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Receive Federal Financial Aid? Apply it towards study abroad!
If you receive federal financial aid you may be eligible to apply some of it towards your study abroad program expenses. UIC’s Student Financial Aid and Scholarships Office can help you determine how much aid you may have available to you. If you have any questions, we highly encourage you to make an appointment with Hua Kao, Assistant Director of the Student Financial Aid and Scholarships Office. Here are some quick tips about using federal financial aid to study abroad:
- File a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – even if you think you might not receive much aid. Studying abroad can change your cost of attendance for the term in which you study abroad and you may qualify for aid you typically don’t receive. Don’t miss out on knowing what aid may be available to you!
- Receive a Pell grant? Let us know! Students who receive a Pell grant may have access to additional funding resources specific to study abroad, such as the Gilman International Scholarship. In addition, some of our study abroad program partners will provide a Pell match or have specialized scholarships available to eligible or qualified students. Make sure you find out if you are Pell eligible from the Student Financial Aid and Scholarship Office and let your study abroad advisor know so we can help connect you to additional resources.
- Consider differences between financial aid for a semester program versus a summer program. Financial aid during the summer can be much more limited than it is during the semester, so keep this in mind when considering program costs and funding. Additionally, there is a maximum amount of aid you can receive per academic year, so you want to make sure you have aid available to use when you study abroad, especially for summer. If you don’t need to use all of your aid from one semester, then you may be able to use it towards eligible expenses in another semester.
- Remember minimum credit enrollment requirements. In order to maintain financial aid eligibility during a semester, undergraduates and professional students must be enrolled in at least 6 credit hours; graduate students must be enrolled for at least 5 credit hours. Please note that certain financial aid awards may require you to maintain enrollment in higher credit levels, please consult with the Student Financial Aid and Scholarships Office for details.
There is no additional FAFSA application for summer; all degree-seeking students with a FAFSA on file for the current academic year who enroll in summer courses will be considered. Undergraduate/graduate students must be enrolled in at least 5 credit hours while professional students must be enrolled in at least 6 credit hours.
- Plan a budget with your advisor. During your Program Advising Appointment, you will review the program costs with your study abroad advisor along with items not included in the program fee to determine your overall budget. This budget will allow your cost of attendance to be reassessed by the Student Financial Aid and Scholarships office and you may qualify for aid you otherwise don’t receive. You can then see how this compares to your cost of attendance at UIC
Process for Applying Financial Aid Towards Study Abroad:
If you plan on receiving financial aid (grants and/or loans), it is your responsibility to make the necessary arrangements prior to your departure, but we are here to help! Follow these steps to apply financial aid towards your program:
- Meet with the Assistant Director of the Office of Financial Aid. Once you have selected a specific study abroad program, your SAO advisor will create a budget that will be sent to the Financial Aid Office. You should make an appointment with the Assistant Director of the Office of Financial Aid, Hua Kao, to discuss your financial aid package in relation to your term abroad.
- Check your student account for aid disbursement. Your financial aid will be disbursed directly into your student account, typically about 10 days prior to the start of each term. After going towards paying off any charges on your student account, any excess aid will be issued to you as a refund from the Bursar’s office, typically within 5-7 business days after aid disbursement. You can then use those funds to help pay your expenses associated with your study abroad program, including program fees, airfare, books and supplies etc. Ensure that you have completed all paperwork required by the Office of Financial Aid for on-time disbursement of funds. If your program fee balance is due before you receive financial aid, you should obtain a financial aid disbursement letter from the Financial Aid Office. This letter will indicate what types and amounts of financial aid you are expected to receive. It is then your responsibility to submit the letter to your program sponsor to see if they will accept it and adjust your program fee due date.
- Complete Financial Aid and Scholarships Agreement Form. You will need to complete and return the Study Abroad Agreement form to the Assistant Director of the Office of Financial Aid, Hua Kao. Without this form, your Financial Aid application will be considered incomplete.