• Kristen Moon

Quick Guide for Using Federal Aid to Pay for International Universities



Are you considering a degree outside the United States? What if I told you that you may be able to use federal student aid to pay your expenses?

The first step is to find out which international schools participate in the Federal Student Loan Programs. This information can be found on the studentaid.ed.gov website. Their list is updated quarterly. Click here to see the most updated list.

What type of federal aid can I receive?

Federal student aid includes: loans, grants, and work-study. Out of these three options, only loans are applicable to international colleges. Students may receive subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Parents are also eligible for PLUS Loans and can borrow on the student's behalf. International schools do not participate in the U.S. Department of Education’s grant programs; therefore students are not able to obtain a Federal Pell Grant. They also do not participate in federal work-study.

How much can I receive?

The annual limit for Direct Subsidized Loans plus Direct Unsubsidized Loans varies from $5,500 to $20,500. Direct PLUS Loan amounts are determined by subtracting any other financial aid you’re receiving from your total cost of attendance at the school.

How do I apply?

Apply for student loans at your international school using the same process you use to apply for aid in the U.S. The first step is to complete the FAFSA.

Click here to access FAFSA.

How does the international school receive my funds?

Loan funds are electronically transmitted from the U.S. Treasury to the international school’s designated bank. The college applies the funds toward tuition and fees. If there is any money left over after the funds are applied, the extra money is dispersed to the student.

Federal student loans benefits

Federal student loans offer many benefits compared to other loan types.

  • Interest rates are typically lower than private loans

  • No credit check

  • No cosigner

  • Repayment begins after you graduate

  • If you demonstrate financial need, the government will pay your interest while you are in school

  • Federal student loans offer flexible repayment plans compared to private loans

  • If you work in certain jobs, you may be eligible to have a portion of your federal student loans forgiven.

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