Financial Aid for Studying Abroad

September 30th, 2021 by Al C

searching for financial aid

An adventure of a lifetime. A dream for many. A great opportunity to pursue your higher education in a foreign land – but is it affordable? Between tuition, insurance, travel and living expenses the cost of an international education quickly adds up.

If you’re thinking about studying abroad, it’s important to know your options for financial aid – and start saving!

One of the biggest factors in finding appropriate financial aid for a study abroad program is the location of the university you would like to attend. The availability of support for foreigners attending an American school is very different from that available to Americans pursuing an international education in Europe or elsewhere.

With that in mind, there is no simple answer to the best way to fund your study abroad adventure, but there are resources and opportunities for everyone, including undergraduate and graduate students.

From federal student aid to study abroad scholarships and from private sponsors, state organisations and your schools’s financial aid office – there is a financial aid package that will help you cover your study abroad expenses.

In this post we’re going to explore all the options and answer all the most common questions our readers have about securing financial aid for study abroad programs in the U.S., Canada and around the world. We’ll cover sections for Americans studying outside the U.S., international students coming to America, and those attending international schools around the world.

FAFSA and studying abroad: What American students need to know

This is a topic that comes up all the time with our readers. Many students ask “Can you get FAFSA for study abroad?”.

First, let’s explain that FAFSA is the the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is a federal government form that determines your financial needs and informs most colleges’ financial aid offers. FAFSA collects information from applicants and parents, then uses a formula to calculate your capacity to pay for college in the United States and your financial aid requirements.

You won’t be able to receive any kind of federal financial aid in the US without completing the FAFSA, and it is very likely that you would need to complete it in order to receive financial aid directly from your college or university, too.

Can you use financial aid to study abroad?

Federal aid is available for U.S. students seeking to study abroad. The type of program, duration of study and your status as an undergraduate or graduate can affect your eligibility, just like it does at schools in the U.S., but there are some differences when applying for this type of funding.

Study abroad program or foreign enrolled student

One of the biggest differences in the financial support for international studies is the duration of the intended study abroad program. At IEFA we generally talk about 2 main categories of international study: Study Abroad and Foreign Enrolled.

all night study session

“Study Abroad” would be the term for those taking part in a short program of one semester or up to one academic year at a foreign university. Students on this type of program may be able to receive financial aid from the government if they fill out the FAFSA, meet the eligibility requirements and get the required paperwork completed by the financial aid office both at their home (U.S.) college and the foreign university they will attend.

Unfortunately, if your college is not part of the federal program then you would not be able to receive federal support for your study abroad costs.

A “Foreign Enrolled” student, on the other hand, is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is taking their degree program entirely at a foreign university. These students don’t have a “home institution” – a college in the U.S. They must therefore navigate the application process and study abroad experience themselves directly with their chosen school.

The good news for foreign enrolled students is that at many top universities around the world federal student aid is available and those same universities may have relationships with lenders who offer private loans for eligible students, too, meaning there are more funding opportunities and your study abroad dreams may be closer than you think.

Federal Student Loans

If you are studying inside the U.S. or abroad, there are a number of different federal student loan programs and financial aid options. If you’d like more information on federal loans, you can learn about Stafford Loans here. Stafford loans are for students attending college at least half time. They provide an excellent educational funding resource for US citizens and permanent residents.

Studying in the U.S. – information for foreign students

Funding options for international students in the U.S. are more limited than they may be in your home country.

In terms of the financial aid that you may be able to receive there are a few broad categories.

  • The primary source of funds for most international students in the U.S. is their own or their family’s savings.
  • However most are not able to cover all of their costs and the remaining funds come from a variety of sources.
  • Many colleges offer financial aid information and support, which may include partial or full tuition waivers, as well as scholarships which may be merit based or awarded according to financial need. They may also offer scholarships based on country of origin, a student’s degree program, sport, culture or need. Speak to your study abroad advisor or admissions counsellor.
  • Read more about types of scholarship
  • You may also be able to work on or off campus depending on your visa status.
  • There are also many private international and local organizations that can assist with study abroad scholarships, awards and more. Some people think of scholarships as “free money” but there are often conditions you must meet in order to keep the funds you have been awarded. scholarships can also be highly competitive to win.
  • Read about how to write a scholarship-winning essay.
  • If additional funding is required then a private student loan may be the next option. You can search for a loan servicer using the eligibility checker on our site or at International Student Loan.

Studying in Canada

Students in masks

Whatever country you’re from, if you’re studying in Canada you’ll face the same challenges as many other students around the world.

The great news is that as well as the funding that you may be able to find by talking to your study abroad office such as tuition discounts, waivers, scholarships and more, there are also student loans available at a number of top universities across Canada. These loans do not require you to have collateral or a cosigner. Find out more about international student loans in Canada.

Do you have any questions about funding your study abroad experience? Let us know in the comments!


Resources for International Students

September 16th, 2021 by Al C

Female international student on campus

Many international students attend college or community college in the USA or go to a university or other higher education institution in Canada, the UK, Australia or many other countries around the world.

At IEFA we encourage students to broaden their horizons and take on the rewarding experience of an international education just like the estimated 5 to 6 million international students currently enrolled at universities in all four corners of the globe.

Some international students may feel they are isolated in their new country away from friends and family. However, this does not have to be the case! You can find communities of other international students, clubs and societies with common interests and the local community who will help you with the transition to your new country. Many international students actually report that the social life and extra curricular activities many colleges offer is even more valuable to them in their future careers than the quality education they receive compared to staying in their home country.

There are also plenty of resources specifically for international students – from housing, to scholarships and even financial assistance – whether you attend a small college or a large university overseas. You will have access to an international student advisor who can provide assistance and guidance to you before, during and often after you’ve completed your degree program. Many schools have dedicated support teams, or an international student office, who can help with any student visa questions foreign students might have, financial aid and advice on funding sources and access to financial resources.

