Financial Planning, Financial Aid, and Wisconsin Study Abroad Grant
Financial Planning to Study Abroad
Studying abroad is a rewarding experience, but it is important to be financially prepared. Keep these tips in mind:
- Start early. Begin planning six months to a year in advance.
- Consult the International Education Office- Study Abroad at Greenquist 210. There are many helpful materials in the Study Abroad Library. Become acquainted with various programs; then complete the Study Abroad application. If applicable, inquire about eligibility for the Wisconsin Study Abroad Grant.
- Remember that scholarships and/or financial aid will not cover 100 percent of your cost . Financing your study abroad may require a combination of financial aid, grants, scholarships, and savings. Although the cost of studying abroad can vary greatly, some programs may not cost much more than studying at UW-Parkside for the same period. Still, there may be additional costs, such as visa, passport, departure taxes, laundry, etc. The International Education Office can assist you in applying for the Wisconsin Study Abroad Grant, but plan on raising the additional money you will need through summer employment, gifts, loans, etc.
Costs at UW-Parkside
For Parkside exchange programs, you pay the same tuition you would normally pay for housing, meals, books, personal expenses and travel overseas. Generally, UW-Parkside programs have a set, all-inclusive price listed in the brochures/flyers.
Actual costs of studying abroad may range from $2,500 for some Summer/Spring Break/Winterim programs up to $8,000-$10,000 for some semester programs. These prices usually include tuition, accommodations, most meals, and some excursions. At UW-Parkside, The International Education Office may award a Wisconsin Study Abroad Grant for up to $2,000 based on Financial Aid eligibility.
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Some students may not consider studying abroad because they believe that they cannot afford the experience. The good news is that more and more students are using campus financial aid programs plus other scholarships to help pay for study abroad. In addition, many study abroad programs may fit your budget.
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What Is Financial Aid?
Financial aid can be defined broadly as any help that does not originate with the student or the student's family. Financial aid comes from federal and state governments; institutions of higher education; foundations; ethnic groups, clubs, religious groups, and associations; and private and public corporations.
Federal and state government aid is:
- funded by taxpayer dollars, or sometimes by revenue-raising devices like lotteries
- most often need-based (i.e., the student must demonstrate financial need to qualify), but can also be merit-based (the student must show some special quality such as superior academic ability or exceptional skill in art or athletics)
- might be targeted to special groups (underrepresented or other non-traditional students, or students entering certain professions such as teaching)
- in the form of grants, scholarships, loans, and/or work-study
Federal financial aid is governed by Chapter IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which is reviewed and reauthorized every five years by Congress. In the 1992 reauthorization, language was inserted stating that it is legal to use federal aid for study abroad if the credit earned by the student is approved by the home institution.
Institutional aid is:
- any aid funded by the student's educational institution
- based either on need or merit or both
- most often awarded as a scholarship or as reduced tuition
- sometimes targeted at special groups (ethnic minorities, students from other areas of the country, certain majors, first-time college students, etc.)
- awarded only to students enrolled at the institution, which often creates a barrier for study abroad students
- sometimes restricted for use only on the home campus or in the home state
Because of the latter two requirements, students who are heavily subsidized by institutional scholarships often cannot afford to study abroad, even if the program costs are less than a year at the home campus. This unfortunate fact sometimes clashes with an institution's stated goal of providing international experiences to all students. On more enlightened campuses, all financial aid is usable for education abroad as an entitlement of enrollment in good standing.
Private aid is
- neither governmental nor institutional in source
- usually available as scholarships or loans
- most often awarded directly to the student, who then uses it to attend the institution of his or her choice
- sometimes required to be used in specific colleges or geographic regions, making it difficult to use while overseas
Private aid has the most diverse eligibility requirements and sources of funding.
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Types of Aid
There are several types of aid: grants and scholarships; loans; and work/study or subsidized work. Grants and scholarships are most desirable because they do not have to be repaid. Grants are need-based; scholarships are generally merit-based and are often awarded to people who demonstrate a special ability or belong to a specific group. Most students receiving grants must meet some minimum standard of academic progress (for example, enrolling at least half-time during the term the grant is used, maintaining a minimum grade point average). Scholarship awardees must sometimes undertake specific activities (for example, competing in a sport or making presentations or appearances for the scholarship sponsor).
Loans generally have low or fixed interest rates with long repayment periods. Often repayment does not commence until after graduation. Interest on some loans is paid by the government while the student is in school. The student may not need an established credit rating: many government student loan programs do not require a credit check or a cosigner. Many loan funds are self-renewing, meaning that the money repaid by former students is lent to new students. Loans are also routinely made available to students' parents or guardians, though at less favorable terms and with a required credit check.
Loans have become a major part of the standard financial aid package. This trend worries financial aid administrators because of concern that students are borrowing too heavily and will graduate with insupportable debts. Education abroad advisers must consider whether borrowing heavily to study abroad is in the student's best interest. At the very least, advisers must help students understand the implications of borrowing large sums of money.
Work-study programs, subsidized work, operate on the premise that subsidizing student salaries allows an employer to hire more students. Most work-study programs are government-funded and require a student to show financial need.
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What Financial Aid Can Be Used for Study Abroad?
The ideal answer is everything the student would normally receive, plus any special study abroad scholarships that can be found. Using all types of federal financial aid for study abroad is perfectly legal as long as the student is eligible and your institution has approved the courses taken abroad for credit (more about that later). Many states pattern their financial aid rules and regulations on federal statutes and regulations, so that aid can also be used for study abroad.
