Cost of Studying Abroad

Cost is obviously a factor students need to consider when selecting a program—or deciding whether or not to study abroad. (We would argue, of course, that the benefits of studying abroad justify the expense.)

Costs vary considerably by program. We encourage students to “shop around”, selecting programs that match their pocketbooks as well as meeting their academic and personal goals.

When comparing program fees, students need to look carefully at what’s included and what’s not included. For each UI study abroad program, the Study Abroad office produces “cost sheets” which add up all anticipated expenses, including air fare and personal spending money. Students participating in non-UI programs would need to collect similar information from their program provider.

While important, cost is only one factor among many when selecting a program. Although it would cost a resident student less to participate in our exchange with the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa than to participate in our Critical Studies Program in Paris, if you are studying French you should probably go to France (or Senegal or Quebec or...).

Mandatory Study Abroad Administrative Fees

Students studying abroad remain enrolled at the University of Iowa, with all the attendant benefits, but are not charged regular UI tuition or mandatory fees unless they’re participating in an exchange program.  Students do, however, pay a study abroad administrative fee.  The UI is not unique in charging these fees. During the last decade most public universities have moved to a “fee-based” model, shifting more of the cost of studying abroad to the students actually studying abroad.

Depending on the program, the administrative fee may appear as a separate charge or it may be included in an overall program fee.  In either case, the fee is determined in the same way for all students each session in all programs.  Students pay a $400 “base fee” plus 17% of tuition for the appropriate number of semester hours awarded by the University of Iowa. 

Sample Study Abroad Administrative Fees, Effective Summer '13
Program Session s.h. Fees Resident Fees Nonresident
UI short-term 1 $448 $448
UI short-term 2 $496 $496
UI short-term 3 $544 $544
UI short-term 4 $592 $592
UI short-term 5 $640 $1305
UI short-term 6 $688 $1486
UI short-term 7 $736 $1667
UI short-term 8 $784 $1848
UI short-term 9 $832 $2029
UI short-term 10 $880 $2210
UI short-term 11 $928 $2391
UI semester 12 $976 $2572
UI semester exchange 12 $400 $400
Non-UI any 0 $400 $400

The study abroad administrative fees are based on 17% of tuition for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.  (Tuition and fees are posted on the Office of the Registrar’s website.)   For 2013-14, 17% amounts to $48 per s.h. for resident students and $181 per s.h. for nonresident students.  Note that there is no difference in tuition for ≤ 4 s.h.  Students participating in a UI exchange program or in a program offered by another institution do not pay the 17% tuition portion of the administrative fee because they’re already paying tuition & fees to the UI (exchange program) or earning academic credit from another university and paying tuition and fees directly to them (external study abroad program.) 

Mandatory Travel Insurance For UI Students Traveling Abroad For Educational Purposes

All students studying abroad must follow UI International Programs Study Abroad procedures regarding travel insurance. Students traveling abroad under the auspices of the University of Iowa are required to register their travel with the Study Abroad office, and to submit paperwork pertaining to health, safety, and liability issues, including a photocopy of their passport. They are also required to purchase the Regents International Health Insurance plan and will be automatically signed up for the coverage and billed for it when they register for the appropriate study abroad course section. The cost is currently $1.15 per day. This amount may change for programs departing on or after March 1, 2015. An update will be posted to this site during the Fall 2014 semester. Students registered in any “165:XXX" study abroad course will see the insurance cost appearing as a charge on the U-bill separate from the study abroad course fee.

Detailed instructions may be found on the Study Abroad website under Health Insurance Information and International Travel Insurance Plan FAQs for UI Students.


Check with your study abroad advisor to get the specifics about the overall cost and billing for your program. Most students are required to pay a non-refundable deposit ($200-$800) after being admitted into a UI study abroad program. The deposit will later appear as a credit on the student’s U-bill, usually at the same time the course fee is assessed.

Students participating in a UI-administered study abroad program register for a specific course, e.g. "165:805 Iowa Regents Semester in Wales," and are subsequently U-billed the appropriate insurance fee, tuition and/or program fees according to the university’s normal billing cycle.

UI students who choose to participate in an external study abroad program not administered by UI register for "165:500 Study Abroad" and are assessed an insurance fee and a study abroad administrative base fee on the U-bill. The base fee does not include a 17% tuition assessment since the credit is awarded by—and corresponding fees paid to—an external US or foreign institution. Registration in 165:500 facilitates financial aid and allows students continued access to the UI’s computer system (e.g. they can register for classes via ISIS for the return semester). Students participating in non-UI programs may also apply for any of the UI’s study abroad scholarships. For all additional program expenses, students who participate in non-UI programs deal directly with their program providers.