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Do Schools Offer Study Abroad Programs for Free?

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Alexandra Johnson in a CollegeVine Livestream. You can watch the full Livestream for more info.


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How Can You Pay for Study Abroad?


Study abroad is an exciting opportunity for students to gain exposure to different cultures, all while learning in a diverse environment. But many individuals are naturally concerned about the cost of programs abroad.


Are study abroad programs ever free? That depends on the college. Typically, the programs do cost money. That said, often, you can take advantage of funding available at your school. 


What you would want to do is take a look at the resources available at the school and talk to faculty and advisors about what sorts of fellowship opportunities or funding opportunities might exist for you to study abroad.


In short, while these programs themselves typically aren’t free, your school will likely have resources that will make it possible for you to take advantage of that experience.


Usually, though, if you do a traditional program, you’ll need to pay the same tuition as you would normally. There also might be a program fee on top of that. But if you have financial aid and scholarships, they usually apply to study abroad as well—your scholarship won’t be taken away. They really try to make it accessible.


Examples of Funding Opportunities


At Yale, for example, there’s the Light Fellowship, which was geared towards travel study or cultural immersion in Asia. If students want funding for study abroad programs in Asia, then they can apply for the fellowship.


Or, you might be able to conduct research abroad, and that could be funded by a fellowship. You will probably need to make a proposal and explain how you will use the money as part of your request, and the program would give you a stipend to cover your expenses. Of course, programs have different rules. 


Another example is Duke, which funds a summer of volunteering abroad, called Duke Engage. The experiences have themes, and the costs of food, housing, and other expenses are covered. The stipend varies according to the cost of living in the country. For instance, the stipend is larger for students in Ireland vs. Uganda. Through this program, students also take classes together focused on the theme. 


Can You Ever Study Abroad for Free?


There are plenty of additional opportunities for scholarships and funding. You just have to know the right places to look. And remember that usually, your financial aid will carry over if the program is organized by your university—it’s surprisingly transferable, although the terms do vary. 


If you’re flexible in terms of what you’re looking for, you should be able to find programs that are affordable or even free.