Institutional and private aid may or may not be available for study abroad, depending on the restrictions placed on the award. This is a problem for students attending private schools, where large scholarships are awarded from endowment funds. All institutional and private aid should be made equally available for overseas study as long as students are participating in legitimate approved programs and receiving credit toward their degrees. Denying this support to needy students sacrifices the principle of equal access to all academic opportunities.
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- Students must be enrolled in a degree program to receive federal and most state aid.
- Students must be enrolled for a certain number of credit hours during the semesters they receive aid.
- Study abroad credit has to be approved for credit by the home institution before the student leaves. This must be defined on each campus, and an appropriate process devised.
- The 1992 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act allows the "reasonable costs of study abroad" to be used to determine how much aid a student should receive. Students attending low-cost institutions can qualify for more aid if the cost of study abroad is higher.
- Study abroad budgets must be devised, and the cost of each study abroad program must be documented.
- Data the student submits on aid applications or other forms must be verified, sometimes with source documents like tax records and sometimes by verification from the study abroad office. This may occur after the student has left for the study abroad site.
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Having Aid Disbursed
- Students must sign award notices, loan promissory notes, and other official forms.
- Federal and most state aid cannot be disbursed more than ten days before the beginning of the term.
- Federal and state grants and some kinds of loans (Direct Loans, Perkins Loans, etc.) are applied to the student's account at the home institution.
- Some other loans (Federal Family Loans) and private scholarships are disbursed in check form. It is possible to designate a power of attorney to pick up checks and to sign them, including federal loan checks.
- Refunds must be disbursed after home campus fees are paid. Some institutions electronically deposit refunds in students' accounts.
- There are federal rules governing whether aid must be repaid if students withdraw in a certain period of time.
- Students have to reapply for federal/state aid each year.
- Satisfactory academic credit must be shown each term, normally by earning passing grades for a full-time load of credit.
- Award notices and other documents must be sent to students for their signatures or must go to a person with valid power-of-attorney.
- It may be necessary to allow forms and other documents to arrive after normal deadlines to allow for international mail delays.
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Using Financial Aid for Study Abroad at UW-Parkside
Students may be able to use all (or most) of their financial aid to study abroad. In addition to the Wisconsin Study Abroad Grant administered by the International Education Office, students may also apply for other grants and/or scholarships. Students must be resourceful in the pursuit of funding for study abroad. Local organizations, such as community groups or émigré associations, may have small awards for overseas study, and large corporations sometimes have scholarship programs open to children of employees. Those scholarships listed here have been earmarked for studying abroad.
To apply for a Wisconsin Study Abroad Grant begin by:
- Meet with the Study Abroad Adviser at the International Education Office-Study Abroad, Greenquist 210.
- Explore and select a study abroad program that fits your goals and needs.
- Complete a Study Abroad Application.
- Complete the Wisconsin Study Abroad Grant requirements.
- Consider Study Abroad Grant deadlines.
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Eligibility for a Wisconsin Study Abroad Grant
- Study Abroad Grants are funded by the state of Wisconsin for undergraduates who are residents of Wisconsin. The International Education Office awards these grants on a competitive basis.
- Students are encouraged to do their study abroad in their sophomore or junior years. Seniors may not apply for semester-long study abroad in their final semester at UW-Parkside. However, seniors in specific short-term study programs may be eligible.
- To be eligible for a Wisconsin Study Abroad Grant, a student must first apply for Financial Aid then apply to an established study tour/study abroad program with an accredited college or university that includes a stay or at least two weeks. Students enrolled in a Master’s program or enrolled for a 2nd program of study are not eligible for the Wisconsin Study Abroad Grant. However, students may be eligible for loans and other scholarships.
- A study tour/study abroad program must earn at least three credits.
- For a study abroad program to be considered, academic requirements will be reviewed to ensure credits will be earned and can be applied toward the student's major, minor or general coursework
- Students must have a current GPA of 2.5 or higher to be eligible for a Wisconsin Study Abroad Grant (requirements may differ for other programs).
- To apply for a Wisconsin Study Abroad grant, the prospective study abroad participant must
- complete Study Abroad Initial Inquiry Form.
- complete a Study Abroad Application.
- write an essay (statement of purpose) with information concerning the student’s goals and objectives while studying abroad.
- provide 2 recommendations, including at least one from a UW-Parkside faculty or academic staff member.
- provide a DARS report or an official transcript.
- Upon receiving/accepting the Wisconsin Study Abroad Grant, students will be asked to sign an Affidavit of Understanding. The document requires students to
- contact UW-Parkside upon arrival to the destination.
- maintain contact with the International Education Office throughout the study abroad experience (semester/year programs).
- check in with International Education Office upon return to the U.S.
- complete an evaluation upon return.
- assist the International Education Office-Study Abroad in the promotion of future study abroad programs, i.e. Study Abroad Fairs and class presentations.
- return funds to UW-Parkside should the student cancel the study abroad program for personal reasons.
- Grants may be awarded for all the following study abroad programs:
- UW-Parkside programs
- UW-System Programs
- Other Study Abroad Providers reviewed/approved by the International Education Office-Study Abroad
- The International Education Office will award Travel Grants to programs offered for credit only.
- Independent study credit does not qualify for travel grant consideration.
- Priority will be given to those who have not previously received funding.
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Deadlines Dates for Wisconsin Study Abroad Grants
For fall programs, the Wisconsin Study Abroad grant determination must be made by March 1st.
For spring programs, the deadline is October 14th.
For summer programs, the deadline is March 1st.
* Look carefully for application/scholarship deadlines since each program will differ. It is the student’s responsibility to meet those deadlines.
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