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Financial Aid for Study Abroad

Financial Aid for Study Abroad

Don't let finances inhibit you from studying abroad.

By Roxana Hadad

April 21, 2009

Euro. Yen. Dollar. Whatever you call it, if you want to study abroad you’re going to need it. There are ways to get financial aid to study abroad. Find out how to make your trip overseas more affordable.

The Ins and Outs of Aid Eligibility

Before you rule out study abroad because of the cost, find out whether you may be eligible for aid. The amount of financial aid you get for your term abroad depends on:

  • The amount of financial aid you qualify for at your home campus.
  • The price tag on the study abroad program.
  • How committed your college is to promoting study abroad opportunities.
  • Whether or not the program you are interested in is approved by your college and will advance you in your degree.
  • If you are taking at least a half-time course load.

Using the Aid You’ve Already Got

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Your first step in funding your trip abroad is to find out if you can use any aid you’ve already received. This includes aid from the usual sources: federal need-based aid (e.g. Pell grants, Stafford loans, PLUS loans); state need-based aid and merit scholarships; and institutional aid (scholarships and grants provided directly by the school). Keep in mind that each state and college may have different regulations regarding financial aid for study abroad.

When it comes to federal aid, your school can’t deny you aid just because you’re participating in a study abroad program. But in order for those funds to transfer, you have to meet certain requirements. Your study abroad program must be approved for credit by your school, you must take course that advance you toward a degree, you must study at least half-time, and you must meet the usual eligibility restrictions for federal aid. If you are interested in a program that costs more than your usual tuition, you may be able to receive an increase in your Federal Pell Grant.

For state-based and institutional aid, policies vary. Check with the financial aid officer at your school to learn about any special requirements or limitations.

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Other Sources of Aid

In addition to using the aid you’ve already got, look for other ways to get funding for your study abroad experience.

Start by checking in with your school’s study abroad office. They’ll be able to tell you if your school sponsors any special awards for study abroad programs, or if they sponsor programs of their own which include funding for travel.

If the program you are considering is sponsored by another institution, check to see if there is a consortium agreement between your school and the sponsoring school. You might be able to carry your financial aid to the sponsoring institution.

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The US government sponsors some competitive fellowships and grants for study abroad. These are mostly for graduate students but some, like the (NSEP), offer scholarships for undergraduates, too.

Look into private organizations or civic groups for other sources of aid. Organizations and associations related to your area of study or destination are worth contacting, as are ethnic and service organizations. Start with

  • The Rotary club sponsors Ambassadorial Scholarships for civic-minded students who want to broaden their horizons.
  • The IIE supports the Fulbright awards for undergraduates, graduates and teachers.
  • The CIEE supports a number of programs, including the Bowman Travel grants.

Exciting opportunities await you around the world. Don’t let cost hold you back. Research your options and maybe you’ll soon be saying “adios.”


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