Financing Study Abroad

Cost of Study 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, Study Abroad produces “cost sheets” which add up all anticipated expenses, including air fare and personal spending money. Sample cost sheets can be found on program pages or requested from a study abroad advisor.  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 your daughter is studying French she should probably go to France (or Senegal or Quebec or...).

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. 

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 web site.)   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 or they're earning academic credit from another university.

For a schedule delineating the Study Abroad administrative fees charged for the number of semester hours a student earns on a study abroad program, please visit our page devoted to the Cost of Studying Abroad in our students' section under "Costs & Financing."


Most students are required to pay a non-refundable deposit ($200-$500) 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 program fees are assessed.

Students participating in UI study abroad programs register for a specific course as indicated by the study abroad advisor, and are automatically billed the appropriate tuition and/or program fees according to the university’s normal billing cycle. 

UI students who choose to participate in a study abroad program offered by another U.S. or foreign university register for a standard Study Abroad course and are assessed a study abroad administrative fee (but not tuition!) at the UI.  Registration in this Study Abroad course facilitates financial aid and allows students continued access to the UI’s computer system (which means, for example, that they can register for classes via MyUI for the return semester).  Students participating in non-UI programs may also apply for any of the UI’s study abroad scholarships.  For all other program expenses, students who participate in non-UI programs deal directly with their program providers.


Since cost is frequently a constraint, students are encouraged to apply for scholarship support.Many scholarships are available and obtainable for nearly every destination. Some–totaling more than $600,000 this year–are funded by the University of Iowa, others by external institutions and organizations. More information about scholarships for study abroad here.

Scholarships from the University of Iowa and Study Abroad helped me financially, the courses at Iowa provided an excellent foundation, and professors and the staff at the Study Abroad office helped sort out all the details. – Raechel Torner, France

Financial Aid

The Office of Student Financial Aid works closely with Study Abroad to facilitate the application of financial aid toward the cost of participating in a study abroad program. In general, your student is eligible to receive all forms of financial aid while studying abroad (except work study) if he or she 1) enrolls in a program sponsored by an accredited U.S. or foreign university and 2) continues to make satisfactory progress toward his or her degree.  For more information about financial aid for study abroad, click on our Financial Aid section.