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US students: How to use FAFSA for a degree in Europe

18/03/2022

If you are a US student, you may be eligible for financial support through the FAFSA programme, making it substantially easier to finance your studies abroad. Learn all about how it works:

What is FAFSA?

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FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the Federal Student Aid process run by the US Department of Education. fast payday loans online Every academic year, thousands upon thousands of US students and US permanent residents complete FAFSA forms to see if they are eligible for grants (meaning, free money) and/or loans (which you must pay back) for higher education options.

Can I use FAFSA to get a degree abroad?

Yes, you can use FAFSA to get a degree abroad! Around 750 institutions abroad, and of those around 600 in Europe, are approved by the US Department of Education to use FAFSA loans abroad or to defer other study loan payments.

Which universities abroad are eligible for FAFSA?

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Whether or not foreign universities are accepted for FAFSA is decided by the US Department of Education. The official list of recognised international schools is updated every quarter:

Do FAFSA grants and loans work abroad?

There are a lot of different types of financial aid, some of which will work abroad and some not. Grants (i.e. Pell grants) are not eligible abroad, however, nearly 600 institutions in Europe are approved for US students to use their FAFSA loan awards to pay for the degree abroad, or at least to defer study loan payments.

Loans can be federal (either subsidized or unsubsidized) or private. Federal loans generally have a more favorable interest rate than private loans.

Federal loans: Subsidized federal student loans are loans in which the U.S. government pays the interest on the loan while you are studying at a university, whereas an unsubsidized student loan’s interest is always your responsibility even while attending university. To qualify for a subsidized federal loan, you must demonstrate financial need, while unsubsidized federal loans do not require demonstration of financial need. Direct Plus Loans are federal loans that graduate students or parents of dependent undergraduate students can use to help pay for university.

Private Loans: In contrast, private loans usually have higher interest rates and may be more expensive to pay back, so where possible try to use federal loans. As a best practice for any loan you agree to take, always inquire regarding the interest rate and terms of repayment, so there are no surprises later.

Can I defer loan payments while getting a Master’s degree abroad?

If your university abroad is FAFSA eligible or if it appears on the deferment only category, you should be able to defer most student loan payments while you work on a graduate degree, assuming you follow all guidelines.

However, check in advance with your loan servicer to confirm. Also, inquire if you are required to pay any interest during the time of deferment/forbearance, as each type of loan has a different repayment policy.

Which are the best FAFSA-eligible universities in Europe?

Europe is home to some of the world’s leading universities, and many of them are eligible for FAFSA. To find the best institutions, have a look at the Times Higher Education rankings (THE), the QS rankings, or the US News Best Global Universities.

A good rule of thumb (if rankings are important to you) is that your university should appear in the top 750 overall and/or within the top ranking within your academic field.

Here is a smattering of the top universities in Europe, along with their FAFSA status (approved for loans, or approved only for loan deferment):

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