5 Ways to Pay for Study Abroad

5 Ways to Pay for Study Abroad

by Jenn Weisgerber, CISabroad Scholarship Team

Saving money can be the worst! Especially when it’s a big-ticket item, because it just takes so dang long to reach that large milestone. Figuring out how to pay for study abroad can definitely feel overwhelming, but don’t worry! We’re here with 5 ways to pay for your study abroad experience that will get you saving in no time.

1. Make the most of your financial aid and scholarships.

The earlier you start planning in this area, the better. In most cases, your financial aid can be used to pay for your program costs. We believe that study and intern abroad opportunities are for EVERYONE, so we work hard to stay one of the most affordable providers out there – without sacrificing the experiences abroad we know you want. CISabroad offers six different scholarships multiple times a year. To make the most of scholarships, though, cast a wider net – earn a Gilman, Golden Key, or Diversity Abroad award, and CISabroad will add a bonus grant!

2. Get high-tech with your saving tactics.

Pay for Study Abroad GIF_Professor Frink

Find it really challenging to save cold, hard cash to pay for study abroad? Save a few pennies at a time with an app that rounds up routine bank transactions to a threshold you set and holds the money in a separate account until you’re ready for it. There are quite a few new apps out there that can help you save – check out Qapital, Unsplurge, or Digit. Also check out this list of powerful money-saving apps from NerdWallet.

3. Hold the biggest tag sale ever.

Pay for Study Abroad_GIF_Tag Sale

Roll up your sleeves over the summer and ask your family and friends if they’d be willing to donate their finest vintage finds and in-demand collectibles — or whatever is taking up space in their basement! You’d be surprised at how much cash a well-publicized tag sale (or rummage sale, depending on where you live) can bring in to help you pay for study abroad, especially if you schedule it during a weekend with popular events in your community. List it online, in the newspaper (yes, that old thing!), and flier around town responsibly.

4. Look to your networks for support.

Pay for Study Abroad GIF_To Cash Flow

Yes, we’re talking about crowdfunding, but you can do it in a way that doesn’t come off entitled or makes you go on Shark Tank. How? Don’t blast it all over social media (well, maybe around your birthday), but instead email links individually to friends and family, asking them to contribute to your time abroad in lieu of birthday or other presents throughout the year. Show the return on their investment – send them links to the CISabroad program you’re interested in and let them know how this opportunity fits into your life goals. Although you’ll definitely make memories to last a lifetime, it’s more than just a fun summer – you’ll now be a part of the 10% of U.S. college students who study abroad.

5. Roll up those sleeves – and tighten that wallet.

Pay for Study Abroad GIF_Big Wallet

These two may not be the answers at the top of your list, but it’s important to be invested in your own life – literally. Look for a part-time job (or second one) during holiday break, spring break, or the summer that will allow you to stash away even more money. And the hardest part? Changing your behavior in order to save – but it feels good to look out for your future self. Bypassing that venti latte every day or that weekly night out with friends can translate into an extended stay abroad, experiential add-ons like our Explore Europe weekends, and if you’re anything like us, even more delicious food while you’re abroad!

Finally, remember that every penny counts – literally. Combine a few different fundraising tactics, and before you know it, you’ll see that savings account rise. Not only will your time abroad be a transformative experience, you’ll feel proud that you contributed so much to getting yourself there.

Pay for Study Abroad Gif_Worked so hard for this

Still worried about if you can pay for study abroad or an internship abroad? Trust us, it’s totally within your reach. Any of our CISabroad advisors (Chris, Brittany G, Pat, or Brittany D) would love to talk to you about affordable options that work for your major, as well as share more pro tips. Reach them via email, chat, or go old-school with the phone at 1-877-617-9090.

Not ready to talk yet? Watch these tips on Traveling on a Budget from CISabroad alumni Debra Castro, who interned abroad in Barcelona, Spain.

