Financial Planning

Study Abroad Basics: Finances

For more in-depth information on finances and fees, please consult our study abroad handbook. 

Financial Aid
Financial aid CAN be used to study abroad!

Most federal, state and campus-based aid can be applied to the costs of studying on any study abroad program, much the same as if you were still on campus. Financial aid is available to help students who need assistance covering the expenses of study abroad programs.

  • 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 costs. If you have never applied or received financial aid before, you are strongly encouraged to consult with Gayla Jenkins ( in the Financial Aid Office.
    • Financial aid, including loans, scholarships and grants, is distributed no sooner than ten days before any given term. Study abroad program fees may not align with aid disbursement. Please plan accordingly. 
  • 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.
    • Students participating in non-UWM-sponsored programs that wish to use their aid must meet with their study abroad coordinator to discuss an individualized budget for their chosen program. Often a “consortium agreement” with the sponsoring institution will be needed.
  • Tuition waivers may only be applied to UWM exchange programs.
    • For military education benefits information, please contact Jim Schmidt ( in the Financial Aid Office.
Financing Study Abroad 101 Sessions
One of the best ways to learn more about cost and funding for study abroad is to attend a Financing Study Abroad 101 info session. Sessions are held once per month, and twice per week in September and February. They are co-led by the Center for International Education (CIE) and Gayla Jenkins who works as a Senior Administrative Program Specialist in the Financial Aid Office. They will show and discuss examples of study abroad budgets and explain the costs and ways in which you can use your financial aid to study abroad. In addition they will also provide guidance on obtaining potential scholarships and funding from other sources. Information on dates, times and locations of these and many other sessions can be found on our Study Abroad events page.

Costs of Programs

Students on exchange programs will be charged regular UWM tuition (without segregated fees) based on residency and graduate or undergraduate student status, in addition to the CIE study abroad administrative fees and international health insurance. All other costs are paid abroad.  

Students on all other types of study abroad programs (faculty-led, non-exchange/affiliatewill be charged a comprehensive fee in lieu of tuition, which may or may not include housing, airfare, excursions, some food, etc., in addition to study abroad administrative fees and international health insurance. The only exception to this is for students on summer study abroad who may have a combination of on-campus (tuitionbased) classes and study abroad. 

Students attending non-UWM programs will pay the majority of fees directly to their affiliate/provider/host university. They are still required to pay associated administrative and international health insurance fees to UWM.  

Consult your program’s budget sheet online or contact a study abroad coordinator for more information on charges. 

Budget Considerations

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.

For more information on program fees, please consult our study abroad handbook. 

Funding Ideas

There are many resources available to help students finance their program. They include but are not limited to, financial aid, including loans, scholarships and grants, and individual fundraising. Students are encouraged to explore any and all options. See the Scholarships and Grants page to get started.

Campus Resources

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
  • Athletics

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.

Individual Fundraising

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
  • Media
  • 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 (e.g., 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 (e.g., 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

How much will studying abroad cost?
Costs vary depending on program type and length. Students on exchange programs pay for UWM tuition, room and board while abroad, international airfare, and any incidental expenses. Students on non-exchange study abroad programs will pay a program fee instead of UWM tuition and may also be charged for room and board while abroad. Each faculty-led study abroad program participant, on the other hand, pays an equal share of the total cost of the program. Visit the Program Types page for more information.
Is my $100 application fee refundable?
No, unless you are denied acceptance into the program or the program is canceled, you will not get the $100 back.
How do I make payments?
As part of the initial application, students make one payment, the application fee, directly to CIE. This payment can be made online via credit or debit card, or in person using a personal check or money order. After being accepted to the program, the CIE Study Abroad team posts the program fees to students’ UWM PAWS accounts. Students then work through the Cashier’s Office to make payments just as they normally would for their tuition and fees on campus. Please visit the Cashier’s Office website, or in-person in Mitchell 285, for more information on payment methods.
Can I apply my normal financial aid and scholarships to study abroad?
Yes, most federal, state and campus-based aid can be applied to the costs of studying on any UWM or UWM-partner study abroad program, much the same as if you were still on campus. Financial aid is available to help UWM students who need assistance covering the expenses of study abroad programs. Students must meet Financial Aid Office guidelines and deadlines. Aid for summer and UWinteriM study abroad programs is often limited. Our office works closely with Gayla Jenkins in the Financial Aid Office at UWM. Please contact Gayla ( for questions related to your own financial aid situation.
Are there any additional scholarships and grants for study abroad?
Yes, there are several local, state and national scholarship and grant opportunities available for students. Application deadlines vary, so be sure to pay close attention to when to apply.

For more information on scholarships and grants, visit the Scholarships & Grants page.

Where can I learn more about finances, and what grants and scholarships I can apply for?
When will I find out if I will receive the Wisconsin Study Abroad Grant?
You will be notified by email about 4-6 weeks after the deadline.


For more general information please visit the full Frequently Asked Questions page.