Paying for study abroad programs

study abroadDon’t despair if your student has his or her heart set on studying abroad. There are a number of ways to ease the financial costs of sending your child overseas. It helps to start early so don’t be afraid to discuss this topic with your college freshman.

Once your child has decided on a university and a program he needs to clear both with you, with the Study Abroad office, and with the Dean’s office in charge of his/her major or minor. Your next discussion then will concern budgets, scholarships, and loans. Although I have heard of grandparents who “gift” students with the full cost of tuition, housing and travel, most of us must search instead for creative means of financing these opportunities. Once the program and the time frame are determined, set a budget. Your student then needs to investigate any and all scholarships that are available for overseas study.

At my son Greg’s university, students enrolled in the Honors program were offered a tuition scholarship for summer study. He had to maintain a 3.5 grade point average and complete eight separate Honors classes before he was eligible for the tuition waiver. Savings to Mom, Dad, and son = $2,000. In addition, he applied to the Italian department for a scholarship. He needed to complete an application, secure a recommendation from one of his professors and write an essay. Additional savings to Mom, Dad, and son = $1,000.

If your student is not taking language classes but instead wants to do research, there are often scholarships available just for that purpose. No longer is research limited to students in the science or medical fields. Encourage your student to talk to the Honors program advisors even if he/she is not in the Honors program. A friend’s daughter secured a travel scholarship from the Honors department to present her undergraduate research at a national conference. The Honors department had not spent their entire budget and was happy to have an application for such a worthy (educational) cause.

bigstock-Happy-smiling-young-man-showin-14508404Your student can always get a separate loan for the full cost of overseas study. Visit to the Financial Aid office and complete an application. Loan application deadlines vary among colleges but should be completed one to two semesters prior to the term your child wants to study abroad. Part of the investigation process needs to be the search for loans that defer repayment until nine months after your student graduates. (This wonderful provision applies only to student loans, not parent-secured loans.) Caution: If such a loan is not available, then your student may need to start repaying the loan immediately.

Don’t forget local community resources. Every community has a number of service organizations that donate money to worthy causes, e.g., Kiwanis, Eagles, and Lions to name a few. If your child is willing to make presentations to classes, fraternal groups or the Chamber of Commerce, these organizations may be willing to contribute some money towards your student’s airfare or travel expenses. College students realize that studying overseas is a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity. We found that it is a great motivator! Our sons were intent on keeping their grades up and working part-time jobs in order to make this dream come true.


College Finances and Bills