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Photo credit: Ayleah Johnson '22 (Switzerland, SIT, fall 2021)



How does billing work for study abroad? 

When you study abroad on an approved Global Engagement program, you remain registered at Swarthmore and are billed according to the regular billing cycle. Therefore, you are charged regular Swarthmore tuition, room, and board. You will receive the same financial aid for the semester abroad that you would receive on campus. Students who study abroad are not billed the Student Activity fee.

Swarthmore-Covered Expenses

What costs of study abroad are "included"?

For each semester you study abroad, Swarthmore College pays the program for their tuition, housing and food. If housing and food is not included in the program fee, Global Engagement will create a "study abroad budget" for you that includes money for groceries to prepare your own meals, and money to pay your monthly rent, among other things. The "study abroad budget" is deposited to students' bank accounts shortly in advance of their semester abroad.

Are transportation expenses covered? 

Global Engagement covers the equivalent of the cost of a round trip flight from Philadelphia to the host city. You do not need to depart from Philadelphia, but will only be covered up to the cost of this route. The "study abroad budget" covers airport transfer, as well as local transportation as required (public transportation within the host city).

Does Swarthmore cover my health insurance?

Yes, Swarthmore covers your insurance abroad. You will be enrolled in CISI insurance, unless your program includes insurance that offers equal or better coverage. You can access the CISI portal here. Swarthmore will enroll you in CISI automatically shortly before departure, and you'll receive login instructions. Although your insurance abroad will be covered, you will still be expected to maintain your usual insurance plan.

Are visa expenses covered? 

Swarthmore covers certain visa expenses upon request. All students are responsible for paying up-front costs associated with applying for a visa (processing fees, background checks, mailing costs, etc.) in advance of their program start date. Swarthmore can also reimburse the cost of one round trip to a consulate/embassy by bus or (non-Acela) train should an in-person visa appointment be required.

Eligible expenses can subsequently be reimbursed by Swarthmore. In order to receive funding, students will need to upload all receipts (in their portal) for expenses for which they are seeking reimbursement. ​​​​​​

Swarthmore is not able to reimburse visa expediting for non-programmatic reasons. The college is not responsible for transit visa fees for non-host countries.

Does Swarthmore cover the (external) application fee for my program?

Swarthmore can cover the application fee for the program that you COMMIT to. This means that only one application fee will be covered, and only if you decide to attend a program. Students are responsible for application fees at the time they submit their applications, and one fee can later be reimbursed by Swarthmore as part of the "study abroad budget."

Are textbooks and other course materials covered?

Your program may require purchase of books and other mandatory academic materials and supplies. These expenses will be applied against your TAP account (note the $750 annual maximum). If you receive information about required course materials well in advance of your program, you can request that the Swarthmore Campus and Community Store purchase materials on your behalf (please contact Global Engagement for instructions). Otherwise, you will make these purchases upfront and request reimbursement. Please save evidence that course materials are required (e.g., course syllabi), which Swarthmore needs to review before materials can be purchased or reimbursed.

Does Swarthmore cover my nonrefundable program or housing deposit?

Swarthmore can cover NONREFUNDABLE program and housing deposits, if these are billed to you. These deposits will typically be reimbursed by Swarthmore as part of the "study abroad budget" after receipts are uploaded. 

Which expenses are covered directly vs. reimbursed?

Swarthmore covers some expenses directly (either as a payment to a third party or as part of the "study abroad budget" deposited to your account before departure): 

  • Program tuition and fees
  • Housing and food
  • Flight to host city (up to a "fare threshold" based on a round trip from Philadelphia)
  • Local transportation as required (within host city)
  • Insurance abroad

Other expenses are paid by the student, then reimbursed by Swarthmore upon request:

  • Certain visa expenses
  • One application fee
  • Textbooks and other required course materials (from TAP funds)
  • Nonrefundable deposits (if billed to the student)
How do I request reimbursement for covered expenses?

When you pay an expense that Swarthmore can cover, always save a receipt, which is required to request reimbursement. After you have committed to a program and notified GEO, you can upload receipts to your GEO portal to request reimbursement. Pre-departure reimbursements are typically included in the "study abroad budget" that you shortly before your program start date. Reimbursments requested after departure typically take about one month to process. 

