Financing Your Time Abroad
Don't hesitate to discuss financial concerns with your study abroad advisor!
One of the essential steps when preparing to study abroad is to develop a realistic estimate of what it will cost you for a summer, semester, or year at a foreign institution. The CGE aims to keep the cost of studying abroad from substantially exceeding the cost of attending TU. This does not mean, however, the cost will be the same. The cost of living in your destination country, program tuition, and your own spending patterns will impact the actual costs for study abroad. The CGE, however, is committed to making sure that study abroad is affordable for every TU student. We have developed this guide to assist you with determining the actual cost of your time abroad and to understand how scholarships and financial aid can be used towards your expenses.
How much will it cost?
This question is probably in the forefront of your mind, especially since cost may influence your choice of study abroad programs. The cost of your study abroad program will depend on many factors, including your destination country, the type and length of your program, and what is included in the program cost. You will want to consider costs that typically are not included in the program fee, such as passport fees, student visa fees, application fees, confirmation enrollment deposits, airfare, immunizations, local transportation, additional meals, books, health insurance, excursions and incidentals. Most study abroad programs provide an explanation of what is included in their program fees as well as estimated personal expenses on their websites or in their printed literature.
Paying for study abroad at TU works like this: You will pay TU tuition, and TU pays your program fees. We offer two different categories from which to choose your study abroad program: The TU Blue Program or the TU Gold Program. If you chose a program from the list of TU Blue, then you pay your regular TU semester tuition. The CGE will then pay the program fee directly to your provider/host institution. The great thing about TU Blue is that your TU tuition will include the host program’s tuition and housing for the semester abroad. (Some TU Blue programs may also include meals.) If you choose a TU Gold Program, then you pay your regular TU semester tuition and any expenses that exceed TU tuition. In both cases, you will be billed directly by your program for expenses not included in their program fee, which might include but are not limited to, application fees, confirmation enrollment deposits, upgrades in housing, travel to and from the host country, local transportation, personal expenses, and cultural travel.
If you are applying to an exchange program, a Global E3 program, a USAC program or any other program that includes tuition and not housing as part of their program fee, you will pay the regular TU tuition, and the CGE will issue a stipend in the amount of the estimated housing costs, based on estimates provided by the foreign institution or study abroad provider. This amount will be equivalent to the lowest estimated price for housing at the host institution abroad.
To find TU Blue programs go to “Search Programs” -> “Advanced Search” - > and select TU Blue Programs.
Here are a few other issues that will affect the total price of your program:
- Destination: The cost of living will vary tremendously depending on the country or city in which you will be studying. Keep in mind that Tulsa and Oklahoma have a low cost of living compared to other places, so it is possible that your expenses for housing, meals, etc. will exceed what you spend in Tulsa, especially if you are studying in a major urban center.
- Exchange rate: Currency exchange rates fluctuate constantly. It is a good idea to regularly check online currency converters to stay abreast of the latest rates. One useful converter is FX Converter (http://www.oanda.com/convert/classic).
- Program duration/timing: While short-term programs may be less expensive, you may find that there are more resources available to you for semester or year-long study. Some costs do not change according to the length of time you are abroad.
The CGE budget worksheet is a guide to help you estimate your costs for study abroad. You will be asked to submit this to the CGE (all students) and the Financial Aid Office (if you are receiving federal aid) once you have been accepted to study abroad, so it is important that you accurately complete this information. In addition to giving you an idea of what to anticipate for your program expenses, this form will be used by the Financial Aid Office to determine the amount of your awards that can be applied towards study abroad. It is best to be reasonable and not low-ball your estimates. Part of the experience of studying abroad is being able to travel on some weekends and eat in local restaurants, and it is very frustrating to not have enough funds to participate in these activities.
So where does the information about program costs come from? First, make sure you have a good idea of what you actually spend at TU. Estimate your cost of living, including housing, meals, transportation, entertainment, and personal items so that you can determine these expenses while abroad. Second, check the website for your program provider for what they recommend for estimated expenses. Many of the study abroad programs will provide information based on what their participants report that they actually spend. Contact the program directly if this information is not on its website or in its program literature. Third, talk with students who previously participated in the program. The CGE can put you in touch with returnees so that you can get actual information from other TU students. Finally, meet with a CGE study abroad advisor to review your budget, a requirement to be approved for studying abroad. While we may not know the exact cost of every study abroad program, we will make sure that your estimates are reasonable and that you have taken into account most of the hidden expenses that can drive your costs.
Applying Your Financial Aid and TU Scholarships
Here is some good news: you may apply your federal financial aid and TU scholarships to your participation in an approved study abroad program. And here is even more good news: your federal financial aid award can be used for all of the expenses associated with studying abroad, not just your tuition. This means that you can use your aid for your total cost of attendance for your study abroad program, including your airline ticket, travel costs associated with obtaining your visa, your books, and even organized program excursions. TU scholarship awards will vary and may be limited to covering tuition only or a portion thereof on a study abroad program. It is advisable to check with your financial aid advisor and with your scholarship provider for further details and ask about any specific restrictions your scholarship award may carry. If you have a TU scholarship that requires you being on campus, like a music or sports scholarship, your time frame for going abroad may be limited.
Students receiving federal financial aid will need to work closely with the TU Financial Aid Office to determine a financial aid package that is specific to your study abroad plans. You will be expected to provide the financial aid advisor your completed budget worksheet that has been approved and signed by a staff member from the CGE. Keep in mind that most loan and grant programs have a maximum amount that you can receive during your college career, and federal financial aid for your study abroad is included within that maximum. This would be a matter to discuss with your financial aid advisor. After TU tuition has been paid and your account is clear, the Business Office can release the balance of your financial aid award to your private bank account so that you can pay for other program related expenses abroad.
Presidential Scholars may apply their entire award, equivalent to current TU tuition plus room and board on campus, to the expenses associated with study abroad. The scholarship can be applied to expenses associated with your program costs, which include foreign tuition, room, board, insurance, and excursions directly related to the academic program. Your scholarship cannot be applied to expenses that are not part of the advertised program fee, including international airfare, personal expenses, ground travel, optional excursions, deposits, application fees, entertainment, visa and passport fees, and upgrades in housing or meal plans. And as per the terms of the Presidential Scholarship, you cannot receive any balance of your award that exceeds the actual program costs.
After acceptance into a study abroad program, students receiving aid will need to work directly with the TU Business Office to make arrangements for awards to be dispersed so that you can cover program costs and other travel related expenses not already paid by TU.
In addition to TU awards and aid, there are additional scholarships to which you can apply for to support study abroad. Announcements about new program scholarships and grants will be distributed via the GoGlobal listserv and CGE’s various social media outlets.
Most program providers make available scholarships specific to their programs which we strongly encourage students to consider applying for. The CGE also provides scholarships for students participating on designated study abroad locations. Click here for list of these scholarships and instructions on how to apply.
Do you have questions or concerns? Discuss them with your study abroad advisor!