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Loans & Financing Options

Whether you borrow federal student loans or are considering other options to help with your expected family contribution, there are a variety of loan options available to help finance your study abroad payments. You can find additional information on the Undergraduate Financial Aid website.

Student loans may be offered as part of your study abroad financial aid package, most commonly to help make up for work-study funds you cannot earn while abroad. Loans offered for study abroad are usually subsidized, which means they don't accrue interest while you're enrolled at least half-time or during a grace period after you leave school. You may also have unsubsidized loan eligibility to help cover additional costs.

Things to Keep in Mind

Don't borrow more than you need

Loans might be helping to cover your flight, living expenses, or other costs you might be able to manage on your own. Many students find that they are able to live more inexpensively than expected abroad, so you might discover that you don't need to borrow as much as you were offered. You may also be able to return unused loan funds at the end of the term if you borrowed more than you needed.

Apply for study abroad scholarships

Outside scholarships can help cover your costs so you might not need to borrow as much (or at all) to study abroad.

Manageable in repayment

Federal student loans tend to be affordable and manageable in repayment, especially if your loan for study abroad is the only one you'll borrow while at Northwestern.

Know what you'll owe

Federal loans have a number of repayment options and timelines, including income-driven plans that base your payment due on a set percentage of your income. Use student loan calculators to figure out how much you might owe after leaving school.

You can make early payments

If you are able to make even small payments while you are still in school, you could even pay your loan(s) off before you graduate.

Good debt

Education loans are generally considered "good" debt and can help you get a jump start on building strong credit for after college.

Talk to a financial aid counselor

They can help you review your study abroad costs, financial aid, and scholarship options, and help you work out a budget of how much you might actually need to borrow for your program.

If you are borrowing loans, especially for the first time, it is also important that you accept your loans on CAESAR and complete any loan applications and requirements on your To Do List. You can read more about loan options on the Undergraduate Financial Aid website.

If your study abroad financial aid award does not include a loan and you are considering borrowing, be sure to contact financial aid to ensure that you are exploring/exhausting your federal options first.

Schedule an appointment


For students or parents borrowing the Federal PLUS Loan, the NU Parent Loan, or private education loans, Northwestern may be able to certify your loan for your study abroad program's cost of attendance and/or disburse funds unevenly for the quarter(s) you are abroad, if necessary. After you have applied for your loan (usually in the summer), contact to inquire about this option and to make sure your loan will cover your costs.