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Guide to Financial Aid for Study Abroad Programs

Grants, Student Loans, & Fellowships

You’ve decided to study abroad through the college you are attending. Yet, you aren’t so sure how you will afford it. There are many financial aid options for study abroad students. Whether you are an undergraduate or a graduate student accepting the challenge of studying abroad, financial aid is available to you. Work with a financial aid officer and a study abroad adviser to find the best options for you.

Study Abroad Program Highlights

Most study abroad programs are offered during the academic year, for a semester, or during the summer. Summer programs often times include internships, too.

Study abroad programs are offered at many colleges and universities. Each institute offers its own unique program, so it is important to speak with a study abroad adviser to know what programs are available. Things like destinations and time frame may differ between school programs, making it vital to find out all information before applying. Financial aid officers can help determine what financial aid options are available, since these may differ based on student classification (undergraduate vs. graduate).

In addition to the cost of the program itself, students should consider other costs. Other costs may include getting a passport, a visa, immunizations, airfare, meals, books, local transportation, insurance, and any incidentals. All these costs should be taken into consideration when determining the amount of financial assistance required.

Typically, study abroad programs offer one or more of these financial aid options: federal grants, federal loans, federal scholarships, other scholarships, or exchange programs. Most institutions do not, however, include work-study programs as a financial aid option for students studying abroad.

Federal Financial Aid Options

Study abroad financial aid starts with federal aid. Students seeking opportunities to study abroad should complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for federal aid.

Undergraduate students will also be considered for a Federal Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), and the Parent PLUS Loans for Undergraduate Students. Other federal financial aid options for all students includes federal loans, such as the Federal Stafford Loans, and the Federal Perkins Loan.

There are two federal scholarships also offered:

David L. Boren Undergraduate Scholarship for Study Abroad —this scholarship is federally-funded by the National Security Education Program (NSEP). Restrictions may apply.

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship —this scholarship is eligible to students who receive a Pell Grant.

Studying Abroad Scholarships

Study abroad students can also seek scholarships offered by a variety of organizations and sponsoring companies. Most study abroad scholarships are merit-based. There are many types of study abroad scholarships. Some scholarships focus on a destination (Australia), a discipline (foreign language), or time of year (summer).

Some examples of the various study abroad scholarships include:

AIFS International Scholarship—awarded to up to 40 students in the amount of $1,000 each. Awarded based on outstanding academic achievements. Applicants are required to submit an essay, and a $95 application fee.

AIFS Diversity Scholarship—this scholarship pays for 50% of the student’s program fees plus round trip airfare. Three runner-ups receive $2,000 in scholarship money each. Applicants must submit a $95 application fee to be considered.

DiversityAbroad.com Scholarship—partnered with AIFS to offer eight $1,000 scholarships to students studying abroad over the summer.

DiversityAbroad & Semester at Sea Scholarships—awarded for a voyage in summer, spring, or fall. Award pays for 50% of the cost of the least expensive cabin. Awards up to 5 voyages in the fall; up to 10 scholarships for summer voyages.

Study Abroad Turkey Scholarship for Minority Students—this scholarship awards $2,000 and $1,000 scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students who are planning to study abroad in Turkey or Cyprus. Applicants must be a minority to be considered; African-American, Native American, or Hispanic encouraged.

IES Abroad Melbourne Scholarships —awards $1,670 for tuition credit for one semester of studying abroad in Melbourne, Australia. Students studying engineering, science, or multicultural studies will have special consideration.

Excellence in a Foreign Language Scholarship —awarded to students who excel in one of the following foreign languages: French, German, Italian, Hindi, Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Spanish, or Japanese. Award amount is up to $3,000.

Exchange Programs for Studying Abroad

In some instances, colleges and universities offer an exchange program for students desiring to study abroad. These programs are especially designed to give students the opportunity to use their financial aid package in another country at a reciprocal exchange program with a university overseas.

Tips for Finding Studying Abroad Programs

  • Study abroad students can apply for federal financial aid. Be sure to complete a FAFSA to be considered anytime after January 1.
  • Talk to study abroad advisers and financial aid officers to find the best program and financial aid options for you.
  • Seek outside scholarships for studying abroad. Supplementing your financial aid package with an additional scholarship will eliminate any unwanted stress.
  • Don’t forget about other costs like getting a passport, meals while overseas, local transportation, and so forth. The better prepared you are, the more rewarding your experience will be.

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