Does Financial Aid Cover Studying Abroad?

It depends. If you plan to study abroad at a school that is affiliated with an American school, then you might be able to use financial aid to help cover at least some of the cost of studying abroad.

In reality, studying abroad is a lot less costly than most think. If you plan ahead and start saving a few months before, you might be able to go to Spain, like you always dreamed of. Aside from your personal savings, you may be able to use federal student aid, scholarships and private student loans to pay for your expenses.

Types of Aid that Cover Study Abroad Expenses

Financial Aid Through Your US Based School

The financial aid package you will receive for your study abroad school will be similar to the financial aid package you previously received from your school. The package will include information in regards to the aid you are eligible for, based on your FAFSA® application. These types of aid can include federal grants and loans, as well as any scholarships/grants your school believes you should receive. You can also use private student loans to cover the cost of studying abroad. Keep in mind, private and federal loans are fairly different. Want to know how? Then, click here. 

Reaching out to the financial aid and study abroad offices on campus is a huge help in determining what aid will cover your study abroad experience. Note: If your school does not participate in federal student aid programs, you will not qualify for federal student aid.  

To learn more about each type of aid, check out this article. 

Financial Aid at an International School Through an International School 

International schools don’t participate in the U.S. Department of Education’s grant programs. Unfortunately, this means that you will not be able to qualify for the Federal Pell Grant. The good news is, you can still apply for private grants, scholarships, and loans!

If you decided to pursue a degree at an international school, use these links to find out which schools participate in Federal Student Aid: 

One way to increase your chances of receiving more financial aid is by searching for a school in the US that has multiple international campuses. Doing so will ease some of the financial burden that comes with pursuing higher education and it will also make the financial aid process much easier.

Important: If you qualify for federal student aid (loans), your funds might not be disbursed (paid out) to you before you leave the US. This means you will probably end up covering the cost of travel the first time you go to the international school. 

Some common questions students have about financial aid when studying abroad:

Is my flight to the school I want to study abroad at covered by financial aid? 

The answer to this question relies on where you plan to study. Some schools offer a standard allowance to students for air travel to the international school they plan to go to. Sometimes this allowance will include any additional non-discretionary expenses (e.g. visa, passport costs, and/or medical expenses). 

Does financial aid cover rent, if I live off campus, while I’m studying abroad? 

Some schools charge students their tuition rate, this allows for financial aid to be used each semester. Any other study abroad expenses such as room and board, transportation, etc. are recalculated based on the individual abroad program which helps determine your total cost of attendance. Recalculating the cost of attendance can determine whether the amount you receive in financial aid will decrease or increase.

Are food and transportation covered by financial aid, while studying abroad? 

Did your financial aid cover the total cost of your study abroad tuition and fees? If so, then you can use the rest of the money to pay for any transportation, and food expenses. Let me break this down for you. Your financial aid will get deposited into your eServices by your student account. Your school will charge that account to pay for the tuition cost and fees. Here’s when it gets better…if you have any money in your account after your tuition has been paid off, you can use that money as you wish. That extra cash will be refunded to you through direct deposit (make sure you link your bank account to your student account). 

Is exchange student housing or cost of living with a host family covered by financial aid? 

Each school may have a different financial aid policy. Your housing fees or cost of living with a host family will get billed directly to you. Like previously mentioned, if after you pay for tuition and fees, you can use whatever amount you have left for anything you wish.

To get further details on your specific school’s financial aid policies, contact the financial aid office. They will be able to give you a clear overview of which types of aid you may qualify for based on where you plan to go and your student enrollment status. We hope you have a great time on your next adventure!