Preparing Your Finances for Studying Abroad

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Preparing Your Finances for Studying Abroad

By Mark Mulkeen

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College can be thought of as an investment in which you pay for the opportunity to earn a degree, and cash in on the investment by getting a job your degree qualifies you for. But that doesn’t have to be the only way of thinking of it; college is also an experience, and a potentially enriching and exciting part of that experience is studying abroad. It’s a fantastic way to see the world, but if you do decide to study abroad, you should ensure the experience isn’t breaking the bank. You can take many actions to control the amount you spend for your experience, and searching for scholarships is a good place to start.


You may have thought your scholarship search ended when you began college, but that’s likely not the case. Studying abroad potentially increases your expenses, but it also opens up a wealth of opportunities for scholarships to financially support your experience. Scholarships to help support studying abroad are offered by Pitt to students throughout the university, regardless of their concentrations of study. A big example of scholarships like these is the Nationality Room Scholarships, which are sponsored by Cathedral of Learning Nationality Rooms and range in amount from $3,500 to $5,000.


The school within Pitt that you’re enrolled in may offer scholarships for studying abroad as well. For example, the College of Business Administration currently provides about $180,000 annually in scholarships for Pitt Study Abroad programs. The Swanson School of Engineering also provides funds for Study Abroad scholarships annually, so check with your school to see if they offer their own scholarships for studying abroad.


Outside scholarships are also offered far and wide, so expand your search outside the University of Pittsburgh as well. Many scholarships for studying abroad exist, and the only thing limiting the search is you, so search as much as you can. Scholarship searching is not the only area you should be researching though. Comparing the potential budgets of different Study Abroad programs is an important type of research to conduct as well.


Study Abroad expenses vary widely based on the type of program chosen. Fortunately, the Pitt Study Abroad site lists the specific expenses for each program. However even with the expenses listed, choosing the program that works best for you financially can be a difficult and overwhelming task. The Study Abroad site goes a step further in helping you here by providing a budgeting tool in the form of an excel template, which allows you to compare and plan expenses.


This template shows different expenses for you to enter by category, which adds up to an estimated total expense for the program. The same process is then done with financial resources you would receive for the program, such as financial aid, family contributions, and more, to give you an estimate of total financial resources. The template allows you to compare the estimated finances of up to three programs at a time. Once you do decide which program you have chosen, make sure to keep your chosen program in the budgeting tool so that you can more accurately plan your Study Abroad experience. It is also worth mentioning that Pitt run programs are not the only ways to study abroad. However, taking an alternative route can affect the financial aid you currently receive.


As mentioned earlier, your financial situation varies based on the program you choose. One big factor to look out for is the way your financial aid could change if you enroll directly to study abroad. Direct enrollment refers to enrolling in a university abroad for a semester, rather than studying abroad through a Pitt run program, where financial aid is often still available. Pitt Academic Scholarships and need-based grants are not available to students during semesters abroad if they do so through direct enrollment. Additionally, Pitt does not process government grants and loans if a student is directly enrolled abroad. Pitt offers a wide range of its own programs, so you still have many options without considering direct enrollment. But if you do decide direct enrollment is the best option for you, be aware of the change in your financial aid that will occur.


Studying abroad can be an expensive process, but it’s also quite the enriching experience, making it a difficult opportunity to pass up. If you do decide to study abroad, take steps toward keeping the experience financially feasible. Searching for scholarships, comparing the budgets of programs, and making sure you keep your current aid are just some areas of research that could affect your cost of studying abroad. With that in mind, leave stone unturned and plan your finances as much as possible before departing the states to study abroad.

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