Calculate all of your current on-campus costs. To determine your annual budget, add up your rent, meals, tuition and fees, travel expenses (don't forget any travel you might do during winter or spring breaks), entertainment, books, supplies, etc. The Office of Financial Aid has determined that the average in-state MSU undergraduate student spends approximately $23,822 per year (2011-12) on tuition and fees, room and board, transportation, books, and personal expenses (see Costs on the Office of Financial Aid webpage for details). Use this as a baseline for comparison of costs abroad, but keep in mind the cost of living at the study abroad location could be more or less than what you're presently spending. Don't plan with the idea that you will find work while abroad.\
Please visit our page on budgets and cost of living, which can help your calculate your current costs and the cost of living abroad.
Check the program information sheet and Office of Study Abroad Website for program costs. A detailed list of items included in the program fee is listed on each individual program's Webpage. It will be helpful to plan for these primary costs:
Determine your needs and interests. Compare the features and costs of various programs to find the best match. Various factors that influence the total cost of participating in a study abroad program include:
Make the program work toward your long-term goals and it will be worth the investment!
Once you know the costs, set a budget and stick to it! If you are getting outside support, itemize your list and determine what you can pay for and where you will need help.
Try to put aside 25% to 50% of your paycheck and deposit funds into a separate study abroad account (pay yourself for studying abroad first). Choose to work longer hours or get a part-time job for additional funds towards study abroad. Postpone the purchase of that big ticket item you were considering (new computer, bicycle, cell phone, etc.) and use the funds for your study abroad program instead.
Financial assistance is available when you make appropriate arrangements with MSU's Office of Study Abroad and Office of Financial Aid. If you are not currently receiving financial aid, you may apply for aid by completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) available at the Office of Financial Aid. All students are eligible for either need-based or non-need-based aid.
If you qualify for financial aid, you can utilize that aid for a study abroad program. The same scholarship, grant, and loan amounts you receive for on-campus study are applied to the study abroad program. Many students find the total amount available to be less than what they need. In those cases, a federal parent loan or private student loan can be pursued to cover the gap between the traditional financial aid package and the total cost of studying abroad. We also caution those of you who are using federal loans to study abroad to consider how using those loans will impact what you have remaining in federal loans when you return to campus.
The Office of Financial Aid can explain these issues in detail if you are considering studying abroad.
You don't want to come home from studying abroad and find out you don't have enough aid remaining to pay for the next semester.
Michigan State University offers many study abroad scholarship opportunities. Some of MSU's scholarships are administered by various colleges and units - others are administered by the Office of Study Abroad. Detailed information about these scholarship opportunities can be found on the OSA Scholarship page.
The Office of Study Abroad has scholarships available to MSU students who apply to any credit-bearing study abroad program. Some scholarships are based exclusively on academic performance; others on a combination of academic performance and financial need. The award groups are separate and very competitive. On average, 30% of OSA scholarship applicants receive an award. A generous endowment from the MSU Federal Credit Union, as well as additional support offered by the Forest Akers Endowment, MSU Alumni Association, Eleanor and Charles Greenleaf Sr., Brigitte and Thomas Huff, the Georges Jules Joyaux Memorial Fund, the Kellogg Foundation, Charles and Marjorie Gliozzo, William Haupricht and Kerry Rockquemore, Carol Welch, Martha and Keith Peters and contributors to the Overseas Study Endowment, provide funding for these scholarships.
Local professional and social societies, as well as service organizations may also provide scholarship opportunities.
Make note of, and be careful not to miss, scholarship deadlines!
As with academic and program arrangements, students must plan ahead to make the most of financial aid opportunities. While scholarships are available, most are primarily for students with high financial need. OSA recommends that students be prepared to pay the majority of program costs out-of-pocket or with federal or private loans. A recent study by the Office of Study Abroad and the Office of Financial Aid found that:
Fundraising will help to make your program more affordable and serves as a way to educate the public. If you select a program that helps achieve your long-term goals, it will be easier to solicit funds from external sources. Keep in mind that local, regional and national groups, as well as individuals, are all possible contributors.
Direct, informal appeals often work best. Be specific on how you intend to spend the funds (airfare, program fee, tuition, personal travel, special projects, etc.). Include a photo of yourself with your request so that the receiver will establish a personal connection with you. Make donating as easy as possible (cash or check), so that you're more likely to get an actual donation rather than a promise to donate, and don't be afraid to follow up if you haven't received a response. Enthusiasm, creativity, and perseverance on your part - and not fearing rejection in some instances - will likely take you a long way. Remember every little bit helps!
In exchange for your financial support, you should pledge to "give something back", such as regular updates while you are abroad. Alternatively, upon your return you could:
The keys to successful fundraising are confidence and perseverance! Keep careful records of who supported you and the amount. Be sure to express your appreciation for their support. Your energy and enthusiasm for an international experience will be contagious!