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Financing your Education Abroad

When you plan your education abroad participation, it is important for you to consider financial aspects of your program from the beginning. Make sure you understand how much your program is going to cost you, what it includes, what other expenses you should anticipate, and ways to fund your education abroad experience.

Different program fees and payment methods apply for various programs at UNC. In general, four payment plans exist:

  1. UNC Exchange Program: You will pay normal tuition and fees to UNC while paying for room and board upon arrival to the host institution.
  2. International Student Exchange Program: You will pay all tuition, fees, and room and board charges to UNC.
  3. International Student Exchange Program, Direct: You will receive an invoice from the UNC study abroad coordinator and then pay fees directly to ISEP. Some programs include tuition and room and board, thus they will be included on the invoice and paid directly to ISEP. Other ISEP programs only include tuition and room (to be paid to ISEP), and meal expenses will be paid in country. You should know what the program includes at time of application.
  4. Affiliated Study Abroad Program: You will pay all charges to the program provider. Most program providers require all charges be paid in advance, but payment plans can be established to work around financial aid issues.
  5. UNC Faculty-Led Program: You will pay tuition to UNC and sometimes that will include a program fee, other times the program costs will be paid directly to the program provider. Each page will indicate which payment method will be applied for individual programs.

Program Fees

Fees for UNC affiliated programs may cover the costs of housing, tuition, meals, books, local transportation, excursions and orientation, depending upon the site. Fees for ISEP direct enrollment programs and UNC Exchange Programs tend to cover administrative fees, pre-departure mailings,and orientation.

Costs generally not covered in the program fees include international airfare, transportation within the country, health insurance, and visa fees where applicable. Miscellaneous costs and personal expenses are the responsibility of each participant.

Study Abroad/Exchange Administration Fee

All students who study abroad pay a $330 administrative fee that directly supports the study abroad operation within the Center for International Education at UNC. In addition to funding personnel, publications, programs, and supplies, the revenue from this charge supports the following services:

  • Individual and group advising on opportunities and procedures for study abroad
  • Pre-departure and Re-Entry Orientations
  • Assistance with UNC procedures for transfer of credit and financial aid
  • Communication with host institutions, program sponsors, and serve as liaison to other UNC offices
  • Assistance with registration for students going abroad
  • Other study abroad programming: Marketing Your International Experience to Potential Employers, Financing Study Abroad 101, What's Next: Staying International, etc.

The administrative service charge is $330 per semester for all semester programs. The charge for ISEP program applicants is $200. The charge for faculty-led programs, non-credit bearing internships, and international student teaching is $150. The Study Abroad/Exchange Administrative charge is billed to the student's UNC account for each term he or she is abroad.

Additional Costs to Consider

In addition to tuition, room, and board, there are several other costs that should be taken into consideration when choosing a study abroad destination/program. These costs can vary greatly from country to country, but are an important factor when making a decision. Use the Study Abroad Budget Planning Worksheet to help determine estimated costs in comparing different programs.

  • International and On-Site Transportation
    How much is it going to cost you to get to your destination? Is your residence far from your host campus? What is the cost of public and in-country transportation in my host country?
  • Passports, Photographs, Visas, and Immunizations
    Some countries have hefty visa application fees, require FBI background checks, and/or require out-of-state travel. If you do not have a passport, the cost of a new passport is around $135 plus the cost of photos. For some locations, immunizations are required or recommended.
  • Health Insurance
    Additional coverage may be required as part of the visa process for some countries, including Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, and Germany, among others.
  • Personal Travel
    These expenses will vary from student to student based on personal finances. In some areas of the world the cost of travel is more than in other locations. Does your program include excursions that you would take on your own anyway?
  • Housing Deposits
    Some schools require a housing deposit that is held until you depart. This can range from $100-$500.
  • Cost of Living
    Programs in expensive countries, particularly those located in major cities, typically cost more, as well as require more money for daily living expenses such as cell phone, entertainment, eating out, personal incidentals, groceries, etc. For example, Australia, Scandinavia, and the United Kingdom have high costs of living.
  • Currency Exchange Rate
    Visit OANDA to determine the current exchange rate in your host country.

Can I use Financial Aid to Study Abroad?

UNC students with federal financial aid will be able to utilize most, if not all, of their award package for their education abroad credit-bearing program. All students who have completed and submitted their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to the Office of Financial Aid by the appropriate deadlines will be considered for federal financial assistance each year. Students cannot use federal work-study awards to pay for their study abroad experience. You must be enrolled full-time  (minimum of 12 UNC credit hours) to be eligible for financial aid while abroad.

When deciding on a program, you should use the Study Abroad Budget Planning Worksheet to help compare various programs. You should then meet with Justin Davis in the Office of Financial Aid (OFA) to get an idea of the amount of financial aid for which you are eligible. Additional aid may be granted to you in the likelihood the program you are attending is more expensive than educational expenses at UNC.

To receive financial aid, students must adhere to all deadlines, policies, and procedures of the Financial Aid Office. Most scholarships awarded outside of UNC may be used upon approval of the scholarship donor. Contact individual scholarship donors for verification of this. For scholarships supported by the UNC foundation, pre-approval from financial aid must be granted. Do not count on scholarships as a funding source until you have written approval from the donor.

Receiving Financial Aid Abroad

  1. Complete Study Abroad Budget Form with your Study Abroad Advisor after application and acceptance to your program. Turn this form into Justin Davis in the OFA to approve eligibility.
  2. Complete the Enrollment Verification Form for each semester you are abroad and send to the Study Abroad Director. This form can only be completed once you have arrived at your intended study site and have enrolled in courses. The form requires you to list the course names and number of credits for each course. The on-site international coordinator will need to sign this form before you email it to your Study Abroad Advisor at CIE.
  3. Study Abroad Director will verify full-time enrollment and notify the Registrar's Office and the Office of Financial Aid. If you are unsure of the credit system at your school, see if your school is listed or ask your host institution coordinator.
  4. Your aid will be disbursed to your bank account on file with UNC within a few days of receipt of your Enrollment Verification Form and confirmation of full-time enrollment abroad.

Since your financial aid will not be dispersed before you enroll in courses, you will need to bring enough money to get by until courses begin.

errorPlease review and be sure you understand UNC's policy on enrollment status necessary to receive financial aid. Additionally, an “F”, “W”, or “U” grade requires the submission of a last date of a student’s “academic-related activity”.  “UW” grades are only submitted when the student never attended the class. As outlined by the U.S. Department of Education (34 CFR 668.22), the submission of the ‘Last Date of Attendance’ is necessary to ensure that any student receiving a failing grade actually attended the class and, therefore, is eligible for any federal financial aid they may have received. 

Your financial aid will not be release until this form has been received by the Study Abroad Coordinator and she has verified full-time enrollment at your host school.

Though UNC does not have many scholarships available for study abroad yet, there are a lot of scholarships available through foundations, non-profits, governments, private donors, and UNC affiliated program providers. We strongly encourage you to apply to one or many of them. Of course, this is not a comprehensive list of all the opportunities available.