DID YOU KNOW? Use the code EARLYSUMMER on your program application by Feb. 1 and save $100 on ANY CISabroad Summer 2018 program. #smartsaver

Top 10 Reasons to Choose a Non-Traditional Program

Katie Fassbinder

Katie Fassbinder, CISabroad Program Manager and returned Peace Corps Volunteer, manages study and intern applications in Ghana, Oman, South Africa, Costa Rica and January Multi-Country. Which destination will you choose this academic year?


All study abroad is unique, whether it be that time you spent 10 months tasting your way through the markets of Bangkok or two weeks on a faculty-led field course to Paris. Most time well spent overseas will broaden your perspective, give you more insight into a different culture and history, and build your self-awareness of your role in a changing world. Many students this term will chose to go someplace they have heard of, somewhere familiar to them at least from books and films, because let’s face it–being away from family and friends alone for four months can be terrifying! It can, also however, bring you a life-changing experience–one that will, for example, change your path from studying politics in Iowa, to joining the Peace Corps, working in Turkey, and studying Mandarin in your free time. I implore you, however, to consider choosing a destination that might not have crossed your radar–for only the reason that you’ve never heard of it. Here’s why…

CISabroad Instagram1. You will learn and experience things you can’t get from books and movies. Did you know that every year you can watch thousands of sea turtles migrate from the Arabian Gulf, the Red Sea, and Somalia to lay their eggs on Oman’s shores? Or that South Africa’s Stellenbosch has vineyards that rival Napa Valley at a fraction of the price? Have you heard of the Wli waterfalls in Ghana, where you can swim surrounded by butterflies?

2. There are fewer tourists off the beaten path. Some students wish to immerse themselves in the unknown and live like a local. This can be hard to do if all of your flatmates are American, and you find yourself surrounded by Americans at every destination. If you are thinking of going to a country you suspect might bring in a handful of tourists–or ten, try picking a city outside of the capital for your stay. Often times, you’ll feel more integrated and less like a tourist in a smaller town like Aix en Provence over, say, Paris. Not to mention what it will do for your language skills. (Don’t worry, you can still go to Paris on the weekends!)

3. You will develop marketable expertise and language skills. Some of us are still struggling with Spanish after four years. But fear not–nontraditional doesn’t necessarily mean non-English speaking! You can get by in most places with pointing, grunts, and nodding, but there are many countries you might not expect where English is the official language, or at least the language of instruction in universities. For those who have mastered their high school Spanish and are looking for a new challenge–why not check out Xhosa, Twi, or Arabic? Future employers in all fields will see that additional language on your resume as your time devoted to self-discipline, and more customers or a new market they can reach. And nontraditional languages? Master one of those and some people in the government may be using you as their next translator. *Note: Smiles are universal.

CISabroadSouthAfrica4. There are often more financial aid and scholarships up for grabs. The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and the Boren both award students for learning less commonly taught languages in underrepresented study abroad locations. There are also loads of scholarships available at your home university and less typical study abroad countries’ universities to encourage students to apply. Not to mention, if you apply to the same program or destination as many other people from your school, you are less likely to get funding just because it’s automatically more competitive. For a list of more scholarship opportunities, click on CISabroad Scholarship website, and talk or chat  with a CISabroad advisor.

5. Speaking of funding…Studying outside of major cities, popular destinations, tourist hubs, (or outside of Europe in general) means cheaper prices and better cost of living. Your money will go much further in Quito than it will in London, which means more traveling, better eating, cheaper textbooks, and more pocket money. Spending all your student loan money on housing is no fun, especially when as a student on a budget, Taco Bell can pass as an appropriate date night.

6. Surprising luxuries and comforts. You may not get the kind of luxury you’re used to here in the U.S., but you can find the comforts of home anywhere if you try. This especially helps if you have good friends and a supportive host family (if you chose). You may be surprised to know also that you can find a KFC or McDonald’s in just about every country in the world. And, depending on your budget, some of you may be able to live even better abroad than you can as a student in the U.S. But, even if by chance you had to go without hot water for a few weeks, wouldn’t it be worth it if you could swim in the ocean every day?

thailand7. Hospitality, a home away from home–and a healthy routine. Chances are, less visited towns will want to know why you, yourself, are visiting! Places full of tourists can often be more expensive and a little burnt out by the comings and goings of nonfamiliar people, but someone new in a smaller town often brings about a sense of curiosity and friendliness in the locals that you should take advantage of! Use this chance to meet new people, make new friends, break old habits, and develop a well-rounded routine. Practice your language, learn an instrument, study at the local coffee shop, go hiking with some students in your classes, and invite your neighbors over for a meal!

