Studying abroad is cheaper than you might think. With a combination of scholarships, financial aid and creative use of loopholes, studying abroad can be the most inexpensive method of experiencing another culture.
The HOPE scholarship will cover tuition for almost all study abroad programs. For my program, I pay the same amount in tuition to Georgia State as I would if I was attending school on campus. HOPE also pays out the same amount (although that amount is making a smaller and smaller dent as tuition rises).
Unfortunately, I also have to pay student fees, which means I pay for the busses I can’t use, the gym I can’t work out in and the football team that I won’t be in town to watch. My attempts to circumvent this fee did not succeed, but maybe if you’re persistent enough you can have better luck.
I also have to pay a one-time student fee of $350 to Mainz University, but at least it covers facilities I can actually use and a public transportation ticket that works for a 100 km radius around Mainz.
There are two study abroad scholarships sponsored by Georgia State: the Global Experience Scholarship, which is based on financial need, and the International Education Fee (IEF) scholarship. Both scholarships can be applied for on the Georgia State study abroad website, and both applications take five minutes to complete.
Only students who receive financial aid and have never travelled outside the country are eligible for the Global Experience Scholarship. The scholarship awards are substantial, so if you are eligible, you should absolutely apply for this scholarship. You can receive up to $20,000 for an academic year, which, when combined with other financial aid, should more than cover the costs of studying abroad.
The IEF Scholarship is open to all students, and awards up to $1000 per semester abroad. Students are allowed to apply for both the Global Experience Scholarship and the IEF Scholarship.
In addition to scholarships, many programs, mine included, come with fellowships that pay in exchange for light office work. My fellowship will give me $4,000 to assist a professor in the american studies department at Mainz University.
All international programs require that you purchase international health insurance. The mandatory HTH Worldwide Insurance costs $10 per week. I was able to gain an exemption from this by providing proof of international coverage from my health insurance provider. If you want to do the same, be sure that you are covered for repatriation of remains and medical evacuation as well as all the other standard benefits, such as hospital visits.
The cost of airfare continues to rise, and may be one of the most expensive single items for studying abroad. Fortunately for me, I get flight benefits from Delta Airlines because my dad is a pilot. If you know someone who works for an airline, ask them to let you have a buddy pass, which will greatly reduce the cost of the ticket. Be careful with a buddy pass, though, as a buddy pass ticket does not guarantee you a seat on the airplane if there are more paying passengers than there are seats.
I’m staying in a Mainz University dorm for $285 a month. In contrast, the comparable freshman dorms at GSU cost about $419 a month, and it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find an apartment or house in Atlanta for under $300.
After all these costs, the only thing left to pay for is bread and circus. Food and entertainment costs depend on your budget and preferences. Try talking to students from the country you wish to visit and see what they eat and how much it costs. I’ve been told by German students that fresh produce and beer are very inexpensive in Germany.
Research the programs that interest you thoroughly and ask questions. Try to find as many scholarships and loopholes as you can to minimize the costs. With financial aid and scholarships, studying abroad can be the most inexpensive way to experience a foreign country.