One of the best ways to broaden your outlook on life is to visit other countries. Even better, attending a university in another country, even if only for a single semester, can open wide new vistas in terms of your philosophical, sociological, and general growth as a human being. While the expense might at first appear to be a hindrance, there are a number of ways to finance international studies.
Let’s take a look at how to get student loans for studying abroad.
Determine Your Need
Before you set about garnering the funds to finance your endeavor, it’s important to determine how much money you’ll need to comfortably make it happen. With a solid goal in mind, you’ll be better positioned to craft your approach to making your dream real.
At a minimum, you’ll need to cover transportation costs to and from your destination plus tuition fees and lodging. That’s in addition, of course, to your food, clothing, and entertainment needs.
These expenses will vary according to your desired destination. Popular cities like Rome, London and Paris are going to cost a lot more. If that’s what you want to do, more power to you. However, you can still get the benefits of studying abroad by choosing smaller, lesser-known places.
You can create a budget within which you’ll live once you have a general idea of what to expect. This, in turn, will help you figure how much money you’re going to need to gather to make it happen.
Seek Grants and Scholarships First
Before going straight to loans, look around to see what grants, scholarships and other sources of funding for which you can qualify.
Federal student aid is offered to help scholars pursue studies abroad, including grants, work-study funds and loans. Visit the financial aid office at your school to see what they have to offer in that regard. Complete the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) to find programs for which you are eligible.
A number of foreign study government scholarships are offered; check with the U.S. State Department to see what’s available. After all, the more free money you can get, the fewer loan dollars you’ll have to eventually repay.
Study Abroad Loans
Once you have an idea of how much money you’ll need and you’ve seen what you can get in scholarships and grant money, the amount of your shortfall will be apparent. It is at that point you should begin looking at student loans for studying abroad.
You’ll find a host of federal loans with many of the same benefits as those available for studying domestically. These include Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized, and Direct PLUS Loans. The advantages of these include fixed low-interest rates, income-based repayment, and loan forgiveness and deferment. Because of these advantages, it’s a good idea to exhaust all possible federal resources before turning to the private sector.
Private lenders also offer money to scholars looking to study abroad. One of the best places to start in that regard is with an organization like Juno to find the lowest possible interest rates. In fact, Juno also has study abroad offers to cover many of the largest schools outside the States.
Start Early and Be Patient
Understanding the right approach for how to get student loans for studying abroad can help you accomplish your goal far more expeditiously.
You’ll also save money with the steps outlined here because you’ll minimize the amount you’ll need to borrow and subsequently repay. You’ll also maximize the favorability of the terms under which you accept those loans.
The key is to start planning early. The more lead-time you afford for research, the more options you’ll have from which to choose. Rushing always costs more. Give yourself time to make the most advantageous decisions possible.