Here at the Office of Study Abroad, we hear many students explain why they don’t think they can study abroad. Above all others, the most common reason we hear is that “study abroad is too expensive.” We understand that the prospect of spending large chunks of money to go to a new and unknown place is a bit daunting, however, we offer many resources for students to find ways to make studying abroad a reality.
The costs of KU sponsored study abroad programs include tuition, program fees, and estimated living expenses. These expenses are based on budgets built by education program coordinators, faculty directors, and the associate director of the Office of Study Abroad. They are based on the cost of living, which may be different than the cost of living in Lawrence. Students studying abroad do not pay full campus fees. Study abroad students on semester and summer programs will not pay fees to KU’s Medical Center or other fees not associated with study abroad.
Students do pay a study abroad program fee. The amount of the fee varies based on the type and length of the program. This fee includes several important and necessary components:
- Scholastic emergency and repatriation insurance. If there is a crisis or an emergency, this fee covers the cost of evacuating the student and getting him or her to safety.
- A $40 placeholder tuition fee that ensures credit comes back as KU credit. It also keeps students enrolled at KU, which ensures that students are still eligible for financial aid.
- Pre-departure orientation and orientation materials, including a handbook.
- Administrative fees that cover the cost of application processing, grade posting, emergency management, and advising. At this time, the Office of Study Abroad does not receive funding from KU student fees to cover these costs, so they are included in study abroad program fees.
I know that all of the fees and costs outlines above are boring and even a bit confusing, but you are not alone in wading through the financial side of studying abroad. The Office of Study Abroad has two full-time study abroad financial aid advisors that offer individualized financial aid advising specific to student needs and study abroad programs.
The OSA offers many opportunities for scholarships and financial aid that can be applied to study abroad. Each year the Office of Study Abroad and the Office of International Programs give out more than $500,000 in scholarships. In addition to scholarships, KU students are able to use the financial aid they already have, including grants and loans. Some semester long programs are actually comparable or less than the cost of studying in Lawrence for a semester when housing, meals, tuition, and transportation are included. For example, the estimated cost of studying in Lawrence for a semester (with all transportation costs, meals, housing, tuition, books, and fees included) is $12,038 for a Kansas Resident. The estimated cost of studying Spanish in Ronda, Spain, for a semester is $11,737.
To be prepared, students should also plan for their expense at-home ahead. These expenses cannot be included in a study abroad financial aid package, but you can prepare for them. Students are always encouraged to find housing as far in advance as possible to minimize costs. Students who live on campus can work with KU Housing to adjust their contracts to accommodate for studying abroad. Also, students can turn of utilities, pause magazines, pause car insurance coverage, and avoid other unused expenses with proper planning.
Each semester the Office of Study Abroad hosts a pre-departure orientation that includes general information on applying for visas and handling legal issues abroad. In addition to orientation, students on KU sponsored programs receive detailed information and staff assistance in obtaining their visas, creating a budget, and managing costs. They are also given information about laws and other issues they will need to be aware of when studying abroad. Students on KU sponsored programs also attend an additional orientation session with students who have previously participated in the program. These sessions include information on the costs of living, housing, meal planning, classwork, and other pertinent details. Students are encouraged to ask questions to prepare themselves for their time abroad.
Taking all of these resources into account, studying abroad can become a reality for even the most financially restricted of students. Answers to your financial questions and doubts can and will be addressed if you take the time to come into our office in 105 Lippincott Hall. We are always willing to work with you to find affordable ways to go abroad. Don’t let preconceived notions about the costs keep you from studying abroad.
For more information, please see our previous blog post on the Costs of Studying Abroad.