Financial Aid Overview

If you are eligible to receive financial aid, you’ll need to be enrolled at an accredited institution in order to access the funds using one of two options:

  1. Through a consortium agreement
  2. Through our partnership with Portland State University

In order to access financial aid that you’re eligible for, you’ll need to choose one of the two options below. Both options will require work on your part and you’ll need to complete all steps/requirements to successfully receive your financial aid.

Semester and Quarter Credits
CCS study abroad is based on the semester system whereas Portland State University is based on the quarter system. This means 12 semester credits are equivalent to 18 quarter credits, a 1.0 to 1.5 ratio. This arrangement allows students from both university systems to better interpret credits for transfer. In both systems, full time enrollment status is achieved. For CCS summer programs 9 semester credits will equal 12 quarter credits.

We’re more than happy to assist you in any way possible; just ask for help at,

Consortium Agreement

If you’re currently a student at a college/university setting up a Consortium Agreement between your college/university and CCS/PSU might be an option. Consortium agreements include a “home” institution (your college/university) and a “host” institution (Portland State University/CCS). The advantage of the consortium agreement is that you remain a current student at your college/university and receive financial aid in the same way that you currently are. Consortium agreements typically include pre-approval of credit transfer too. In order to see if this is a viable option for you, you’ll want to connect with the Study Abroad/International Programs office at your college/university and ask them about setting up a “Consortium Agreement.”

Portland State University

One way to gain financial assistance is to enroll as a full time student at Portland State University (CCS’s partner university). Once you are formally admitted to PSU you can apply for financial aid using the FAFSA.

CCS students are able to access financial aid through our partnership with Portland State University. If you’re not currently a student at a college/university or your college/university is unable to set up a consortium agreement, you will need to be admitted to Portland State University in order to access financial aid.

PSU Financial Aid Basics

Submit the FAFSA
This stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. If you’re in the boat of needing financial assistance for college, this is the most common way to qualify for financial help. The FAFSA website,, will counsel you through the process, but basically you’ll need your parents’ completed taxes (or your own if nobody else claims you as a ‘dependent’ on their taxes) to fill out the FAFSA form online. It does account for a variety of circumstances - everything from multiple children in college to your mortgage - and will spit out a number called the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). At the end of the FAFSA form it will ask you which colleges or universities you want it sent to. You will want to have it sent to every school you’re considering attending next year, including Portland State University. The Estimated Family Contribution is the federal government’s estimate of how much you and your family can contribute to college. Colleges use this number to determine how much financial aid you’re eligible for. 

How does PSU award financial aid?

PSU subtracts your EFC from their typical undergraduate Cost of Attendance (COA), and then determines how much is left over. The amount left over is your unmet need. PSU can then award you grants and loans to cover a portion of this unmet need.

Financial Aid Resources

CCS has compiled a few resources to help guide you through the financial aid process. Below you’ll find information on accessing financial aid, grants, scholarships, loans, and a few other sources of funding.

Grants vs. Loans

The easiest way to think of this is that grants don’t need to be repaid, whereas loans do need to repaid. Most education loans have very favorable interest rates, don’t require repayment until you’ve stopped attending school for 6 months, and are flexible to repayment allowing for all sorts of eventualities ranging from an economic hardship deferment, to a forbearance.

What types of grants and loans could I be eligible for?

  • Pell Grant
  • This is a grant for students with a low EFC. A student who is eligible automatically has this grant applied to their balance. In 2014, the maximum Pell grant any student can receive for a full academic year of study is $5,730. Those funds are typically distributed according to the academic calendar and at the beginning of every term. 

  • Stafford Loan
  • Direct Stafford Loans, are low-interest loans for eligible students to help cover the cost of higher education. Eligible students borrow directly from the U.S. Department of Education at participating schools. In 2014, the maximum allowable amount for a Stafford Loan per academic year is $5,500 for dependent freshman (or up to $9,500 for independent freshman). For sophomores that number jumps up to $6,500/$10,500 and for juniors up to $7,500/$12,500. 

  • Federal Perkins Loan
  • Perkins loans are also needs-based federal loans disbursed through the schools just like a Stafford Loan. In 2014, the maximum per year allowed in a Perkins Loan is $1,950 for Oregon residents and $3,900 for non-residents. 

  • Parent PLUS Loan
  • This is a loan that parents can obtain to help pay the cost of education for their dependent undergraduate children. Parents must apply separately for PLUS loans and qualify based on credit (PSU does not award these). In addition, graduate and professional degree students may obtain PLUS Loans to help pay for their own education. 

Other loan lingo to know:

  • Direct Loans
  • Eligible students and parents borrow Direct Loans directly from the U.S. Department of Education at participating schools. Direct Loans include subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, and Direct Consolidation Loans. You repay these loans directly to the U.S. Department of Education. 

  • Unsubsidized vs. Subsidized Loans
  • Interest starts accruing from the date when an unsubsidized loan is released. For subsidized loans, interested doesn’t start accruing until you start repaying the loans or once you have your degree. 

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. If you are 18 years or older your personal information is private, including any information regarding your education. Without the completion of this form, your parents will not be able to access any information about your education, including your bill, inquiring about grades, credits, or signing for loans while you’re abroad, etc. At any point you can revoke your FERPA Release form, and it WILL be helpful while you are abroad to allow your parents access to your records. 

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