Reader Question: Financial Aid for Students Studying Abroad

Last week, A.R. wrote in asking:

Is it impossible for a U.S. citizen studying abroad to receive Pell or SMART grants?

In fact, it is not impossible. Universities and colleges are required by federal law to continue to disburse funds to eligible students participating in approved programs. Study abroad financial aid is widely available for U.S. citizens who want to expand their horizons and immerse themselves in other cultures. Financial aid for undergraduates who want to study abroad consists mostly of federal grants such as the Pell Grant and the FSEOG Grant, and federal and private loans:

study aborad financial aidScholarships are also available from private organizations and sponsor companies.

David L. Boren Undergraduate Scholarships for Study Abroad provide scholarships to undergraduate students who wish to study languages and cultures considered to be important to U.S. national security and are underrepresented in study abroad. Students are not eligible to receive the Boren scholarship if they are studying in countries in Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Deadline: February 10, 2010

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program provides awards for U.S. undergraduate students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding at a two-year or four-year college or university to participate in study abroad programs worldwide. Deadline: April 6, 2010 for Fall 2010 Semester

Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Grants are designed to help support undergraduates as they seek knowledge and experience in their academic fields by studying abroad. Deadline: February 24, 2010

The Global Studies Foundation provides funding for American students who are already studying abroad under the direction of an official study abroad program from an accredited university. Deadline: July 1, 2010

Every school and study abroad program varies though, so be sure to speak with your school’s financial aid adviser or study abroad faculty to understand the specific funding options available at your school. The cost of any study abroad program depends on many factors – your destination country and the length of your program, not to mention all the additional travel costs such as your passport, visa, airfare, immunizations, local transportation, meals, and books.

Perhaps most importantly, don’t forget that exchange rates fluctuate all the time, so your dollars may not have the purchasing power you think. A general rule of thumb is that the more expensive the school’s tuition, the more costly the study-abroad program. Also, the student who spends a lot of money on campus is likely to spend a lot more money overseas.

For more information, visit NAFSA, the Association of International Educators.

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