Study Abroad Basics: Finances
- All students are eligible to apply for financial aid using the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) application. For maximum consideration, it is recommended that you file your FAFSA application (or renewal for continuing applicants) to the Federal Processor by the priority application filing dates listed on the Financial Aid Office website.
- You may use loans, grants, and scholarships toward your study abroad cost. If you have never applied or received financial aid before, you are strongly encouraged to consult with Gayla Jenkins (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the Financial Aid Office to learn more about potential eligibility as it may change due to the change in your Cost of Attendance in accordance with your study abroad budget.
- CIE shares all study abroad program budgets with the Financial Aid Office in order to provide them with that Cost of Attendance, which allows them to include the billable (PAWS fees) estimates as well as the non-billable (additional expenses) estimates when determining your financial aid award.
- If the financial aid funds are higher than the fees you owe on your UWM PAWS (Panther Access to Web Services) account, you will receive a check in the mail from the Cashier’s Office for the difference. If the financial aid funds are lower than the fees you owe on your UWM PAWS account, it is your responsibility to ensure that your program is paid for in full.
- When you return from a semester or year-long program, your grades may not be reported immediately, especially if your program’s dates differed significantly from the UWM semester’s dates. In this case, you may receive an email or written notification in the mail stating that you are in a “warning” status. Don’t panic! Contact Gayla Jenkins (email@example.com) in the Financial Aid Office to let her know. You will still receive your financial aid for the semester and the “warning” status will be lifted as soon as your grades are reported for that term.
- If you are notified that you have “ineligible” status, again, don’t panic, but e-mail Gayla right away to let her know and get further information from her regarding your status.
Each study abroad program has its own unique budget. Each budget is created or updated for each term in order to offer the most accurate estimates possible. Budgets can be found by clicking either the term hyperlink (i.e.: Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Summer or UWinteriM) next to “Cost Information” or clicking the “Program Costs” tab in each program’s page.
Before looking at your program’s budget, think about your typical expenses during a semester or year at UWM. This will provide you with a good baseline to use when you are looking at expenses in a study abroad program’s budget. The Financial Aid Office’s Cost of Attendance website provides an estimate of the cost of attendance at UWM, which includes many of the same items your study abroad budget will.
You can use the estimated amounts as a guide, but also consider your individual spending habits. Be realistic. For example, any dietary restrictions or preferences may affect the amount you spend on food and should be taken into consideration.
There are a few distinct differences in study abroad budgets based on the type of program you participate in as described below.
Each study abroad budget will list billable items – items for which CIE will bill you on your UWM PAWS (Panther Access to Web Services) account – and non-billable items – items for which you will not be billed, but that you will want to consider when you are thinking about the cost of studying abroad. While we will offer as much support as we can to assist you with planning and securing those non-billable items, we will not formally bill you for them as you will be responsible for paying for them directly (i.e.: your passport, transportation, food etc.).
Do keep in mind that your Cost of Attendance, as considered by the UWM Financial Aid Office when determining your award for the term that you are abroad, is comprised of the total cost of both billable and non-billable items. In every budget, the billable items will contain the standard fees, which include UWM administrative fees and mandatory UWM international health insurance.
There are many resources available to help students finance their program. They include but are not limited to, financial aid, scholarships, and individual fundraising. Students are encouraged to explore any and all options. See the Scholarships and Grants page to get started.
Check with campus departments, organizations and areas on campus in which you are involved. While CIE details many scholarship and grant opportunities, they are generally specific to students who are studying abroad. There may be additional scholarships either through a department, center or office on campus that you could use to support your study abroad. Below are some ideas to get you started:
- Language Departments
- Even if you don’t normally study language on campus, you may likely be learning a little, or at least be exposed to another language while you are abroad.
- Department through which you are earning credit for your courses abroad
- Centers on campus, such as the LGBT Resource Center, the Women’s Resource Center, the Accessibility Resource Center, etc.
- Student organizations
While these resources may not lead to specific opportunities, they may at least be able to point you toward additional resources where you can continue your search.
Fundraising can be another great way to help fund your study abroad experience. Local, regional and national groups, as well as individuals could all be contributors. Here are just a few ideas:
- Heritage groups that have interests in specific countries, language and/or culture
- Civic groups (Rotary, Lions Clubs, and more)
- Agencies or foundations
- High school and/or college alumni associations
- Professional and business clubs
- Sororities and fraternities
- Charitable, ethnic, religious or political organizations
- Previous or current employers or parents’ employers
- Local businesses with an international focus
- Family and friends (i.e.: in lieu of a birthday gift)
How do you solicit funds from these groups? Talking to them in-person is often the best approach. Prepare what you will say. It’s important to tell them how you intend to use their funds (i.e.: for your program fees, airfare, etc.). If you can’t talk to them in-person, send a written request and include a photo of yourself to establish a personal connection. It may also help to offer to do something in return for their financial support. You could offer to share updates while you are abroad, and/or offer something upon your return. Ideas include:
- Writing an article
- Making and/or showing a video
- Sharing a blog or website
- Offering to do a presentation
- Volunteer to work or do some type of service for them
- Ask them what they would be interested in
While they may say no, they can’t say yes if you don’t ask! If you do receive support, be sure to keep records so that you can be sure to thank them. Handwritten thank you cards are a great way to show your appreciation.
Frequently Asked Questions about Finances
For more information on scholarships and grants, visit the Financial Aid and Scholarships page.