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5 Ways Loans Can Make or Break Your Study Abroad

(Photo by www.leidenandleiden.com)

I’ve been in Dallas for a little over 2 years now and have decided to make this awesome Texan town my permanent home. House shopping comes with so many decisions and giving away of all your personal information for various credit checks. I was pretty pampered during my college years in that my parents gave me an older car and helped out with paying for college so that I had minimal student loans. These were huge financial reliefs to a 22 year old student but it also didn’t give me the opportunity to build much credit. Here’s something that I’ve really learned after college- credit is EVERYTHING. It determines how much your credit card limit will be; what kind of apartment you can rent without a co-signer; what type of car you can buy; and how big a loan you can get for a home.

Set of color credit cards(photo by www.consumeraffairs.com)

The only real thing that has built up my credit is my student loans. I have a love/hate relationship with student loans. They have come back to bite me in the derrière a few times during my college career and afterwards. During college, I didn’t know to alert my student loan companies about my study abroad – a fun fact that would’ve been really useful to know. I figured that since my student loan companies wouldn’t cover my study abroad as it wasn’t federally accredited, I was in the clear. I found out about 6 months into it that my parents were receiving student loan bills. My home university un-enrolled me as I was going through an outside study abroad program. This new un-enrolled status was given to the loan companies who wanted their money back because they thought I was no longer in college. I didn’t know it then but this confusion with my enrollment status during my junior year of college would come back to bite me years later when looking for a home. I have very good credit but it isn’t as awesome as it could be. I never understood why my credit didn’t break the 700s threshold until house shopping. A potential lender ran an in-depth credit report and advised me that there is a negative hit against my credit from 2008 due to non-payment. This was the 2nd half of my year in France and it coincided perfectly with the student loan debacle. I had no idea that the mix-up with the loans during my time abroad would impact my credit and for this long! This news inspired me to write about the 5 ways loans can make (or break) your study abroad experience.

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(photo by blog.ncarb.org)

1-     Loans can help pay for the tuition and the home stay living arrangement. That’s 10s of thousands of dollars that you don’t have to come up with sur le champ. Make

2-     If your study abroad program is not federally accredited, your US federal loan (which are a majority of loans) won’t cover your study abroad which means that you need to use a private loan (say hello to higher interest rates) or pay cash. Make and Break

3-     Your credit may be affected negatively in the future if you’re not able to use loans and forget to provide your loan companies proof of your study abroad. Break

4-     Loans don’t cover living expenses so you’ll still need to save up for your time abroad. Break

5-     Loans add an extra step in the study abroad process which when they cover your study abroad is a great help but it’s also an additional stress and element to coordinate for the preparation for this experience. Make and Break

loan4(Don’t let student loans break you! Photo by www.flickr.com)

Student loans are a very useful tool in helping to fund your study abroad experience. But they need extra consideration during the preparation stages to make sure that they are working for you and not against you. Your study abroad experience may not be as long as your entire college career but it’s enough to impact your credit and future purchases. Learn from my mistake and get your loan situation in order BEFORE you go abroad. Your future will appreciate it!

  
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Are you a part of Generation Study Abroad?

(All photos by IIE)

A few weekends ago, I went to San Antonio to meet some fellow study abroad enthusiasts at the ACTFL (American Council for Teaching Foreign Language) conference. It was a great conference and I had the pleasure to connect with many passionate, global focused individuals. My favorite part of the conference was meeting Stacie Berdan and the IIE (Institute of International Education) group and attending their panel discussion about Generation Study Abroad. Generation study abroad is an initiative created by IIE to increase global competence among American students through a global centric educational curriculum which focuses on studying abroad. One of the ways they hope to achieve this is to increase the number of American students studying abroad. At first glance, it may seem that IIE is just trying to boost numbers for the sake of getting results but this couldn’t be father from the truth.

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The focus on increasing the amount of students going abroad is about ensuring every future American worker is on the same level of global preparedness. For years, the world came to the United States to do business so everyone else had to learn English. But things have changed. We have become more globalized and we’re finding that we have to speak other people’s languages now in order to remain competitive in business. But becoming global isn’t just a money thing; it’s also a great way to help keep our nation safe, make and keep new allies, and become more accepting and innovating individuals. By being global, we can find allies easier due to already knowing which cultures/countries share our same cultural values and have ease in communication / interaction with them by knowing their language and customs; we can keep our country safe by knowing what countries don’t share our values through global education; we learn how to work with others’ differences and not judge them because they are different; and we can be more innovative due to our experience with other cultures and knowing different ways to do things.

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Increasing the amount of students going abroad is only a part of the global pie; the other major part is adequately preparing students to go abroad. Preparation starts here at home. I’m on board (and super pleased) with IIE’s goal to work with study abroad programs to stop marketing study abroad as a vacation with the occasional class in between trips and to show it for what it is; an educational, professional and personal growth opportunity while immersing into another language and culture. Twenty In Paris joined Generation study abroad to boldly go where study abroad has never gone before. Are you with us?