One of the most difficult aspects of studying abroad is the cost. The cost of studying abroad is often what keeps students from taking advantage of the amazing opportunity. When you decide to study abroad, you open yourself up to new experiences that will continue to shape and influence your life for years after your trip.
You will have the chance to explore foreign cities, live on your own, meet new people, eat new foods, and learn about a new culture firsthand. You also will be able to study and learn from professors and other students that you would not have met otherwise.
Don't throw monetary caution to the wind, however, in pursuit of the perfect trip abroad. Create a budget and research methods to cover at least a portion of your costs. There are many forms of financial aid of which you can take advantage.
For some students, financial aid for studying abroad may be in the form of scholarships and grants. For others, financial aid for international students means applying for loans.
As a student, you may not be excited about the idea of applying for an international student loan. It will undoubtedly be worth it, however, when you consider that the loan will contribute to furthering your education, your future career, and your personal growth.
Why Apply for an International Student Loan?
For many students traveling abroad, loans are a necessity. And for many of those same students, the thought of adding more loans to an already increasing number is not worth it. However, before completely rejecting the option of applying for an international student loan, consider the advantages of studying abroad:
Studying abroad means you are placing yourself in a new culture and environment, which equates to new history, new places, new people, and new beliefs. Embrace these new things and learn from them.
- Future Career Benefits: One of the most cited reasons for studying abroad is that it looks great on your resume. While having that experience listed on your resume does look great, it certainly is not the only way studying abroad helps your future career. When you study abroad, you are taking a risk, and you are sure to meet challenges along the way. Those challenges may be communication-based or involve learning time management: how to balance your coursework with a desire to explore. These types of daily challenges will be valuable in almost any career. Generally workplaces value good communication and time-management skills. The study abroad experience also shows potential employers that you are self-motivated and know how to solve problems on your own and creatively.
- Educational Benefits: The educational benefits of studying abroad are almost endless. If nothing else, studying abroad provides you with the opportunity to study under distinguished professors to whom you normally would not have access. Also, because the other students around you are from different cultures, they have different views and thoughts on the world, which influences classroom discussions. By participating in these classroom discussions you stand to learn new things, which may even change your opinions on certain issues and topics. The other major educational benefit to studying abroad is that not all learning happens in the classroom. Those classroom discussions with your classmates could morph into hours-long conversations at a nearby cafe. Studying abroad means you are placing yourself in a new culture and environment, which equates to new history, new places, new people, and new beliefs. Embrace these new things and learn from them.
- Personal Benefits: For many students, the personal benefits of studying abroad—like becoming more independent, traveling, learning a new culture, and meeting new people—are the only reasons they need to study abroad. These reasons are only a few that students will discover during study abroad. Every study abroad experience is unique to the student, each will get out of it what he or she puts into it. This means that to truly obtain personal benefits you must put yourself out there, explore, and engage with your new community. Maintain an open mind throughout.
Where to Find International Student Loans
Some international students may be discouraged from using loans by the perceived challenge of finding and applying for one. Fortunately the process is relatively painless, and there are plenty of international student loans available. Here are some helpful ways to get started and some sources of loans for studying abroad:
Before applying for a bank loan consider the interest rate. Bank loans frequently charge higher interest rates, and you will be required to pay them off sooner than other types of loans.
- Financial Aid Offices: One of the best resources for financing your study abroad experience is the financial aid offices of both your current school and your study abroad school. These offices can help you find all forms of financial aid for international students including grants, scholarships, and loans. While most schools do not actually provide loans, the financial aid offices at these schools can help you find loan options and apply for them.
- Study Abroad Offices: Besides the financial aid offices, your current school and possibly your study abroad school should have an international or study abroad office. The people in the offices are there to help those who wish to study abroad. They will have resources to help you find programs, transition to a new culture, and help you find the financial aid you need. The study abroad office will be able to point you in the direction of appropriate places to look for international loans.
- Banks: One of the most common places for any student to obtain a loan is through a bank. Banks provide regular and international student loans. Before applying for a bank loan consider the interest rate. Bank loans frequently charge higher interest rates, and you will be required to pay them off sooner than other types of loans.
- Study Abroad Organizations: Some study abroad organizations like Envisage International Corporation provide support to students hoping to study abroad by helping them compare different loans. There are several ways for you to find and locate loans on their International Student Loan website. If you are coming to the U.S. to study, use the Compare Student Loans box on the homepage. If you are going to be traveling outside of the U.S. to study abroad, use the Envisage list of eligible non-U.S. schools.
- Higher Education Lending Institutions: There are money-lending institutions like Sallie Mae that exist to help students pay for higher education. Depending on the eligibility of the school you will be attending while abroad, you can apply for a student loan from these institutions and in many cases they will cover up to 100 percent of the tuition. Use caution to understand all requirements, interest rates, and payback options before applying for the loan.
Regardless of where a loans originates, pay attention to the interest rates, the loan amount, and the repayment schedule. Some loans have high interest rates that increase over time. Other loans are required to be paid off quickly once school is done. Look for loans with reasonable interest rates and easy repayment plans.
The cost of studying abroad should not be the factor preventing you from studying in a foreign country. Studying abroad is a wonderful opportunity. Financial aid for international students is not hard to find, you just have to be willing to put the time and effort into finding the loan you need and filling out applications.
Studying abroad is about discovering new places, meeting new people, enhancing your education, and learning about yourself. Don't let prohibitive cost prevent you from having this invaluable learning experience. Take advantage of the many international student loan options to arrive at your dream study destination.