As a study abroad student, you are probably interested in pursuing loans to help you with the cost of your education. The eligibility requirements for study abroad loans vary depending on whether the student loan is federally funded or private. In this article we will explore both options and discuss the requirements to help you determine if you are eligible.
Federal Student Loans
Study abroad student are eligible for federal aid as long as they are receiving credit at a US college or university. Study abroad students are looked at just the same as if they decided to complete their semester on-campus.
In order to be eligible for federal aid for study abroad, you must meet the following requirements:
Demonstrate financial need
Financial need is defined as the difference between the cost of attendance (COA) at a school and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Although COA varies from school to school, your EFC stays the same regardless of the school you choose.
US citizen or eligible non-US citizen
To be eligible for federal aid, the student must be a US citizen or an eligible non-US citizen. An eligible non-US citizen is a US national (including natives of American Samoa or Swains Island), US permanent resident, or an individual who has an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) showing one of the following designations:
- “Asylum Granted”
- “Cuban-Haitian Entrant (Status Pending)”
- “Conditional Entrant” (valid only if issued before April 1, 1980)
- Victims of human trafficking, T-visa (T-2, T-3, or T-4, etc.) holder
- “Parolee” (You must be paroled into the United States for at least one year and you must be able to provide evidence from the USCIS that you are in the United States for other than a temporary purpose and that you intend to become a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.)
Have a valid Social Security number
All study abroad students must have a valid Social Security number with the exception of students from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau.
Registered with the Selective Service
If you’re male between the ages of 18 and 25, you must be registered with Selective Service. The Selective Service maintains contact information to get in touch with you and call you in for military service in the event that there is military conscription.
Full Time Student
All study abroad student must be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program.
A regular student is a student who is enrolled or accepted for enrollment at an institution with the purpose of obtaining a degree, certificate, or other recognized education credential offered by that institution.
To be eligible for Direct Loan Program funds, you must be enrolled at least half-time, maintain satisfactory academic progress in college or career school, as well as:
- Sign statements on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that state that:
- You are not in default on a federal student loan and do not own money on a federal student grant
- You will use federal student aid for educational purposes only
- Show you’re qualified to obtain a college or career school education by:
- Having a high school diploma or its equivalent, such as a General Educational Development (GED) certificate, or
- Completing a high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state law
Private Student Loans
If you find that federal aid is not enough to cover your educational expenses, you and your parents might consider applying for private student loans. Students are generally advised to pursue this route only after exhausting all other options.
Specific eligibility requirements vary from loan to loan, but most study abroad loans require that students:
- Be enrolled at least half-time in a degree program at an eligible school in the US
- Must be a US citizen or US permanent resident
- You may be required to have a cosigner, as you have not yet had the opportunity to build up a good credit history