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Financial Aid & Loans

If you're a student interested in education abroad, you may wish to consider the possibility of financial aid (like grants and scholarships, which don't need to be repaid) and loans (which do need to be repaid) to fund your education abroad.


Before applying for any other financial aid, 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:

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)
  • Federal College Work Study
  • Federal Stafford Loans
  • Federal Perkins Loan
  • Michigan Competitive Scholarship
  • Various MSU-funded grants, including the Student Aid Grant 

To qualify to apply with the FAFSA form, you must:

  • be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • be registered with Selective Service (if required)
  • be enrolled in an eligible program
  • be making satisfactory academic progress
  • not owe a refund on a Federal grant or be in default on Federal educational loan 


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 program dates.

Summer Semester

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. 

You can apply electronically at or visit the Office of Financial Aid on campus at 252 Student Services. 

Applying Financial Aid to Your Education Abroad Program

If you indicate on your education abroad application that you plan to use financial aid, the Office of Education Abroad will forward a Financial Aid Approval Form that includes all anticipated costs to the MSU Office of Financial Aid for processing.

Financial aid funds are applied first to your tuition & fees charge, then to your program fee. If there isn't enough money to cover both charges, you're responsible for paying the difference. If there is more than enough money, the remainder will be issued to you.

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 education abroad experience.

Initial Out-of-Pocket Costs

The cost of your airfare can be included in your financial aid package, but you'll receive your airline bill from the travel agency or airline before your financial aid funds are released. You'll also have to pay the $200 deposit before your financial aid is disbursed. You'll need to make arrangements to pay these bills in advance. MSU students who may have problems covering these payments can contact the MSU Office of Financial Aid (517-353-5940) for short-term loan options.

For students participating in First-Year Seminars Abroad (FSAs) during the summer before they enter MSU, fall financial aid applies to their program but their funds will not be disbursed until ten (10) days before the first day of fall semester. 

Students Already Receiving Financial Aid

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 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. 


Subsidized loans are need-based and interest is paid by the government during the in-school period; unsubsidized loans are non-need based and interest is paid by the student. Loans need to be repaid, unlike scholarships and grants.

Students who don't qualify for need-based grants (or the need-based Subsidized Federal Stafford Loan) can apply for the non-need based Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan.

Alternative Student Loans and Parent Loans (PLUS)

If your financial aid award doesn't cover the cost of your program, you may also consider Alternative Student Loans and Parent Loans (PLUS). These loans usually have higher interest rates but allow you to borrow up to the amount of your educational costs, minus any financial aid.

Enrollment Requirements for Financial Aid & Loans

For scholarships and grants you need to maintain the enrollment level required for each aid program listed on your award letter.

Enrollment level required for Stafford Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan eligibility for all semesters is at least half-time. For undergraduates half-time is 6-8 credits; 3⁄4 time is 9–11 credits; and full-time is 12 credits. The Office for Education 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, 3⁄4 time or full-time), it's your responsibility to report this change to the Office of Financial Aid.

Some other 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, check Citiassist Loans for funding support or the MSU Office of Financial Aid for award details.