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Study Abroad Myths Dispelled! Part I: It's too Expensive!

Posted on July 14, 2015

In this series, Diversity Abroad will dispel the various study abroad myths associated with going abroad. All students -- no matter how they identify -- can go abroad.

Study abroad myth #1: Study Abroad is too expensive!

To start, here’s a little exercise to help you overcome your initial “sticker shock”:

How much does it cost to be a student at your school for a quarter or semester?

If you don’t know off the top of your head, look at your financial aid statement. On top of that, add the costs for housing, books/materials, transportation, and additional expenses.

Now, what’s that total cost for the semester or quarter? How about for the full academic year?

According to the College Board, “a "moderate" college budget for an in-state public college for the 2014–2015 academic year averaged $23,410. A moderate budget at a private college averaged $46,272!

Even though the cost to be a U.S. college student is high, many students find ways to pay to go to school. From loans and grants, to scholarships and savings, there are plenty of ways to pay for college.

Since most study abroad programs allow you to earn academic credit towards your degree, that means there are just as many financial resources out there to earn those credits abroad. Below is a brief list of the types of funding you can potentially receive and use to go abroad:

  1. Scholarships! Check out our database here, or ask your school’s Study Abroad or Financial Aid offices to get some ideas. One of the most popular is the Gilman Scholarship, which is specifically for Pell-Grant recipients.
  2. Fellowships provide you with funding and/or specific skills training. For example, the Boren Fellowship is open to graduate students and allows them to develop critical language proficiency.
  3. Institution-based aid. Check with your school’s study abroad office and financial aid office to learn more about school-based funding opportunities. There may be campus-wide funding, or specific scholarships and grants through your academic department or program.
  4. Grants and Loans. Talk to your financial aid advisor and ask how much financial aid package can be applied to study abroad.
  5. Crowdsourcing. Sites like Go Fund Me or Fund My Travel allow friends, family, and other supporters to donate to your experience. Just be mindful that each site does take a small percentage of your total raised.
  6. Save up! If you work while you’re in school, take a percentage of each paycheck and set it aside to pay for your study abroad program.

These are just a few suggestions to help alleviate program costs, and there are likely many more not listed. Ultimately, we want to challenge the idea that study abroad is too expensive to even consider. We hope you can see yourself going abroad now that it’s a little clearer just how feasible going abroad can be.

Authored by: Trixie Cordova

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