Every foreign college or university is different, and each can offer unique benefits to U.S. students enrolled there.
You might get an opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture and way of life. Plus, many foreign schools cost less than comparable U.S. institutions; some even provide a tuition-free college education.
Even if you choose a foreign college with low costs, you’ll still need to find the funds to cover them. It’s possible to get student loans for international schools. Here’s what you need to know.
Federal student loans for international schools
U.S. students can use the same federal student loans available at stateside schools to pay for their international programs. Over 700 international schools participate in federal student loan programs.
The Direct Loan Program offers some of the most affordable and accessible student loans for international schools. Here are your federal student loan options:
Undergraduates can get Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans. For loans disbursed before Oct. 1, 2018, the interest rate is 4.45% with a 1.066% fee. If you’re eligible, subsidized loans should be used first to take advantage of the federal interest subsidy.
Parents of undergraduates can help finance their child’s degree with Parent PLUS Loans. These loans have an interest rate of 7.00% and a fee of 4.264%.
Graduate and professional students can get Direct Unsubsidized Loans with a rate of 6.00% and a 1.066% fee. Grad PLUS Loans are also an option, with a 7.00% interest rate and a 4.264% fee.
All of the usual student loan limits apply to federal student loans for international schools, as well.
Unfortunately, these student loans are the only form of federal aid offered to U.S. students at foreign colleges. Other types of federal student aid, such as Pell Grants, won’t be an option when you earn a degree at a non-U.S. school.
How to get Direct Loans at foreign schools
Accessing federal loans at a foreign school is similar to getting them at a U.S. college. Here’s what you must do to get these federal student loans for international schools.
- Make sure your international school is eligible for federal student loans. You can check the Federal Student Aid’s list of participating foreign schools, which is updated quarterly. Verify with your school that it’s currently eligible and participating in the Direct Loan Program.
- Submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The form is the same for students attending U.S. and foreign colleges. When submitting your FAFSA, make sure to select the international school you’re attending. This will allow the school to receive and process your FAFSA information so you can get the federal student loans you need.
- Meet all federal student aid eligibility requirements. In addition to submitting the FAFSA, you’ll need to be eligible for federal student aid. You’ll also need to maintain satisfactory academic progress by completing courses and getting decent grades.
- Work with your international school to complete the student loan process. Your school will be able to guide you through its process to claim your federal student loans. These funds will be disbursed to your foreign school directly.
Private student loans for foreign colleges
You might also explore private student loans as an option to fund your education. While federal student loans are granted by the U.S. government, private student loans are issued by banks and online lenders.
Direct Subsidized, Unsubsidized, and PLUS Loans are more accessible. They often have lower rates and more flexibility than private student loans, too. If you’re interested in private student loans for international schools, make sure your lender offers a better deal than you would get from the federal government.
Of course, sometimes federal student loans aren’t an option. If you’ve reached the borrowing limit on Direct Loans or are otherwise ineligible for federal aid, private student loans could be your next best choice.
However, it can be a challenge to find private student loans for your degree abroad. Many U.S. lenders limit loan offers to stateside students. Few lenders extend private student loans to U.S. students attending a foreign school.
How to find private student loans for international schools
This can make the search for private student loans tricky, but not impossible. A great place to start is with your foreign university or college. Your international school should know what options are available to its U.S. students and point you to the right lenders.
Here’s what to look for in private student loans for international schools:
- Lenders that will work with you. You’ll want to apply with lenders that extend funding for your foreign school. Most borrowers will also need a student loan cosigner to meet the higher credit requirements on private student loans.
- Private student loans you can afford. Look for private student loans with low interest rates and fees. Estimate your monthly payments to ensure you can afford the loan once it enters repayment.
- Deferment options that work for you. Ask about deferment policies on private student loans. For example, if you don’t want to make payments while you’re in school, make sure the lender will allow you to defer payments until after graduation.
Overall, you’ll have the easiest time getting student loans for international schools if you choose to attend a program that offers Direct Loans.
By planning ahead to get the student loans you need, you can attend your dream school outside the U.S. while minimizing financial stress.
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