Student Responsibility

Will Swarthmore reimburse me for travel vaccinations and other medical expenses?

You are responsible for any out-of-pocket healthcare related expenses, including vaccines and/or medications required to participate in your program.  In general,  it is important when planning to remember that some expenses associated with your program will be your responsibility, including costs for medical requirements to attend your program.  

Will Swarthmore reimburse me for personal expenses or independent travel?

You are responsible for personal expenses such as an international phone plan, clothing, toiletries, laundry, etc. Any travel you wish to do outside of the official program will also be at your own personal expense. 

Will Swarthmore reimburse me for a refundable housing deposit?

Swarthmore does NOT reimburse refundable housing deposits. Students need to budget for refundable deposits but can expect those funds to be returned later (provided they abide by housing contracts).

What if my program does not provide a cash-free experience?

Some programs, especially direct enrollment universities, charge fees that would not be charged on a cash-free campus like Swarthmore. These fees may include laundry fees, printing fees, cleaning fees, and student club fees. Students need to plan for these fees. Swarthmore does not bill students who study abroad the Student Activity Fee, with the hope that students can instead use these funds for their own activities.

Can I work while abroad?

Most countries' visas do not allow students to work while abroad. Also, students are not allowed to continue their employment with Swarthmore remotely. If you receive work-study funds, it is important to plan for a loss of these funds during your semester abroad.

How much money should I save for my term abroad?

The savings you'll need depend on your intended program. Some programs, especially programs run by third-party providers, include most living costs in the fee they bill to Swarthmore, and less money needs to be saved. Other programs, especially direct enrollment programs, involve various fees paid by the student (which are either reimbursed by Swarthmore or the student's responsibility). It's important to research the amount of savings that your program recommends for costs not covered by Swarthmore. When in doubt, you can contact your program or GEO.

How can I plan for my expenses overseas?

You are encouraged to create a budget for your abroad experience and stick to it while you're abroad. Consider your costs for personal expenses, independent travel, immunizations, travel medications, and the loss of the campus work opportunity for the semester. Remember to budget for unexpected expenses, which will inevitably arise.


Are there ways to get additional funding for my study abroad semester?

Yes. There are many scholarships available for study abroad. Many programs offer scholarships for their students, usually intended for a specific audience (financial need scholarships, study abroad ambassador positions, diversity scholarships; etc). There are also federal and national scholarships and grants that you can apply for. Note that scholarships that are deducted directly from your program tuition or fees will not benefit you financially (since you pay Swarthmore's tuition and fees, and Swarthmore pays tuition and fees to your program). Scholarships awarded to you directly (e.g., as a deposit to your bank account) will often benefit you but may impact your financial aid from Swarthmore. Always let the Financial Aid Office know if you have been awarded an outside scholarship.

