Finding Ways to Finance Study Abroad


Affording Study Abroad

It is apparent every day that our world is interconnected and interdependent. Tomorrow’s citizens will need a sophisticated understanding of other societies and their ways of thinking, and of the transnational challenges facing us all. Students at all levels of education need access to information about world issues—and about the ways people in other societies approach these issues—in order to become productive members of the world community. They need opportunities that can help deepen skills related to working with people who are different from themselves. These opportunities include time to talk with, listen to, and learn from people from other cultural and national backgrounds, access to study materials about other parts of the world and other cultural perspectives on the global issues of the day, and chances to see first-hand how people in other countries live, learn, and engage with the world.

A key question among college students and their families is how to finance study abroad. Universities and colleges offer many options. In addition, federal grants and federal and private loans are available to support students. Title IV of the Higher Education Act ensures that undergraduate students can apply federal aid to any approved study abroad program, under specific conditions. Learn about these requirements from the study abroad office at your college or university. Some scholarship money is also available from private organizations and sponsoring companies.

The Top 5 Ways To Finance Study Abroad

The most typical funding mechanisms for study abroad are:

  1. Federal Student Aid: Grants, scholarships, and loans: The Higher Education Act includes study abroad program fees as eligible costs for federal aid coverage. For a student to be considered for any federal aid, he/she must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  2. Institutional Grants and Scholarships: Some colleges and universities will allow students to apply all institutional aid when participating on an approved study abroad program. Check with the financial aid office or study abroad office on your campus.
  3. Federal Loans for Parents: The federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) lets parents borrow money to cover any costs not already covered by the student's financial aid package, up to the full cost of attendance.
  4. Private Scholarships: Some colleges and universities offer study abroad scholarships for their own matriculated students. In most cases, students must attend an institution-determined approved program to qualify for a study abroad scholarship. Check with the financial aid office or study abroad office on your campus.
  5. Employment/Internships Abroad: While some countries will allow U.S. students to work while they attend a host institution, money earned while working abroad is very unlikely to constitute a major funding source.

Key NAFSA Resources

For students and families:

For university and college education abroad offices: