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FAQs Concerning Financial Aid for Study Abroad

Is Financial Aid available for studying abroad?

Students interested in studying abroad may wish to consider the possibility of obtaining Financial Aid (generally including loans) to assist in funding a study abroad program. Students who do not qualify for need-based grants and the need-based Subsidized Federal Stafford Loan may wish to utilize the non-need based Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan.

It's helpful to remember that loans need to be paid back. The subsidized loan is need-based and interest is paid by the government during the in-school period; the unsubsidized loan is non-need based and interest is paid by the student.

Before applying to a study abroad program, check the program's information sheet and the Office of Study Abroad Web site for program expenses. In addition to the program fee, consider the cost of tuition and fees, airfare, passport, visa, immunizations, and spending money. The Office of Study Abroad can provide you with a breakdown of all estimated expenses. While the amount of your aid may be increased due to the additional costs involved in studying abroad (flight, cost of living, etc.), do not assume you will be awarded 100% of the money needed to cover the costs of your program. Always seek additional or alternative sources of funding.

If I currently receive financial aid, does that mean I would receive financial aid for study abroad?

Yes, students can usually apply their financial aid (including loans) to assist in covering the cost of studying abroad. Current financial aid recipients normally file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the renewal FAFSA yearly, eliminating the necessity to do another one. Make sure your FAFSA is up-to-date for the period when you wish to study abroad.

There are some scholarships, such as the Alumni Distinguished Scholarship (ADS), Distinguished Freshman Scholarship, MSU National Merit Scholarship, and National Merit Achievement Scholarship, which restrict awards for certain types of study abroad programs. Check with the Office of Admissions and Scholarships for details.

I've never applied for financial aid but would like to apply for study abroad. What do I do first?

You must fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form for the same academic period in which you plan to study abroad. The FAFSA is required to determine your eligibility for Pell Grant and other federal and state grants, federal loans (need-based and non-need-based), work-study, and many MSU grants and scholarships. Apply early as aid is awarded only until funding is exhausted.

The FAFSA is required for:

Am I qualified to apply for financial aid?

Everyone who meets the following requirements may apply with the FAFSA form:

When should I file the FAFSA?

The FAFSA is available after January 1 for the academic year beginning the following fall. As soon as possible after January 1 complete the FAFSA and return it to the federal processor. The FAFSA changes every year, so be sure you are filing the correct application for your period of attendance. Summer semester at MSU is considered part of the previous academic year (with the exception of summer Freshman Seminar programs which are considered fall semester programs). The proper FAFSA must be filed and the Office of Financial Aid must be notified that you wish to be considered for summer aid. Be sure to renew your application every year.

Where do I obtain a FAFSA form?

Apply electronicallyOpens in new window or visit the Office of Financial Aid at 252 Student Services.

How do I have financial aid applied to my study abroad program?

The study abroad application asks if you will be using your financial aid for study abroad and whether you have filed a FAFSA for the study abroad period. If you indicate on your application that you plan to use financial aid, the Office of Study Abroad will forward a Financial Aid Approval Form that includes all anticipated costs to the MSU Office of Financial Aid for processing.

The Office of Financial Aid will notify you directly of your award. You may be eligible to collect your maximum "Stafford Loan" annual award ($5,500 for dependent juniors and seniors) for the study abroad semester with the understanding that no funds will be available for the semester following your study abroad experience. If you find that your award does not adequately cover the cost of participation, you may wish to consider Alternative Student Loans and Parent Loans (PLUS)Opens in new window. Such loans tend to have higher interest rates but allow you to borrow up to the amount of your educational costs minus any financial aid resources. Once financial aid funds are available for disbursement, they will automatically be applied first to your tuition & fees charge then the remaining funds will be applied to your program fee. If there is NOT enough money to cover both charges, you are responsible for paying the difference. If there is MORE than enough money, the remainder will be issued to you.

The cost of your airfare can be included in your financial aid package, but you will receive your airline bill from the travel agency/airlines before your financial aid funds are released. You will also be required to pay the $200 deposit before your financial aid is disbursed. Therefore, you will need to make arrangements to pay these bills in advance. MSU students who foresee problems covering these payments should contact the MSU Office of Financial Aid (353-5940) for short-term loan options.

Students participating in Freshman Seminars Abroad during the summer before they enter MSU should know that while fall financial aid applies to their program, their funds will not be disbursed until ten (10) days before the first day of fall semester.

How many credits do I need to take to receive financial aid (including loans) for study abroad?

For scholarships and grants you need to maintain the enrollment level required for each aid program listed on your award letter. Credit level required for Stafford Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan eligibility for all semesters is at least half-time. For undergraduates half-time is 6-8 credits; ¾ time is 9-11 credits; and full-time is 12 credits. The Office of Study Abroad will report to the Office of Financial Aid the number of credits you indicated on your application. If you change this credit amount so that it changes your status (half-time, ¾ time or full-time), it is your responsibility to report this change to the Office of Financial Aid. Some loans require full-time enrollment, and in some cases part-time enrollment reduces eligibility. If you are a non-degree student or intend to enroll for less than half-time, information on private educational loans can be found at

Will Financial Aid for a study abroad program affect my next semester's aid?

Yes, it may . Upon notification of your financial aid award for the semester when you will study abroad, you may find it helpful to meet with a Financial Aid adviser if you have questions about funding for future semesters.

Will I lose any money if I cancel my plans due to funding concerns or a last minute change?

Yes, once you accept admission into a study abroad program, both the $100 application fee and the $200 deposit (if applicable) are non-refundable. If you have concerns about your potential financial aid award, contact the Office of Study Abroad before applying.