...oh right, tuition!

Thankfully, there are many resources for student loans for your study abroad adventure. From resource-rich website pages on study abroad loans to a comprehensive list of scholarships and financial resources to the 411 on student loans for study abroad, your concerns and worries are shared by many and the internet gods have answered.  

USD $1 on a white brick background

Every dolla dolla bill helps, y’all.

Do you have any study abroad financial aid links I can show my parents?

Yes — and we’re glad you asked. If you’re lucky enough to be having the study abroad (and how to finance it) conversation with your parents, then you need to bring your A game to make sure it swings in a positive direction (read: financial support). Getting defensive about costs and responding to their question with a question (i.e. How can we even put a price on the value of a study abroad experience??) won’t get you far. And it really won’t help you finance your study abroad experience, either.

Before you have “the talk” with your parents or loved ones, spend time carefully reviewing these resources to make sure you are fully informed about what other financial avenues you’re exhausting before coming to the Bank of Mom and Dad. They will respect your initiative and proactive efforts and in turn, have more respect for the study abroad program you selected.

What about direct enrolling in a foreign university? Is that something I should look into?

You didn’t think we’d go through financial aid options for studying abroad and not give you all the information did you? If you feel confident in your ability to manage your entire study abroad experience by direct enrolling in a foreign university then we say go for it! You will likely spend less in the end, but you do need to keep in mind what taking your international studies in your own hands will mean for your experience.

You will need to understand the application process for a foreign university, be willing to take the more independent-style approach to study abroad, and know that you are un-enrolling from your current institution for at least a semester (any consequences you need to be made aware of?). You might also need to petition for credit for your international courses if you want the to count towards your degree at your home institution.


A couple study abroad programs that are safe bets to use financial aid

Getting loans to study abroad might seem like yet another hurdle to your pre-departure prep, but reading this in-depth article and educating yourself on what you need to know will make the process a whole lot smoother. To simplify even more, here’s a handy list of study abroad programs where you can get a student loan abroad:

1. SIT Study Abroad

Programs with SIT Study Abroad are not only fascinating, they also have their own specialized study abroad financial aid resources for their programs. Check out some highlights below:



  • Where: Cape Town, South Africa
  • What: Multiculturalism and Human Rights
  • When: throughout the year
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With so many options for financial aid for study abroad, you’ll be boarding that plane in no time.

2. International Studies Abroad (ISA)

ISA (international Studies Abroad) offers study abroad programs throughout the world and financial aid resources to help you prepare for your experience. Check out some study abroad programs you could explore with them below!



Save & compare your favorite programs with MyGoAbroad

3. Your University's Affiliate Providers

What are University Affiliated Providers and why should I care? University Affiliated Providers are organizations with extensive institutional networks with regards to financial aid. Check in with your campus study abroad advisor to learn which organizations your university has direct relationships with — in these instances, you can typically put your regular financial aid package towards any programs hosted by these organizations. 

Here are a couple of examples of study abroad providers that have extensive institution networks, and might already be affiliated with your university:

Pro Tip: You've GOT to talk to your campus study abroad advisor. They have allllll the nitty-gritty details about which organizations your financial aid transfers to.

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Trade in those stacks of dollar bills for colorful euros or pesos or whichever currency you might need.

4. Your University Affiliate Universities

Another option to for financial aid for study abroad is to see if your university has any relationships or partnerships with OTHER universities. These relationships, often called consortiums, can increase your options immensely. These can range from a couple of institutions working together to more than a dozen universities working together! This is another avenue to consider as you scour your options for financial aid for study abroad.

Pro Tip: Yup, talk to your campus advisor! Again, these folks will be your best resource for directing you towards organizations, consortiums, or foreign institutions where you can use financial aid for study abroad. They’ll be so impressed with your thoughtful questions and understanding of this monetary landscape!

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Start saving every penny ASAP to make your study abroad dreams come true.

FAFSA study abroad — Get ready!

Benjamin Franklin said “Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.” As you get your financial aid in order for your study abroad experience, keep in mind not only the big expenses, but also the small ones. Financial aid packages can vary greatly from person to person and school to school so make sure to speak with your campus advisor to ensure you’re making the most of the financial aid packages at your school or what’s been made available to you.

Finding the right study abroad program is one of the most exciting first steps in expanding your international experience and expertise. Finding the right financial aid package to make it happen feels almost as good! If you take the time to explore the resources shared in this article, you will walk away empowered to make informed decisions about an experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life. 

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