Getting Loans  to Travel and Learn

The opportunity to study abroad can be one of the best things about going to college. Each year, almost 300,000 American students spend from a summer to a year studying at a foreign university or overseas through an American program. The number of international students studying in the U.S. is almost three times the number of Americans abroad. The vast majority of these students share one concern: how to pay for their international experience.

Loans for Americans Studying Abroad

American students who are studying abroad in short-term (summer-long to academic year-long) programs generally can use their federal aid to finance their study abroad. The same is true if they are participating through a third-party U.S. college or university. To get details and to verify that that federal aid is fully applicable, students should contact the program coordinator.

American students enrolled directly in foreign universities must check with their school to make sure they participate in U.S. student loan programs. Many do. These students are limited in the federal aid funds they may use, however. Stafford loans are the only form of U.S. federal aid that is awarded to students directly enrolled overseas.

Students should also investigate all the funding options at their college. All colleges now have specific offices that handle study abroad, and they have a wealth of funding programs, as well as general information on how to fund international study.

Private lenders may also be able to help.

  • Sallie Mae International offers private students loans to students who are attending university abroad and plan to earn their degree from a foreign university, and for U.S. students who plan to study abroad for just a short time and plan to earn their degree from a U.S. institution. The website is
  • connects students at dozens of U.S. colleges and universities with credible lenders who have products tailored to the study abroad student.
  • is a source of funding for U.S. students studying abroad short-term and for Americans seeking degrees abroad.

International Students in the United States

Foreign nationals are not eligible for U.S. government aid to study in the United States. That does not mean, however, that there is no help to be had in the United States. International student can qualify for a range of private loans if they apply with a co-signor with good credit who is a permanent U.S. citizen.  This person can be anyone who is willing to help.

The resources listed above (Sallie Mae, and all offer products designed for international students in the United States.

As is the case for U.S. students, one of the richest sources of educational funding is the university you are planning to attend. All colleges and universities now have extensive departments that serve the needs of the international community on campus, including administering grants and scholarships at the school to encourage international students to attend. This office may also be able to direct you to local sources of funding in that community.