FAFSA for Overseas

I was reluctant to start applying for financial aid until I heard back from all of my schools. I finally got tired of waiting and told the final school I was waiting on, Exeter, that I wasn’t interested. I gave a firm yes to Durham, and applied for financial aid.

I did this through FAFSA, and was able to select the school I’m going to. It’s been a very confusing process so far. I did this back in March (maybe February?) and they only just got back to me a few days ago.

The email was from Durham, but I think the loans I’m applying for are from the US. It’s very perplexing. They sent me an Excel spreadsheet to figure out how much it’ll cost for me to go to school and for what loans I’m eligible for. The spreadsheet covered everything from tuition to a new computer and printer to toiletries. Since I plan on working while I’m over there, I put down zero for the cost of everything except for tuition. My total translated to $25,245 for the year.

I qualify for Subsidized loans (up to $3,500), up to $6,000 in Unsubsidized loans, and the rest for Parent PLUS loans.

Now, I had no idea what this meant, so I had to look it up and have a co-worker in the Writing Center help me out.

Subsidized Loans are loans that don’t begin accruing interest until after the student graduates.

Unsubsidized Loans are loans that begin accruing interest right away.

PLUS Loans are for parents of dependent students and graduate students.

The latter doesn’t apply to me, since I’m nearly 30, making me far too old to be dependent. The other two loans just simply scare me. Part of it is because I’m working 63 hour work weeks and suffering regular back pain (I’m having sciatic nerve pain as I sit and write this now) so that I can crawl out of debt before I go to University. The other part of it is knowing that I’ll be adding 4.5% interest on $6k right away, and another 6% interest on $16+k right away, and that’s just for one year. It’s kind of terrifying.

I emailed the school and asked what my options were. They suggested looking into Sallie Mae, which I have yet to do. The email said:

If the Parent PLUS is not an option for you, you can try Sallie Mae private loans. We don’t advice students on private loans, so you would have to check with Sallie Mae directly the eligibility. Most likely as an Undergraduate student you would need an endorser to apply for loans but it’s worth to check exactly. Sadly, there is very limited support available to international undergraduate students.

This wasn’t particularly helpful, as it raised a few questions:

  • If Sallie Mae is private loans, that why am I being recommended to go through them but also advised not to go through private loans?
  • What is an endorser?
  • How do I become endorsed?

I’ll try and find out what I can from this Sallie Mae deal, and go from there. It’s all very quite perplexing.


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