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Funding Your Student’s Study Abroad

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By: Kaitlin Hurtado, Uloop

The decision to study abroad during the college years is becoming increasingly popular among students. The thought of being able to study in another country while immersing oneself into another culture for an extended period of time is enticing for many college students, and as a parent, you can expect your student to voice their desires to study abroad during their college years.

When it comes to deciding whether or not to study abroad, a student’s financial situation is often one of the biggest factors. Instead of letting your student’s financial situation stop them from studying abroad, be there to aid them in figuring out the most efficient way to fund their study abroad.

1. Start saving up as early as possible, even if your student is not completely committed to studying abroad. 

Your student may not bring up their desire to study abroad until late in their college career, making the process of funding their study abroad decision even more stressful with a shorter time period.

Encourage your student to pick up a part-time job during college, letting them be more responsible for their decisions and their financial impact. Likewise, have your student apply for scholarships throughout the year, regardless of whether or not it will ultimately go to their study abroad funds.

Just as you would save for any big event, like sending your student off to college, have savings to fall back on if your student cannot get financial aid to fund their study abroad.

2. Have your student apply for financial aid for their university’s study abroad programs — and make sure they meet all the deadlines.

Depending on the program your student decides on for their study abroad, there are different financial aid options to apply for. A visit to the website of their university’s study abroad program will have their financial aid packages laid out for them. There are some programs that come with offers of grants and scholarships, but also others that only offer loans as their form of financial aid.

Just like how your student has deadlines to meet for getting financial aid for the regular school year, your student will have deadlines to meet in order to get financial aid for their study abroad. Your student can stay informed and up-to-date with study abroad programs by attending regular events hosted by their university’s study abroad center. Their university’s study abroad program is staffed by people who will be there for your student’s study abroad process, from picking where to go study to figuring out the best option to fund their decision.

3. Remember that location (and time) does matter when it comes to the financial situation. 

Your student’s choice of where they will spend their study abroad will impact the cost of their study abroad.

Take the University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) for example. They compare the cost of study abroad programs to the cost of regular tuition, down to the location and time spent studying abroad. Studying a semester (15-18 weeks) abroad in Taiwan can be as low as $10,000, which is $100 less than a quarter (11 weeks) at University of California, Irvine. Studying a semester abroad in another place like England can cost as high as $27,600. A whole year studying abroad in Korea can be $3,400 less than studying at UCI for an academic year.

Prior to planning out how to fund your student’s study abroad down to the details, help them decide where to study abroad, along with how much time they want to spend studying abroad. The timing is another large factor in the total cost of study abroad programs, as programs typically cost more during the summer than they do during the regular academic year.

4. Be aware of what is included in the study abroad program, and plan to fund accordingly. 

Some programs feature a “whole package” — tuition, airfare, housing, and meals — in their pricing. However, take extra caution in making sure what is included in your student’s study abroad program.

While the package may seem like a sweet deal, your student will most likely want and need spending money during their time abroad.

Your student may want to experience more of their temporary home’s culture than what their study abroad program initially supplies, which will end up being another factor in making the budget for your student’s study abroad. Supplied meals may not be enough, or convenient when they spend their free time traveling and then wanting to eat out and experiencing a new culture. Like any travel situation, your student may want spending money to buy souvenirs for their friends and family back home.

Help your student make a budget for their time abroad down to their spending money, which will help you know how much is needed to fund the study abroad and help your student avoid being stressed out about money during their study abroad. While you want your student to have the best time possible, filled with enriching experiences, during their study abroad, it is also important to emphasize being financially responsible, even abroad.

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