Students with Financial Need

If you want to study abroad but have high financial need, it can be challenging to figure out if it's even possible for you. As you begin the process of researching and selecting a program, be sure to keep budget in mind. Some study abroad programs are very expensive. Some are cheaper than a semester at KU. You can find a program that will fit your financial situation, but it might mean you will need to be flexible about where you go.

Questions to Consider When Choosing a Program

  • How much do I currently pay to attend KU?
  • What funding sources do I rely on that I might not have access to abroad (like a job)?
  • What options are available for me to avoid paying for my personal expenses in Lawrence while abroad, like rent, car insurance, etc.?
  • What programs are within my financial means? (Ask the Office of Study Abroad to help you! We can help you with budgets and with your search.)
  • What can I do now to prepare to go abroad (save money, plan my financial aid package, etc.)?

Tips

  • Semester programs and internships in East Asia are usually the most affordable for the amount of time you go vs. the cost. (Biggest bang for your buck.)
  • Programs through ISEP, USAC, and KU exchanges are often very affordable. Start your search there for semester programs.
  • If you receive Pell Grants, apply for a Gilman Scholarship. 
  • It is often illegal for international students to work abroad, so if you typically have a job, you’ll need to plan for your expenses without additional income. Otherwise, ask your coordinator which countries will allow you to work abroad.

Preparing to Depart & While You are Abroad

Studying abroad brings a number of new types of expenses and financial concerns for students, and no matter your financial situation, it can be challenging. If you have high financial need, it can cause anxiety over every expense, and unexpected expenses may cause panic. You might start becoming extreme and obsessive in your budgeting. If your peers spend more freely, you might feel left out, lonely, or like you don’t belong. Planning ahead will make it easier for you to be financially empowered.

Start by outlining your expenses and your resources. Assume that you won’t be working abroad, so your total resources will be all you have for the duration of your experience. 
  • Understand what your expenses will be and how you can save money. Make a budget using our Google Sheets template.
  • Pace your spending. Look at your total resources and know how much you can spend each week. If you have leftover funds at the end of the week, they can become your discretionary funds.
  • Pay attention to the exchange rate and understand your purchasing power with USD. 1 USD may equal 1 Swiss Franc, but if a simple lunch is 12 Swiss Francs your purchasing power is not the same as it would be in Lawrence. 
  • If withdrawing cash, consider taking your money out in chunks and dividing it into envelopes to help you budget. Be conscious of international transaction fees. (Designate an envelope for food, transportation, etc.) 

Consider packing everything you need that you know is cheaper in the U.S.

  • We usually advocate for packing light, but if you know you will need cooking utensils, bedding, school supplies, and personal hygiene items, it might be more affordable to pack them, especially if you already own them. Find out what the weight and luggage restrictions are for your flights. If you can check a bag (or two) for free, it may be worth the weight and inconvenience to bring items you’ll need. 
  • Talk to students who have studied in your host country and ask them what they found to be cheap and what was expensive. As an example, in Costa Rica food is very affordable, but shampoo and sunscreen are very expensive. Knowing what items are cheaper in the U.S. will help you make good packing choices. 

Set aside an emergency fund

  • Have a backup plan only for emergencies. Maybe it’s a KU Endowment Loan that you set aside, maybe it’s a credit card that you won’t use otherwise, maybe it’s a family member who agrees to help if you have an emergency. Have a plan for what you will do if you have true unavoidable and unexpected expenses.

Live like a local student

  • Eat like a local student. Cook your own meals with local food and groceries.
  • Choose free cultural activities and look for discounts for museums and other cultural experiences.
  • Find the value (and fun!) in what you can afford, and don’t dwell on the opportunities you skip. 
  • Find friends (local or other international students) that are also living on a budget. You’ll have similar spending limits and won’t be tempted to overspend so you can belong.
  • Use public transportation or walk/bike to get around.

Plan Travel Opportunities Wisely

  • Explore your host country instead of planning multi-city destinations.
  • Small towns and college towns are usually less crowded and more affordable than big cities.
  • If you make local friends and they offer to show you their hometowns or favorite spots, take them up on it—as long as you feel safe.

Prioritize Safety over Finances

  • Even if it costs a bit more, eating healthy, well-balanced meals will help you stay healthy and keep you from getting sick, which will cost you in time and resources.
  • Staying closer to a city center and good public transportation may cost more, but you’ll spend less on transportation expenses.
  • Staying in safe places and making safe travel choices will lower your risk of being robbed, getting in an accident, or having other expensive emergencies. 

Announcements

Study Abroad Information Center
To learn more about your study abroad options, we encourage you to visit the Study Abroad Info Center (105 Lippincott Hall). The Study Abroad Info Center offers walk-in advising for current and prospective students. Drop by to learn more about program options, make an appointment with a study abroad program coordinator, get information on scholarships and financial aid, and talk to returned study abroad students. We also encourage you to explore the resources available on our website to learn more about the application process, KU Core Approved programs, and the cost of study abroad. 

Study Abroad Information Center
Lippincott Hall, Room 105
1410 Jayhawk Boulevard
Hours: Monday - Friday. 9AM - 5 PM
Contact: studyabroad@ku.edu
 

Study Abroad Financial Advising
The Office of Study Abroad has weekly 'You Can Afford to Study Abroad' Financial Aid and Scholarship Info Sessions/Open Meetings on Wednesday afternoons at 4:00 pm and Thursday afternoons at 2:00 pm in the Info Center (105 Lippincott Hall). The financial aid officer will be happy to take any questions and can offer individual advising at the end of sessions for specific concerns. For those that cannot attend the weekly Info Sessions due to scheduling conflicts, we also offer appointments for financial planning as well as financial aid and scholarship advising for students. Please visit 108 Lippincott Hall or call 785-864-3742 to set up an appointment.

 

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9th among public universities in the country for high quality, low cost study abroad programs — U.S. News & World Report
Longest-running exchange program in Western Hemisphere (begun in 1958) between KU and University of Costa Rica
18th in the nation among public universities for undergraduate participation in study abroad — Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange
28.1% of KU undergraduate students study abroad prior to graduation.
KU students who study abroad graduate in four years at twice the rate of students who do not study abroad
More than 160 study abroad programs in 75 countries, with instruction in all disciplines and 20+ languages
Students can study abroad for an academic year, semester, summer, spring break, or winter break
Programs include international study, internships, service, and research opportunities
Students participating in semester, academic year, and select summer programs fulfill Goal 4.2 of the KU Core curriculum
Students can fulfill major, minor, certificate, elective, and KU Core curriculum requirements abroad
Programs are available for students in every major at KU
Financial aid is applicable to study abroad programs, and most KU scholarships and grants can be applied to study abroad
The Office of Study Abroad and many academic departments offer scholarships to qualified KU students
By studying abroad, students gain a global perspective on the world and strengthen their career opportunities
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
—ALA
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times