Financing your Study Abroad Program

Financial Aid and Study Abroad

Comparing Costs of Study Abroad Programs

Studying Abroad on a Budget

Study Abroad Scholarships

Financial Aid and Study Abroad

Students are enrolled at UofL while they study abroad. Therefore, federal student aid and most other scholarships, loans, and grants accepted by UofL can be applied towards a semester or academic year abroad. Summer terms are at the end of the academic year, which means that financial aid for summer will be packaged according to students’ remaining eligibility for the current academic year. Students would work with Financial Aid to determine their eligibility for summer aid.

There are two main special cases:

  1. Students on Tuition Remission scholarships can only apply their aid to exchanges.
  2.  Students on the GI Bill must meet with the Office of Military and Veteran Student Services to see if their individual aid package can be used to for study abroad, and if so, which types of programs.

The Office of Study Abroad works closely with the Financial Aid Office to ensure that students receive the financial aid they are qualified for while studying abroad. As part of the study abroad process, the Office of Study Abroad will complete a budget for the student that must be approved by Financial Aid. The Financial Aid advisor will update the student’s cost of attendance for the term abroad and will determine when a student’s aid can be disbursed.  If a student is planning on receiving any federal Title IV (Pell Grant, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant, SEOG, TEACH, Work-Study, Direct Loans, and PLUS loans) during their term abroad, they will need to complete a study abroad financial aid agreement available when they meet with the financial aid office.

Leaving a program before its completion:

Federal regulations require that UofL use a Return of Title IV Funds calculation in cases where a student receiving Title IV financial aid (Pell, SEOG, and Direct Loans) discontinues study abroad during a given semester. If you discontinue study (drop, resign or withdraw from all courses in the semester) and have previously been awarded these funds, the university must determine if these funds are required to be returned to the appropriate financial aid programs.

Additionally, if a student who began attendance in a program abroad and has not officially withdrawn fails to earn a passing grade in at least one course taken over an entire term, UofL must assume the student has unofficially withdrawn for Title IV aid purposes, unless the student provides acceptable documentation from the instructor or department confirming that the student completed the term.

The university is required to complete the calculation within 30 days of discontinuance of study. 

Comparing Costs of Study Abroad Programs

When looking at multiple study abroad programs, here are the top 4 items to consider when you see that big number as the total cost:

1.     Duration: Typically, the shorter program is, the cheaper it is likely to be. The average cost of a 1-month summer study abroad program ranges from $3,500-$6,000. The average cost of a semester-long study abroad program ranges from $7,000-$15,000. However, while it may be easier to pay for a summer program out of pocket and with study abroad scholarships, a student's current financial aid can typically be applied to a semester or year-long program. Depending on an individual student's aid package, it may be more cost effective to spend a semester abroad.

2.     Location: Certain areas of the world are more affordable than others. Programs in Latin America and Africa tend to have a smaller overall price than Australia or Europe. Within the same country, there can also be big differences between cities. Consider whether a higher price tag in a major city is worth the opportunities you’d have there compared to a smaller town with a smaller price tag.

3.     Number of classes: With some programs, especially in the summer term, the number of credits you take directly correlates with the cost of the program. Some programs help keep their overall costs down by only offering a select number of courses instead of having a big course catalog.

4.     Housing situation: There are many different housing options in study abroad programs. The most common types of housing are homestays/host families, student apartments, and dorm-style living. When looking at these different options, keep in mind if any of them include a meal plan or cover board. For example, a homestay option that provides you 3 meals a day and utilities may be more expensive up front, but could end up being more economical compared to an apartment where you have to pay your own utilities and provide all of your meals.

When researching programs, use this excel study abroad budget sample form to make sure you include all potential costs for your program.

Studying Abroad on a Budget

Studying abroad may seem like an expensive endeavor, but there are many ways to study abroad without breaking the bank.

Here are some tips to save money:

1. Consider a semester-long program with a comparable cost to UofLThere are programs around the world that are either cheaper or about the same price as UofL. Based on the 2020-2021 rates, one semester at UofL (in-state tuition and fees, and traditional on-campus housing with a meal plan) costs $11,013. In addition, your financial aid typically goes with you on a semester-long program, so you should be able to offset these costs as you would for a semester in the US.

Here are examples of semester-long programs that are cheaper than one semester at UofL * :

*Prices are correct as of 2/1/21, and are subject to change at the program provider's discretion.

2. Avoid large cities: The cost of living is higher in a major city. Consider studying in a smaller town, and instead visit the major cities during weekends. For example, if your dream is to go to Paris, you can choose to study in a smaller city in France, but then visit Paris during holiday breaks or weekends. Remember, transportation in many other countries is much more cost effective than in the US.

3. Consider a homestay: Depending on your program, living with a local family may be more cost effective than living in an apartment or university housing. Homestay families are carefully screened by program providers, and providers carefully match students and families.

4. Consider doing an exchange: For exchanges, you pay the cost of tuition at UofL but you study at another university. Exchanges are recommended for students who are more independent and require less on-site support. Check out more information on exchanges on our types of programs page.

5. Consider a country where the dollar is stronger: In countries such as the Czech Republic or Thailand, the cost of living, including food and housing, is relatively low and the dollar will take you further. You might even save by living in one of these countries.

6. Plan early: Planning early allows you to budget more effectively and save up for your program.

7. Apply for scholarships! : More often than not, many students do not take advantage of available scholarship opportunities. Keep in mind that you can't win the lottery unless you buy a ticket. Also, if you think a scholarship isn't worth the time you need to put in for applying, think about how 1 hour of invested time for a $500 scholarship is not too shabby a wage!