8. Get to know yourself. There is no wrong study abroad. Living anywhere new can (and will) test your patience. It may seem difficult to understand the system of traffic in Thailand, why they drive on the left side of the road in South Africa, and how to queue in China. But testing your patience will often increase it, and opens you up to a whole new way of living, thinking, and learning in this world. As you might have heard, a life unexamined isn’t worth living (Socrates), and if you’re examining a very different place, you’ll spend a lot more time thinking about how we do it too, and maybe how together we can make the world a better place.

9. Expectations are never as you expect. Embrace the unknown. Your study abroad will not be exactly as you picture it. Your housing will not be the same as it is at your home university. Your classes might be easier, harder, or a different kind of pedagogy than you’re used to. Your host family may be atypical. Your new peers could may do things a bit differently. That’s the beauty of study abroad. You’ll never know until you get there. If you assume everything will pan out like Eat, Pray, Love or Amélie, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. With all programs, keep an open mind and make sure that you are choosing a program that fits your academic needs and budget. Everything else will fall into place.

oman10. You may never have a reason or another opportunity. What reason will you ever have to go to Muscat, Oman? When will you get another chance to see such important student movements in South Africa? Wouldn’t it be great to get credit for studying Spanish in a place where people actually speak Spanish? Why not intern in China now rather than later? You may be able to get a cheap flight to London or Rome to see the sights someday, but when else will you be able to say that you spent four months in Cusco, absorbed in the culture, in love with your host family, and walked the Inca Trail?


After graduation we swear to ourselves: we’ll get there, we can afford it then, but the truth is–it can be harder to do, and much harder to justify without the academic credit and financial aid. Any experience abroad can be worthwhile and something you carry with you the rest of your life. Don’t rule out a country just because you don’t know too much about it. I guarantee if you spend a little time on google and talking with an advisor, you’ll have a lot to look forward to in any country. Now is the time to use your independence and choose your own adventure. Try something new and remember to lean into your discomfort-it’s where the magic happens!

GSA_partner_logo_orange One of the most important decisions in your academic tenure is the decision to study abroad. CISabroad, a commitment partner with IIE, encourages you to become a part of #GenerationStudyAbroad. Whether you choose a non-traditional location or not, CISabroad is here to help you reach your academic and global potential abroad. Which road will you travel?


Fundraise to Study Abroad

KalinaHello everyone, my name is Kalina Philalom! I am a junior Public Health major at The University of Massachusetts Amherst. I am  beyond excited about going to Costa Rica this summer with CISabroad! Since I came into UMass as a freshman, I have always dreamed of traveling abroad and expanding my cultural knowledge and global experience. Although my destination might have changed a few, or a hundred, times, my passion for wanting to go has not.

With my senior year approaching, the travel bug has definitely latched on and is in full effect. The only obstacle I am facing is a lack of financial means, which I know a lot undergraduate students struggle with as well. However, I am determined that “not having enough money” to go abroad will not be a reason that it does not happen.

One way I am fundraising for my Costa Rica trip is constantly updating and promoting my FundMyTravel Campaign. The great thing about FundMyTravel is that you receive the money as soon as it is donated to you! Another way I am finding funds is by searching and applying for scholarships. Most scholarship deadlines have already passed, however, there are still a few out there.

My advice is to search and apply early, and consistency is key! CISabroad provided me with external links on where to search for scholarships. Aside from that, we all know how resourceful Google can be!

My goal of $6,665 has not yet been met, but I am confident that it will be! To read my story, share my campaign, and/or donate to my trip, click on the following link:


Costa Rica

Campus in Costra Rica where I will be studying!

Costa Rica

I’m excite to explore Costa Rica

Breathtaking Waterfall at Arenal