What are some specific scholarships that might be available?
  • Benjamin Gilman Scholarship. Awards Pell-grant eligible students up to $5000, and gives preference to underrepresented applicants, and less common study abroad locations.
  • Boren Scholarships. An initiative of the National Security Education Program, provide unique funding opportunities for U.S. undergraduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests, and underrepresented in study abroad.
  • BUTEX Scholarships for North American Students. Open to undergraduate students currently enrolled at an institution in the U.S. or Canada, for study for a semester or academic year at a BUTEX-affiliated institution in the U.K. Each scholarship is for 500 pounds, payable after awardees have arrived and registered at the host university.
  • Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX). A fellowship funded by the German Bundestag and U.S. Department of State, that annually provides 75 American and 75 German young professionals, between the ages of 18½–24, the opportunity to spend one year in each other’s countries, studying, interning, and living with hosts on a cultural immersion program.
  • Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program. An intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program for American students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities. The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. CLS is part of a wider government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity. CLS plays an important role in preparing students for the 21st century's globalized workforce and increasing national competitiveness. The Critical Language Scholarship Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government. It is supported in its implementation by American Councils for International Education.
  • Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship. This 4-week summer program is offered to twelve exceptional student leaders of color will be selected to conduct a comparative study of social justice leadership in America, South Africa, and Ireland.
  • Freeman-Asia. Provides scholarships for U.S. undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need to study abroad in East or Southeast Asia.
  • Fund for Education Abroad. Different scholarships opportunities for study abroad. Directed towards students from underrepresented groups.
  • Gilman DAAD Germany Scholarship. Awards 40 additional scholarships to US undergraduate students to study and/or intern for academic credit in Germany. Successful applicants will receive up to $5,000 in study grants for up to one academic year.
  • General Federation of Women's Clubs of Massachusetts. Offers up to $500 in scholarships to students whose permanent home is in Massachusetts who will study abroad during the summer, fall, spring, or academic year.
  • Graduate Women International Grants and Scholarships. Amount varies. The fellowships and grants offered by GWI and its national affiliates support the research, study and training needed to open doors to quality higher and continuing education for women and girls throughout the world.
  • HACU. Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities. Funding opportunities for students with Hispanic background.
  • Languages.State.Gov. The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs' (ECA) USA Study Abroad branch recently launched Languages.State.Gov, a one-stop resource for information on language scholarships and training programs offered by the federal government. The site brings together in one spot information on domestic and overseas language programs funded by the Departments of State, Defense, and Education, as well as the National Security Agency, and offers an interactive quiz that Americans can take to find the language program that fits their personal and professional goals.
  • Monbukagakusho (MEXT) Scholarship. Awards are open to undergraduates studying the Japanese language, Japanese affairs or culture at a university outside of Japan. Must be U.S. citizens between the ages of 18 and 29. Only open to students from Connecticut (Fairfield County only), Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands.Students must be able to study at a Japanese University in Japanese for a full year.
  • Plato's Resources. Lists scholarship and financial aid information for students of color in higher education and study abroad
  • St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia. $35,000 award. Open to students who will study for the academic year at the University of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, or St. Andrews. Institutional nomination is required. For more information visit Swarthmore’s Office of Fellowships and Prizes.
  • Turkish Coalition of America Scholarships.TCA's scholarship program encourages students to choose Turkey as a study abroad destination. TCA scholarship recipients build people-to-people bridges between the U.S. and Turkey, and the program has served to engage a new generation of young Americans who have cultivated an interest in Turkey and Turkish culture, thus fulfilling TCA's mission.
  • US-Japan Bridging Foundation.  Bridging Scholarships are open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
  • QS Top Universities Scholarships Listing. Lists different scholarships options according to several different filters.
What can I do if I'm still worried about being able to afford this experience?

If you are concerned about how you might cover your expenses while abroad, please contact the Financial Aid Office. They can talk to you about different low-interest loan options. While taking out a loan may be something you are trying to steer away from, sometimes a small loan can go a long way while you are abroad. Study abroad alumni have mentioned how knowing the money was there in case they really needed it was helpful. And if you decide not to use the money, you can pay it right back when you return to campus!


Managing Money Abroad

How do I access money while abroad?

You should plan to bring about $100-200 USD for initial expenses, saving some for emergencies as well as expenses on your return home. Never travel without at least some cash at hand, including during your time abroad. Upon arrival in your host country’s airport, you should get some local currency from an ATM or at a currency exchange counter if possible. In some countries, credit cards can be a convenient option in stores and restaurants, while in other countries cash is the most common form of payment. The most commonly accepted cards abroad are Visa and Master Card.

Do I need to contact my bank?

If you are planning to use credit or debit cards abroad, make sure to set a travel notice with your bank ahead of time, and make sure you have your bank's 24/7 international number in case your cards get lost or stolen. Before you go abroad, call your bank or credit union and find out about any fees, and options for reducing them. There can be steep fees for using both credit cards and ATMs abroad. Some banks have partnerships with banks abroad, where you can withdraw money without incurring fees. Sometimes it makes sense to set up an account with a local bank abroad.

What do I need to do before I come back to the U.S.?

Be sure to resolve any financial matters before you leave, as they are so much more difficult to handle once you're no longer local. These include small things, like outstanding library fines, and bigger issues such as security deposits. In the case of security deposits, make sure you understand how the deposit will be returned (i.e., the amount, currency, where it will be returned and when). Programs will not send your final transcript if you have outstanding financial obligations. If you receive any refunds from your study abroad program, please contact the Global Engagement Office.