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Norway: Lifting restrictions on student loans and grants for studies in USA

Norwegian students will be eligible for student loans and grants for their studies in the USA. According to the budget proposal for 2014, the Norwegian loan and grant scheme will be extended to the first year of studies in the USA, allowing Norwegian students – in principle – to benefit from financial support for the whole duration of their degree.

Since 1985 Norwegian students would not receive financial support for the first year of their studies in the USA, as the first year at American universities was not seen equivalent in requirements to the first year of studies at Norwegian universities. Consequently, Norwegian students would only receive financial support from their second year of studies in the USA onwards. The Association of Norwegian Students Abroad (ANSA) lobbied strongly for a reversal of this policy, arguing that the restrictions imposed were unjustified and would create a burden for those who could not afford the first year of their studies in the USA without financial support. Although the number of Norwegian students in the USA for degree studies decreased by 28 % over the last 20 years, ANSA remained persistent in its lobbying attempts, as for instance with its campaign Yes we candy. The USA is currently the third most popular study destination for degree studies with 1 650 Norwegian students, behind Denmark with 2 791 and the UK with 4 657 Norwegian students in 2012/13.

The Norwegian government lifted restrictions on eligibility for student loans and grants in 2012 for universities which were ranked among the Times Higher Education Rankings, the Shanghai Rankings or the QS World University Rankings, but still refused to extend the new regulation to the USA. At the latest since then, the restrictions imposed on studies in the USA became barely tenable. The budget proposal was issued by the Jens Stoltenberg government, but is likely to be accepted by the new Erna Solberg government. In the so called Sundvolden declaration the new governing parties Høyre and Fremskrittspartiet already called for a removal of the restrictions for loan and grants eligibility during the freshman year at US universities.

Meanwhile, ANSA is celebrating and US recruiting agencies are probably rubbing their hands in glee, as the USA might become a more interesting study destination for Norwegian students in the future.

Norwegian budget proposal for education 2014 (in Norwegian)

Lånekassen - Norwegian students abroad (in Norwegian)

ANSA (in Norwegian)

Sundvolden declaration (in Norwegian)