Afford study abroad without breaking bank

St. Etienne Cathedral in Metz, France, the home of GT Lorraine. // Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech Lorraine

International travel is currently restricted for most of the world, but there is much that students who want to study abroad during their time at Tech can do now to make these dreams a reality.

At the Office of International Education’s (OIE) How to Study Abroad session, Education Abroad Scholarships Advisor, Ashlee Toomey-Flinn, emphasized that there are many opportunities for funding study abroad and that oftentimes it can be cheaper than a semester on Tech’s campus. Not all programs are a perfect fit for everyone.

“If you choose to go on a program that goes to an expensive city or is a faculty-led study abroad program, those are really, really great programs and they offer a lot of opportunities for you,” said Toomey-Flinn.

“However, sometimes those come at a cost.”

There are other options that could be cheaper.

“We have a lot of choice that’s open to you,” said Toomey-Flinn. “… We don’t want you to think that you’re limited to just one thing. We want you to investigate the options that are open to you.”

A full breakdown of program costs, language of instruction, weeks per term, as well as other important information and tools to search for programs are all on atlas.gatech.edu, Tech’s study abroad application portal. There are several components to a program’s budget.

“We need to account for all the things that are necessary to study in Atlanta for whenever you’re abroad,” said Toomey-Flinn. “So that’s in-state and out-of-state tuition, then there’s any fees associated with the program, the program charge … they also account for any out of pocket expenses that their students have said that they’ve had in the past, and then also the round trip airfare.”

When considering whether to study abroad with a faculty-led program, exchange or by doing a global internship, the costs may be a deciding factor.

“If you’re an out-of-state student, an international student, whenever you study abroad with Georgia Tech, you’re, for the most part, going to pay the in-state tuition,” said Toomey-Flinn.

A notable exception to this is the GT Lorraine (GTL) program, which charges out-of-state students the in-state tuition rate but with an added out-of-state fee of $6,050. Additionally, group programs such as the Oxford Summer Program tend to be more expensive.

“It’s also really important to know that when you study abroad with Georgia Tech that your financial aid is going to travel with you. That includes HOPE and Zell Miller,” said Toomey-Flinn.

Federal Pell Grants, student loans and other campus scholarships also travel with students when they study abroad. To search for study abroad scholarships, visit ea.oie.gatech.edu/find-scholarships to filter scholarships by topics such as region of the world, semester and program.

There are typically two to three application cycles per year to apply for the OIE Administered Scholarships with deadlines falling on Oct. 15 and Feb. 15.

“Our average scholarship award amount is about $2,500 but we do have a couple of scholarships that are $3,000 or $7,000,” said Toomey-Flinn. “It just kind of depends on the application pool. These are quite competitive.

Typically, it’s a 7-10% acceptance rate.” Besides OIE Administered Scholarships, there are Tech specific scholarships for programs such as GTL and Language for Business and Technology programs (LBATs), location specific scholarships and national scholarships.

“Most national competitions are looking for students who are underrepresented in study abroad,” said Toomey-Flinn, who explained that underrepresented groups in study abroad include males, STEM majors and racial and ethnic minority students who typically face more barriers when studying abroad. National scholarships include the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS), Boren Awards and Gilman Scholarship. It can also be financially feasible to intern abroad.

“We have students who can intern in research, industry, non-profit, startups and non-governmental settings,” said Toomey-Flinn. “Most of these positions are paid and they’re not like a Google salary, but they’re usually paid at the local cost of living, so that usually allows students to be there for a semester.” For help with study abroad scholarship applications, Toomey-Flinn is available to meet with students. Besides scholarships, Toomey-Flinn highlights that there are non-traditional options to raise money, such as fundraising, working campus jobs or using other skills and networks.

In regards to studying abroad with the COVID-19 situation, Toomey-Flinn highly recommends to contact program directors for additional information.

“You can do and have great study abroad experiences without having to pay top dollar,” said Toomey-Flinn.