General Tips and Advice
You should start planning at least 12 months in advance of your program's start date. This allows you ample time to select a program that will fit your needs academically and financially. It also maximizes the number of scholarships for which you can apply.
Stay Within a Budget
If you anticipate $7,500 in financial aid from UH, applying for a program that costs $35,000 is not a wise choice. There are fantastic scholarships out there, but there are also fantastic programs taht are reasonably priced. The Learning Abraod team can help you identify a program that works with your budget.
Apply for Multiple Scholarships
Few scholarships exist that will pay for an entire program abroad. The most successful students seek multiple scholarship opportunities and apply to each one for which they are eligible.
Consider Programs Outside of Major Cities
Not only will this allow for a more authentic cultural immersion experience, but the cost of living in smaller cities and towns is lower and the program cost will reflect that. While a major city can feel more comfortable because of the tourism industry, you less likely to truly engage with the local culture and will pay more for your experience. Studying in a smaller city or town can help you with language acquisition.
Financial Aid & Scholarship Disbursement
Regular financial aid funds typically do not disburse until just before the start of the term at UH; you may not be able to access your funds until after your program's payment deadlines.
If your program's payment deadline is prior to the date you expect financial aid or scholarship funds to be released to you, please consider one or more of the following:
- Some affiliated program providers offer payment plans for their students. You will need to work with your provider prior to the payment due date to request this option. Please note that some payment plans may have additional fees associated with them, and that there is often a deposit or good-faith payment required that cannot be deferred until financial aid and scholarships are disbursed.
- If a payment plan is not available through your provider, you will need to find another way to cover the payment prior to the deadline to avoid late fees and/or being dropped from your program. Some suggestions include:
- Apply for a private student loan. Note that private student loans may take 10 or more days to disburse after being approved. Once your funds disburse to you, pay the loan back as soon as possible, as it may have a higher-than-average interest rate.
- Borrow funds from someone if possible. Once your funds disburse to you, pay the loan back to the person from whom you borrowed it.
Learning Abroad Financial Aid Form
Work with your Learning Abroad Advisor to complete a Learning Abroad Financial Aid Form. Please note that this form MUST be signed by a Learning Abroad Advisor in order to be valid.
Please schedule an appointment with a Learning Abroad Advisor for assistance completing this form. Information the Learning Abroad Advisor will need to know:
- Exact program cost including tuition and fees.
- If you are participating in a Faculty-Led program that takes place in the Summer or Winter and you are billed for the tuition in your Fall or Spring bill, please do not include tuition as it has already been factored into your cost of attendance.
- Exact cost of housing, if possible.
- An estimate of food expenses, if food is not included in your program fees.
- An estimate of books and other supplies, if applicable.
- An estimate of the cost of international transportation to and from your program site as well as any daily transportation costs to get from your housing to your program's location.
- An estimate for other costs that you believe should be considered.
- You MUST provide documentation for every item in the "other" category. Items in the "other" category that do not have proper documentation cannot be considered.
In most cases, the form must be presented to Financial Aid in person when it is complete.
This form serves two purposes:
- It notifies Financial Aid of your intention to use your financial aid funds toward an approved Learning Abroad program.
- It can be used to adjust your cost of attendance, which could increase the amount of aid you are eligible for (typically in loans). There is no guarantee that an increase in aid will be granted.
Scholarship Scams: Red Flags
Unfortunately there are organizations that prey on college students. Below are some of the red flags that may alert you to a scholarship scam:
Does the organization offering the scholarship guarante that all applicants will be awarded? If so, look elsewhere. No legitimate organization can guarantee that all applicants will be given an award.
If an organization offering a scholarship has a fee, this is a major red flag. These may be as little as $1.00 or as much as several thousand dollars, and may be called "application fees", "processing fees", or have other names or purposes.
No Eligibility Requirements
If you see anything that indicates few to no eligibility requirements, that is extremely suspicious. All legitimate scholarships have some requirements, the most common of which is a GPA minimum. If you see anything that says "everyone is eligible" or "anyone can apply," you may want to look elsewhere.
Requests for Personal Information
Scholarship applications should not be asking for personal information such as social security numbers or bank account numbers. Some of this information is required after receiving an award offer, but it should never be required on an initial application. This information can be used to steal your identity.
For More Information
For more information on how to spot possible scams, what to do, and how to report them, please visit finaid.org.
Financial Tips While Abroad
Create A Budget and Stick to It
Before you go abroad, determine the amount of money you can spend while abroad. Keep in mind that in most cases you will not be able to work while abroad. First, take care of the essentials: shelter, food, and transportation. Most programs include housing in their program fees, however some housing options are billed monthly or weekly. Ensure that you have funds set aside for housing for the duration of your program. Food costs will vary by location, but also by your eating and spending habits. Dining out three times per day can add up quickly. It may be wise to go to a market and purchase foods that you can prepare on your own. Transportation to and from your program site daily is also essential. Review the different public transportation options. Consider going with the least expensive option, even if it takes a little longer to get around each day.