When it comes to studying abroad, many students are concerned about how to finance their experience. To help with this we’ve come up with 5 tips so students can explore and grow without going bankrupt.

1. Know your financial aid package

Many students don’t know but you can use your financial aid to fund your study abroad program. Below we’ve outlined the general rules when it comes to using financial aid at Ball State for study abroad.

Federal loans can be used in fall/spring/summer terms as long as the student earns at least 6 credit hours

Ball State scholarships might be able to be used during fall/spring/summer terms depending on the location of the trip

Outside scholarships might be able to be used during fall/spring/summer terms

21st Century scholars can’t use their funds for the summer term but they can for the fall/spring terms as long as they take at least 12 credit hours

Ed OBannon scholars can’t use their funds for the summer term but they can for the fall/spring terms as long as they take at least 12 credit hours

Pell Grant recipients can use their grant to study abroad during the fall/spring term and possibly in the summer term too

Recipients of other grants can use their funds during the fall/spring terms and possibly in the summer term as well

Private loans can be used for any of the fall/spring/summer terms

Everyone’s situation is unique and a “maybe” or a “possibly” is not a “no”. We strongly encourage all students to talk to a financial aid advisor in Cardinal Central about their options.

2. What parts of a program do you value?

What kind of experience do you want to get out of studying abroad? There are so many programs with so many different experiences and add-on options. Do you want to improve your second language ability? How important is it to you that your program takes you on an excursion to a world heritage site? Are you more independent or do you need the support of traveling with others? Do you want to study and have an internship or just choose one? 

3. Look for cost-effective programs

Some program providers like KIIS (find them here) make it a point to provide study abroad programs at a more affordable rate. Other programs like AIFS (find them here) have May term programs that are for shorter terms and therefore cheaper.

The country you choose can also have an impact on the cost due to the cost of living there.

Exchanges (find options here) can be a good option because no matter where you’re going, you’re paying Ball State tuition. That means the only outlying costs will be for housing (which can sometimes be cheaper!) and flight/transport.

Faculty-Led programs are also usually more cost-effective because they tend to be shorter programs that fit into BSU break sessions. Shorter programs typically mean cheaper programs.

BSU-in-Puebla is a new program option (find it here) that will allow BSU students to take BSU courses with BSU faculty in Puebla, Mexico for the same price as attending BSU for that term, including flights! Take classes with BSU students and faculty at the Universidad de las Américas Puebla (UDLAP) and interact with local students in your free time. Courses are offered in the core curriculum, health sciences, honors, and Spanish.

For more information about the pros and cons of different types of programs see our post here.

4. Apply for scholarships

Scholarships are a great way to subsidize the cost of studying abroad! Luckily, BSU makes their scholarships easy by including it in the application to study abroad. That means there’s only one application for studying abroad and all the Rinker Center scholarships! Rinker Center Scholarships typically range from $200-$1000, so you’ll want to look for other scholarships as well.

AIFS and KIIS also have scholarships for their programs. If you’re going on their program, make sure to check with them! 

Keep an eye out for scholarships outside of your program provider or home institution. There are plenty of scholarships out there for study abroad specifically or sometimes scholarships for a specific major can also be used for studying that major while abroad.

5. Make a budget sheet

Finally, making a budget is a great way to make sure that everything is accounted for and funded. But it’s also a great way to see if all the things you might pay for are really worth it to you. Compare costs between programs to make sure that you’re spending money on the experiences that you value most. For example, the cost difference between two programs might be between the opportunity to stay with a host family or stay in student dorms. Is the experience of staying with a host family worth the difference to you?

Some areas to think about when you’re making your budget sheet are living expenses (housing, meals), academic expenses (tuition, books), travel expenses (airfare, passport, visa, local transportation), communication expenses (internet access, cell phone), program expenses (application fee, group excursions), health and safety expenses (insurance, immunizations), personal expenses (toiletries, souvenirs, entertainment)

If this post got you thinking and you’d like to talk to a study abroad advisor, set up a 1-on-1 advising appointment here.