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Finances

Billing

How am I billed for study abroad? 

When you study abroad on a Swarthmore-approved 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 if you were on campus for that semester. Students who study abroad are not billed the Student Activity fee.

How is Swarthmore billed for study abroad?

For your semester abroad, Swarthmore College is billed by your study abroad program for their tuition and fees. If your program provides housing and/or meals, Swarthmore is also billed for their room and/or board fees. 

 

Swarthmore-Covered Expenses

What is a study abroad stipend, and what does it cover?

In many cases, Swarthmore provides students with a "study abroad stipend" for various living expenses while abroad. The study abroad stipend covers groceries for meals as needed, local transportation as needed (public transportation within the host city), and sometimes funds for rent as needed. The stipend is calculated based on the cost of living in the student's host city and the duration of the program. 

How do I know if I will be receiving a stipend for my program?

You will be receiving a study abroad stipend if your program does not cover food, local transportation, and/or housing expenses. Certain programs provide some or all meals, or their own meal stipend (included in their board fees billed to Swarthmore). The Swarthmore stipend only covers meals not provided by the program (e.g., if a student receives two meals per day from their program, the Swarthmore stipend would cover one meal per day). Some programs provide students with a transportation pass or do not require local transportation, in which case students do not receive a transportation stipend. Most programs bill Swarthmore for housing, meaning that students do not need a rent stipend.

About 1-2 months before your departure, you will receive a "GEO Stipend Letter" in your GEO portal ("Documents" tab), which includes the exact stipend you will receive in each category.

If I am expecting a stipend, when will my funding be disbursed?

The stipend will be disbursed several weeks in advance of your term abroad, as a deposit to your bank account linked to Swarthmore.

Does Swarthmore cover my flight?

Global Engagement covers your round-trip flight to your study abroad location up to a "fare threshold," which is set based on the cost of a round trip from Philadelphia to the host city during your program dates. If your selected flight exceeds the "fare threshold," you will be billed the cost difference. More details are available on our Travel Logistics page.

Does Swarthmore cover my health insurance?

Yes, you will be enrolled in CISI insurance (health insurance, travel insurance, and emergency assistance). Swarthmore will automatically enroll you in CISI several weeks before departure, and you'll receive login instructions via email. You can access the CISI portal here. If you program requires a specific insurance plan other than CISI, Swarthmore also covers this additional insurance. Although your insurance abroad will be covered, you are expected to maintain your usual insurance plan (at Swarthmore or at home).

Does Swarthmore cover my program deposit?

Most programs a nonrefundable deposit be paid on the student's behalf to confirm their enrollment. Swarthmore can cover these deposits for committed students. Many programs have an agreement with Swarthmore to bill GEO for students' deposits. It is your responsibility to make sure that your program direct the deposit bill to GEO. A few programs require their deposit to be paid by the student, in which case you can request reimbursement from Swarthmore. Note that if you commit to a program then decide to withdraw, Swarthmore will bill you for the program deposit (if it has already been paid on your behalf, or if it needs to be paid and cannot be cancelled).

 

Reimbursable Expenses

How does reimbursement work?

When you pay an expense that Swarthmore can reimburse, always save a receipt. Receipts are 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.

Receipts must show the following information:

  • Date of transaction 
  • Name of merchant
  • Transaction details (what was purchased) 
  • The amount of purchase 
  • The form of payment used (credit card, cash, check) 
  • Indication that the amount was paid (i.e., cannot be a quote or estimate)

Handwritten receipts that do not contain the above information cannot be accepted.  Credit card statements alone are not acceptable in lieu of receipt.

When can I seek reimbursement?

You can submit reimbursement requests at three stages: Pre-Departure, While Abroad, and Returnee. Pre-departure reimbursement requests are typically processed several weeks before your departure. Reimbursements requested after departure typically take about one month to process.

  • The Student Request for Reimbursement Pre-Departure form will show up on your GEO portal after you have committed to a program and notified GEO.  Reimbursements that can be requested include the application fee, program deposits, and visa fees.
  • The Student Request for Reimbursement While Abroad form will show up on your GEO portal after your program start date. Reimbursements that can be requested include checked luggage (up to 2 bags, excluding bags that are included in the flight cost), transportation between the airport and your program location upon arrival, and  required course materials, and visa expenses.
  • The Student Request for Reimbursement Returnee form will show up on your GEO portal after your program end date. Reimbursements that can be requested include checked luggage (up to 2 bags, excluding bags that are included in the flight cost), transportation between the airport and your program location before your return flight, and required course materials.

