Studying abroad can be a fulfilling and exciting way to learn while in college. For many students, it is a great way to complete their university experience and truly immerse themselves in their course of study.
For example, foreign language students might only truly become fluent by living overseas for a semester or longer. Architecture students can pick up invaluable lessons by studying buildings designed and constructed centuries ago.
Best of all, these opportunities to live and study abroad come with a bonus: college credit. While you are experiencing another culture, you will also be receiving credit for taking classes and passing exams, just as you would if you were at your home university.
However, there is one major drawback for many students: paying for studying abroad. It can be pricey to finance living in a foreign country. In addition to paying for tuition, you will be responsible for your travel and living expenses. So how can you pay for studying abroad? Are student loans to study abroad a possibility?
Can You Use Student Loans for Studying Abroad?
There are many different ways to pay for a semester or full academic year studying abroad. Some students might be able to save up to pay for the difference in cost between their regular tuition and expenses, and the cost of studying abroad. Others might be fortunate enough to have their parents cover these costs.
Many study abroad programs offer grants and scholarships, as do colleges, universities, and other organizations. These can all be great options to help pay for a study abroad program.
Any student interested in studying abroad can apply for study abroad loans that are geared specifically to this type of travel. Other options include private or federal student loans, each of which can be used to pay tuition, room and board, and travel expenses.
However, students should be aware there are some disadvantages to using student loans for studying abroad. Federal student loans have caps, so using them for study abroad programs, which are often more expensive than regular tuition and fees, can mean you no longer have access to these loans. It may also be difficult to qualify for private student loans, which typically require a cosigner if you are under the age of 25 and do not have a solid credit history.
Should You Use Student Loans for Studying Abroad?
The question of whether you should use study abroad student loans must be answered on a case-by-case basis and a previous study we ran showed that 35% of college students use student loan money for studying abroad. When you study abroad, you are typically receiving college credit, so you are using a student loan for its intended purpose: getting a college degree. If you plan your trip and study wisely, using a student loan in this way can be a fantastic investment.
For example, if you want to work in political advocacy related to a specific geographic location, then a study abroad trip will likely boost your career and be worth the loans. However, if you are simply viewing a study abroad trip as a chance to see the world and have fun, then it probably is not a great idea to use student loans.
One important consideration is the interest rate you will be able to obtain for a private student loan. A high interest rate can make it harder to pay back your student loan and will make those three or four months of living overseas an incredibly expensive experience. However, if you are able to obtain a lower interest rate, then student loans to study abroad can be well worth it. Even more so if you are able to translate your international experience into a positive on your resume.
Ultimately, studying abroad is what you make of it. If you choose wisely, it can be a great investment, and worth the money you borrow to go abroad. Just be sure to do your research before committing to a loan.