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Students with High Financial Need Abroad

One of the most popular myths surrounding studying abroad is that students with high financial need cannot afford it. However, MANY Northwestern students with high financial need DO study abroad! They study in a wide variety of locations (including Europe) and stay for terms ranging from one quarter to an entire academic year. The key to a successful experience abroad is planning. As you plan, consider how you will balance your goals for studying abroad with your financial situation.


  1. How will I budget for studying abroad?
  2. What expenses can I anticipate to help avoid unexpected costs?
    • Is the cost of living higher or lower than in the U.S.?
    • What are charges associated with withdrawing money in this country? Are there ways I can decrease these costs?
    • Will I need to use local transportation to get to and from classes? If so, are there monthly passes available, or passes available at a discounted student rate?
    • Will my meals be included in my program fee?
    • How will I keep in touch with my family? (phone card, cell phone, Skype, etc.)
  3. Will financial costs influence which programs I consider?
  4. How will I make studying abroad affordable for me?
    • What are strategies I use in the U.S. and on campus to save money? Which of these strategies can I still use abroad?
    • Is bartering generally acceptable in the country?
  5. What financial barriers might I encounter, and how will I overcome them?
    • Will I need to rely more on cash or can I use my credit/debit card?
    • Will I need to apply for a passport and/or visa? How much will this cost?
  6. How will I plan ahead if I normally have a work-study job on campus, but will not while abroad?
  7. Will I travel outside the country? How will I budget for this?
  8. What are my reasons for studying abroad? Do I need to set aside funds to achieve my goals?


  • Contact Krista Bethel, Assistant Director of Study Abroad Financial Services, to learn about how your Northwestern financial aid will apply to your study abroad program, and how to plan and budget for your expenses abroad.
  • Review the information about up-front costs and financial aid for study abroad.
  • Be sure to look at the Student Tips section to find helpful information and advice from Northwestern students who have already studied abroad. We have asked them for their perspective on many of the questions listed above!
  • Explore program options on our website, considering the questions listed above.
  • Read more about exchange rates, ATM fees, etc. while abroad.


Look into these outside funding opportunities:

  • Program sponsor need-, merit-, or location-based scholarships. Check with your program or study abroad adviser for a list.
  • Diversity Abroad Scholarship: Offers ten scholarships of $500 to US minorities studying abroad.
  • IIE Gilman Scholarship: Offers 2,300 scholarships of up to $5,000 to students eligible for Federal Pell Grants and seeks to support underrepresented students who study abroad. Learn More.
  • For a more detailed list of available scholarships, click here.

Students with high financial need may also qualify for the Northwestern Bridge Builder program, to help defray the up-front cost of booking a flight to study abroad.


  • Contact Krista Bethel, Assistant Director of Study Abroad Financial Services, to learn about how your Northwestern financial aid will apply to study abroad, and discuss any other scholarship opportunities that you might also want to pursue.
  • Speak with your study abroad adviser about your plans for study abroad and any questions you have. Schedule an appointment.
  • Contact returnees who have gone on your program to ask more specific questions about the student experience abroad.
  • Reach out to Student Enrichment Services for additional resources and support.