Financial Aid & Study Abroad

Cal Poly degree-seeking students may be eligible for financial aid if enrolled at least half-time (6 units per term for an undergraduate) in a Cal Poly study abroad program. Financial aid is not available for independent study abroad programs (non-Cal Poly programs).

Financial aid is applicable to:

  • Cal Poly-Global Programs. These programs offer Cal Poly classes with Cal Poly faculty. Students receive resident credit and financial aid is applicable.  
  • CSU International Programs - the system-wide, academic year-long overseas study program.  Students receive resident credit, and all financial aid applies.
  • Cal Poly International Exchanges - arranged through Colleges or Departments to a variety of universities around the world.  Students receive transfer credit and all financial aid is applicable.
  • National Student Exchange (NSE) - a consortium of 200 partnering institutions within the U.S., Canada, and our Territories.  Students receive transfer credit and all financial aid is applicable.
  • Cal Poly Partner Programs - organizations administering study abroad programs with Cal Poly (i.e. CEA, DIS, EARTH, TEAN, CIEE, and USAC). Federal financial aid applies (i.e. Pell Grant, Stafford Loans and PLUS Loans) and students receive transfer credit for these programs. State University Grant and Cal Grant are not applicable.
  • For summer study abroad programs, financial aid is limited to remaining eligibility (student and PLUS loan).   

Investigate to see if additional resources are available

  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at
  • Upon request, the standard financial aid budget may be increased to reflect reasonable additional costs associated with your specific study abroad program (including fees, airfare, etc.) with documentation from the program.
  • Typically, students are awarded additional loan funds (Stafford or PLUS loan) to assist with the cost of a program, not grant aid.
  • NOTE: PLUS loan is a credit-based loan. A parent must apply and be approved for the loan at If he/she is unable to be approved due to poor credit, the student may be eligible to receive additional unsubsidized Stafford loan.


Financial aid is refunded when Cal Poly’s quarters begin regardless of a study abroad program’s start date.

  • Prior approval from the program supervisor or program provider is required to defer program payment until funds are released.
  • Eligibility for aid is not confirmed and cannot disburse until all required documents are received and reviewed. See your ‘To Do List’.
  • Once financial aid has been finalized, funds will disburse on or about the first day of each quarter.  It is your responsibility to budget accordingly. 
  • Upon disbursement, the Student Accounts Office (SAO) receives grant, scholarship, and/or loan disbursements, pays any outstanding Cal Poly balance and refunds remaining funds to the student.
  • If you have Direct Deposit (the recommended method), the amount is directly deposited into a personal bank account. It is the student’s responsibility to pay any study abroad program fees directly to the study abroad agency with their refund.
  • It is highly recommended that all students complete a FERPA (privacy release) before departing, in the event you wish to allow someone (ex., a parent) to discuss your account on your behalf. The FERPA form can be found on the Financial Aid Forms link.

NOTE: The Financial Aid Office does not sign financial aid disbursement forms for Cal Poly Partner Programs (i.e. CEA, GlobaLinks).  The student needs to accept any loans they wish to borrow, complete the form, and provide a copy of their Financial Aid Award Letter, which can be printed from their Cal Poly Student Center (Click: View Financial Aid, 2018, Print Award Letter) and send both to their program directly. If requesting a budget increase, they should wait until the increase is reflected in their award before printing the award letter.

Study Abroad & Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

The federal government mandates that every financial aid student be subject to Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) guidelines in order to continue to receive financial aid. Cal Poly students are required to complete a minimum of 75% of units attempted for the preceding academic year, maintain a cumulative 2.0 GPA (cumulative 3.0 for graduate students) and to complete degree requirements in 18 terms or less.  SAP is reviewed annually at the end of spring term for the proceeding summer, fall, winter, and spring. Students who fail to meet SAP requirements are not eligible for financial aid for the subsequent award year.

Work completed from study abroad is subject to SAP requirements. Students who study abroad and are receiving transfer credit have until the end of the following summer to have transcripts sent to and evaluated by Cal Poly. If transcripts have not been received, or have been received but not yet reviewed at the end of summer, students will be SAP disqualified for fall. Students may appeal their SAP disqualification status by turning in an SAP Appeal Form, completing the requirements in Section A, and explaining their mitigating circumstance.

For more information, see the Satisfactory Academic Progress policy:



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