All reimbursements must be submitted within 182 days (6 months) of the ending date of your program.  Failure to do so will result in the expense being declined for reimbursement.

Does Swarthmore reimburse 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 be reimbursed by Swarthmore after the student has committed to the program.

Can Swarthmore reimburse visa expenses?

Swarthmore can reimburse certain visa application expenses (e.g., processing fees, background checks, notarization fees, mailing costs, etc.). ​​​​​​

Should an in-person visa appointment be required, Swarthmore can also reimburse the cost of one round trip to a consulate/embassy by bus or (non-Acela) train up to a total amount of $125.

Note that Swarthmore is not able to reimburse visa expediting for non-programmatic reasons.  Likewise, Swarthmore will reimburse for standard visa processing but not, not premium visa services.

Can I be reimbursed for checked luggage?

Yes, GEO can reimburse up to two checked bags, excluding bags included in the cost of your flight. Luggage must be under the airline's weight limit to be reimbursed. 

Can I be reimbursed for airport transportation?

If you need to pay for transportation between the airport and the location of your program, Swarthmore can reimburse these expenses (at start and end of program).

Can I be reimbursed for required course materials?

Your program may require purchase of books and other mandatory academic materials and supplies. These expenses can be reimbursed by GEO and applied against your TAP account. Note the $790 annual maximum (for combined expenses at Swarthmore and abroad). For Swarthmore to reimburse these expenses, you need evidence that the course materials are required (e.g., course syllabi).

 

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.  

How much do vaccines cost?

Unlike childhood vaccines and routine boosters, travel-specific vaccines are typically not covered by insurance. These vaccines can be quite expensive and often require a series of multiple injections.

The cost of vaccines can vary from year-to-year as well as by location.  For planning purposes, Swarthmore’s Student Health and Wellness Center has provided the following information for travel vaccines given on-campus during the 2023-2024 academic year. 

  • Hepatitis A: $95
  • Japanese Encephalitis (2 doses): $365 per dose
  • Rabies vaccine (2 doses): $420 per dose
  • Tetanus-only booster (Td): $25
  • Typhoid: $125

Some vaccinations are not available on-campus.  For information on vaccinations not listed above and/or to evaluate what is available elsewhere, you can use GoodRx to compare costs between health services and nearby pharmacies.

  • For example: Yellow Fever is listed as available at the CVS in Target and other local pharmacies for $150-$200. 
Will Swarthmore reimburse me for personal expenses or independent travel?

You are responsible for personal expenses such as an international phone plan, clothing, toiletries, gym memberships, 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?

You are responsible for paying refundable deposits (e.g., a room damage deposit). Students need to budget for refundable deposits but can expect those funds to be returned later by their program (provided they abide by housing contracts).

Will Swarthmore reimburse me for money that is lost or stolen?

Once study abroad funds are transferred to your account, you are responsible for this money.  Some students take out personal property insurance to protect against loss.  It may even be covered by a parent/guardian home owners insurance.  However,  GEO is not in a position to reimburse you for stolen money or for any stolen items. 

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, gym membership, 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 expectation that students can instead use these funds for their own activities.  For students receiving financial aid, this amount is still included in the financial aid calculation. This means that funds that would otherwise be allocated to pay for the student activity fee, can be allocated instead to cover similar expenses. 

What happens if I incur financial holds during my time abroad?

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. Programs will not send your final transcript if you have outstanding financial obligations. 

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). If you receive any refunds from your study abroad program, please contact the Global Engagement Office.

 

Affordability

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.

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.

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.

Since I won’t be able to work abroad, how do I cover the lost income?

The financial aid office provides the opportunity for students to apply for a federal direct loan, and/or a Swarthmore College Loan to replace the amount of your campus job as noted on your financial aid decision. Students who are not eligible for a federal direct loan may be eligible for the Swarthmore College loan.  You may also choose to work extra hours during the semester before or after your study abroad experience. If you apply for summer research funding, part of that funding may also make up for lost income.

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 deducted 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 check or wire transfer) can 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?

You can find an extensive, but not comprehensive list of external scholarships on the GEO website.

What do I do if I receive a grant from my study abroad program?

Students must notify the financial aid office of external grants. A grant may result in a reduction of Swarthmore Scholarship. Students should meet with the Financial Aid Office to understand their individual situation.

What if my program starts earlier than when I would get money/refund from Swarthmore?

If your study abroad program starts earlier than when you would receive your funding/refund from Swarthmore, you will need to plan on securing funds for this period in advance (through savings, scholarships, loans, etc).  

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!