I hope that this article offers some helpful advice on what people need when they first come over to a different country; don’t be afraid or shy! If you ever need any help please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

International Students

International student on campus

International students, or foreign students, are individuals who choose to do all or part of their post-secondary education in another country and relocate there for the explicit purpose of study. Most international students (more than 40% of all international students around the world) study at colleges and universities in just four destination countries – The U.S., The U.K., Canada and Australia.

Requirements

Many countries require prospective international students to complete standardized tests to demonstrate language competence in the language of instruction or the main spoken language in that country. Students who do not have the required level of language to enter onto their chosen degree program may be able to take a Pathway Program at many colleges and universities. Pathway programs allow students to develop their language skills before proceeding onto their chosen degree programs.

Requirements will also vary depending on your chosen academic studies – whether you’re enrolling for undergraduate study or pursuing a graduate degree.

Student Visas

A student visa is one of the required documents for enrolment for many students. The exact student visa requirement will vary depending on the destination country, length of program and many other factors. Your chosen college or university will be able to give you the latest advice on whether student visas are required or not – for example for a short course of less than 6 months in Canada may not require a study visa as the course can be completed in the time allowed for many temporary visitor visas. Talk to the admissions office or international student office for guidance.

Financial Resources

Living expenses, travel, tuition fees, having a social life… the costs of your education soon add up. Of course this is great for a country’s economy! It does mean that you may have to demonstrate that you have the resources to pay for the total cost of your education in that country in order to be granted your student visa. If you will be studying in the U.S. then there is definitely a requirement to prove you can pay for your own education and living costs. You can do this by providing statements from your bank account, as well as information about whether you receive funding from other sources to pay for your education.

Isolation and homesickness

International students gathered

The feeling of homesickness can be very real for international students when they first study abroad. Most students go through a period of adjustment where they may feel very emotional and even want to return home.

It may feel like the people you meet don’t understand your culture, you miss your friends and family back home, or you can’t get used to the weather or find food that reminds you of home. It can be many things. But there are a number of ways for an international student to overcome homesickness:

  • Stay connected with people back home by sending them photos and updates on how things are going.
  • Socialize with other international students who are studying at the same university. This is a great way to get support, advice and make new friends that will be able to understand what you’re going through.
  • Join clubs or sports teams at your college or university – not only will it help you meet people, but you’ll have a great time doing it!
  • Make sure you’re eating well and exercising regularly. You’ll feel better about yourself and be prepared to take on the day with energy.
  • Get enough sleep! If you don’t, it’s going to be harder for you to face each day with positivity.
  • Use the support offered by your university – the international students’ office, counselling services, social and recreational clubs as well as your teachers, lecturers and support staff you interact with every day – they are there to help you get the most out of your education.

There are also plenty of resources specifically for international university students-from housing, to scholarships and even financial aid information, we have it all covered here!

International Financial Aid Resources

International Scholarships

As well as the IEFA international scholarship database you can also search internationalscholarships.com and speak to the advisors at your college or university as there may be some specific financial aid available for you. Many organizations and top universities offer financial and other aid to support talented students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access higher education at home or abroad.

You can set up a free account to use IEFA here.

International Student Loans

Many international students simply cannot afford to study abroad with only their own income and family support. Even after securing scholarships, awards and grants there can still be a gap between the funds available and the costs.

If this is the case most international students on graduate programs or in their final 2 years of their undergraduate studies at many Canadian or American universities may be eligible for international student loans.

Loans for U.S. permanent resident students abroad are also available (and Stafford Loan funds can be used for study abroad, too). The majority of international students studying in other countries will struggle to find loans available to them.

International Student Resources at Your School

Study time for international student

Whether it’s advice on financial aid or support with on or off campus housing, your university has one or more departments dedicated to getting you the advice and resources you need as an international student. Your education, happiness and welfare is their number 1 priority.

You will have access to

  • Financial Aid Office
  • International Student Advisors
  • Admissions Services
  • Housing and Accommodation
  • Cultural, Spiritual and Physical Wellbeing

Studying in the USA

Although the federal government doesn’t offer financial aid to those studying abroad in the USA, that doesn’t mean that there are no other funding sources. In fact, American colleges and universities are among the most generous in the world when it comes to offering international student financial aid in the form of tuition waivers or discounts as well as scholarships based on financial need, academic merit or athletic ability.

Studying in other countries

Wherever you are studying the advisors at your school or university should be your first port of call for any questions or concerns you have along your international student journey, from admissions requirements right through to job prospects and careers advice after graduation.


The InternationalStudent.com Travel Video Contest is Now Open! (2021)

September 10th, 2021 by Al C

One of the most important aspects in determining who you are is your community.

The communities you belong to have a significant influence on your life and even determine certain choices you make.

That’s why InternationalStudent.com is asking you to share how “community” has impacted or influenced your studies in another country for their Travel Video Contest this year.

You may interpret the term “community” however you wish. However, examples might include your family or your neighborhood at home, your new community while studying abroad, or an internet community.

To be eligible for the 2021 Travel Video Contest, you must be 18 years old. You also must be studying outside of your home country or planning to do so in the future.

The Travel Video Contest is not only a fantastic way to display your video abilities on an international stage, but it’s also a chance to win one of four cash prizes.

This year’s prizes are as follows:

  • Grand Prize: $4,000
  • Second Place: $500
  • Third Place: $250
  • Viewers’ Choice Award: $1,000

Yes, the top prize is $4,000! You could do a lot with that kind of money!

If you believe you have what it takes to win the grand prize go to the official contest page to get full details.


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