Information compiled by the GradSchools.com team - last updated August 2010
Many students are shocked to learn that there are a variety of ways to fund graduate school abroad in addition to fellowships or aid from the foreign school.
There are ways of taking federal aid money with you to graduate school in another country. The tricky part can be finding a school or program that will work with you to accomplish this. Many foreign schools do not have financial aid offices that help students in the way that they do in the United States. Therefore, since funding is set up to go through certain channels, it often becomes complicated when trying to move those funds in different directions.
There are more than 400 international institutions that already qualify for the Stafford Loan Program. You should investigate this list to see if the institution that interests you is there. Conversely, if you have not already selected a school, it may be worthwhile looking at the list of approved schools to see if they could meet your educational goals and needs. Obviously, with 400 schools on the list, there is a fair selection, but at the same time, there may be institutions that do not make the list that are a better fit for you.
Individual loan providers
There are also a number of individual loan providers that will work with students interested in studying abroad. However, if your chosen school is one that does not make the approved list for federal loans, it might not make the list for those loan providers either. For more information you will need to contact the student loan providers to learn their individual policies on using loans for graduate school abroad.
Further, there are a few programs for students seeking to complete their graduate education abroad that are designed to supplement or replace federal loans if they are either insufficient or unavailable. However, most recommend using Stafford Loans as the primary source of funding where available.
Different providers adopt different approaches to the difficulties of providing aid abroad. Some are willing to disburse funds directly to the borrower as long as the school is approved. Others are afraid students will decide an exotic vacation is superior to an education and refuse to disburse funds to anyone but a financial aid office or the equivalent. If your school of choice refuses to provide a channel for funds disbursement, these providers may refuse to give you the loans even if you would otherwise qualify.
Loan providers also frequently require a co-signer who will not be going abroad and who will remind the borrower that actually getting that education would be a much better idea than going on vacation. The requirement of a co-signer is often linked to the amount of the loan; smaller amounts do not always require a co-signer but larger amounts frequently do.
Overall, there is a good possibility that if you want to go to graduate school in a foreign country, there is funding from some source available. Given that financial aid policies vary widely from school to school, the most practical thing to do is start looking for schools, then talk to your contact or the financial aid office or equivalent at those schools. These people will be able to provide the specific details of what they can do to help you.
If you have already selected a school, you can also start investigating the traditional channels for graduate school financial aid and figure out which will allow you to use the funds abroad. Once again this can vary widely, so the only way to figure out what is available is to research the specifics.
All that legwork will feel worthwhile when you are attending a graduate school abroad!
Photo by chrisdlugosz