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Money Matters

students walking toward a building in open landscape in Denmark

Photo credit: Rebecca Putnam '24 (Denmark, DIS, spring 2022)

Cost of Study Abroad

Wondering about the cost of study abroad? Here are the nuts and bolts:

  • If you study off campus, you remain registered at Swarthmore, are billed according to the regular billing cycle, and keep all awarded financial aid. You are charged for Swarthmore College tuition, housing, and food for each semester abroad.
  • For each semester you study off campus, Swarthmore College pays the program 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" also covers local transportation as required, the application fee to the program that you commit to, airport transfer, books, and the cost of student visa.
  • Global Engagement covers up to the cost of a round trip flight from Philadelphia - host city.
  • You are enrolled in CISI insurance, unless your program includes insurance that offers equal or better coverage. 

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, personal 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. 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 are back on campus!

Managing Money 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. There can be steep fees for using both credit cards and ATMs abroad. Before you go, call your bank or credit union and find out about any fees, and options for reducing them. 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. 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.

Study Abroad Scholarships

Many study abroad programs offer scholarship opportunities. We encourage you to apply to any to which you are qualified - be sure to search the program's website for scholarships (or inquire with the program rep!)  If you receive financial aid, you need to check with the Financial Aid Office how receipt of an outside scholarship may affect your funding at Swarthmore.

Here are a few scholarship opportunities and searchable scholarship databases:

Benjamin Gilman Scholarship ​​​​

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

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

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)​​​​​

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 Program (CLS)

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

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

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

Fund for Education Abroad. Different scholarships opportunities for study abroad. Directed towards students from underrepresented groups.

Gilman DAAD Germany Scholarship

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

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

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. 

Language Scholarships by the State Department

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

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

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

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 the Office of Fellowships and Prizes.

Turkish Coalition of America Scholarships

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

US-Japan Bridging Foundation.  Bridging Scholarships are open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

QS Top Universities Scholarships Listing

QS Top Universities Scholarships Listing. Lists different scholarships options according to several different filters.