Scholarships, Grants & Loans and Planning For a Successful Semester or Degree Abroad

Funding Your Study Abroad

ByMoneyGeek Team

Updated: March 16, 2023

ByMoneyGeek Team

Updated: March 16, 2023

Advertising & Editorial Disclosure

Studying abroad offers a tremendous opportunity to see the world, immerse yourself in a new culture and gain a new understanding of yourself and your field of study. Yet only 1-2% percent of college students take advantage of this opportunity, which may be due to the costs of overseas travel. While it does require careful financial planning, it might be easier than you think to afford studying abroad.

This guide will introduce you to the costs of studying abroad, factors to consider in your planning and the different financing options that may be available to students hoping to study abroad, whether it's for a summer, a semester or an entire degree program.

Finding Scholarships to Study Abroad


Applying for Scholarships

Surprisingly, studying abroad can sometimes be more affordable than a traditional on-campus education. In addition to any study abroad scholarships they may earn, students may be able to apply their current financial aid packages toward study abroad programs.

Study abroad scholarships are financial awards that help students cover such expenses as lodging, travel, tuition or books. Students must apply for scholarships, and while most are highly sought after by students, some lesser-known scholarships are underutilized and therefore involve less competition. It literally pays to conduct a thorough search.

There are three popular and prestigious scholarships for undergraduates who want to complete their education abroad: the Fulbright Scholar Program, Marshall Scholarship, and Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Each is offered to students who have shown outstanding academic achievement.


Loans for Foreign Study

The cost of an international education can deter some students from considering study abroad. However, financial aid, grants, scholarships, and loans can make it possible, so take the time to investigate all of your financing options.

U.S. Federal loans

Federal loans available to students or their parents can help pay for study abroad as well as at home, whether it's for a semester or your entire degree program. They are often less expensive than private loans, with fixed interest rates and more flexible repayment schedules. These include Stafford Loans, PLUS Loans, and the Montgomery GI Bill.


Private Study Abroad Loans

Although there are more options than ever for private-lender student loans, federal loans still usually charge lower fees and interest rates. In addition, the federal government does not back private lender loans as they do with Stafford or PLUS loans. However, maximum federal loan limits are not always enough to cover the rising costs of education, and a private loan may be necessary to fill the gap.

Finding the Cost of Studying Abroad

Planning is essential to fit study abroad into your educational picture. It's important to understand the cost-of-living differences between where you live now and your preferred study destination, and what those differences will mean for your lifestyle. For example, if you live in New York City, you will find the cost of living in Hong Kong is 11 percent cheaper on average. Let's look at how other countries' expenses compare with those of the United States.

Just as the Cost of Living Varies in the US, It Varies Abroad Too


Source: Expatistan 2019

Planning For Study Abroad

Look at all expenses you will incur when selecting your study abroad program, the program length, language and culture you'll be immersing yourself in. Planning and budgeting your money as you live abroad will eliminate unwelcome surprises, such as running out of money halfway through your studies.









Reader Resources

Budgeting Aids

Financial Aid Facts

Housing Costs

Other Appropriate Resources

About MoneyGeek Team

MoneyGeek Team headshot

The MoneyGeek editorial team has decades of combined experience in writing and publishing information about how people should manage money and credit. Our editors have worked with numerous publications including The Washington Post, The Daily Business Review, HealthDay and Time, Inc., and have won numerous journalism awards. Our talented team of contributing writers includes mortgage experts, veteran financial reporters and award-winning journalists. Learn more about the MoneyGeek team.