Financial Planning | Kent State University

Financial Planning

As soon as you decide to study away, begin planning for how to make the experience affordable (freshman year is not too early to start!). Your financial plan should cover two types of costs:

  • “Set” costs, like flights, lodging and ground transportation. These are normally predetermined by the program/destination.
  • “Soft” costs, like travel prep (luggage, outlet adapters, comfortable walking shoes) and expenses like non-group meals and snacks, excursions, shopping and entertainment that you can moderate or control to some extent. We recommend students budget for a $500 to $1,000 cushion to cover these soft costs.

Financial Aid

The costs of studying away from Kent State will vary widely, depending on length and destination. In most cases, studying abroad (internationally) will cost more and require more planning than studying in domestic locations like Washington, D.C., or Columbus. The cost of studying abroad for short-term trips (i.e., less than a semester) generally ranges from $3,500 to $5,000 (including airfare, lodging and tuition costs). Semester-long study abroad costs are affected by many variables: For example, if you are a commuter student living at home, lodging will be a new cost. If you are living on campus, lodging may not cost more (and in some cases may cost less).

If you receive financial aid, you may be able to apply it to airfare, lodging and other program fees. Scholarships, tuition waivers and GI Bill funds may also apply to study abroad opportunities. The best first step: Contact financial aid coordinator Alana Thompson at abaudo@kent.edu or 330-672-3209 to understand whether your financial aid package will apply, or review http://www.kent.edu/financialaid.


Scholarships

There are many study abroad scholarships, including several from CCI, and the number, types and requirements of scholarships change (and grow) regularly. Spend an hour or two looking at these opportunities and apply as quickly as possible for the most promising ones (some scholarship have early deadlines).

Be aware that financial aid and scholarship disbursements will be deposited into your Bursar’s account before the start of your study-away program, but the timing of deposits will vary based on the type of aid.


Saving and Raising Money

The easiest way to save money is to start. Start early and start by examining how you spend money now. Experts say that saving even $5 a day ($35 a week) in your freshman year can build into a $5,000 nest egg by junior year. Can you drink “designer” coffee less often? Eat out less often? Walk more and spend less on gas? Small savings make a real difference.

Some students have had success with Go Fund Me sites; others have asked family and friends to sponsor them or make donations to their study away funds rather than buy birthday gifts. Some students have asked employers to help fund their travel; others have gone back to their high schools, churches, and local chambers of commerce to seek funding and scholarship. Ask family members if they have frequent flyer miles they can share with you. Be creative, consistent and persistent. It’s worth it!

Costs Before You Go
  • If you are studying abroad, budget and apply for a passport (first-time passports currently cost $135) and a student visa if required by the host country (costs vary by country from no fee to $500).
  • Prepare for program commitment fees. For short-term study abroad programs, the current fee is $60; for Florence semesters, the cost is $200. These payments confirm that you will be participating in the program and are non-refundable.
  • For CCI short-term study abroad programs, we will arrange payment plans to allow students to pay for the program over a period of time. These plans will be fully explained to you. The plans are phased to allow you to earn money between payments. But all payments must be made before a student departs for the host location.
  • If you are arranging your own flights (for example, when you are studying abroad alone in an international immersion program), look for the best student rates using sites like Student Universe or STA Travel. You can also use Kayak to find favorable rates.
  • If you are arranging your own housing (for example, if you are studying abroad alone in an international immersion program), be prepared to start early (you may not be able to get a visa until you have confirmed housing) and expect some up-front costs. Most universities post housing options on their websites, so that’s a good place to start. Be sure to ask about all costs and amenities. Some leasing companies require application fees or security deposits. Consider that you may need to purchase things like utensils, dishes, and linens. You may reduce your costs by having a roommate; most universities offer roommate referral services.
  • While all Office of Global Education (OGE) study-abroad programs include international health insurance as part of the program fee, if you are studying abroad as part of a non-OGE program, check with your existing insurance covers international health insurance.
  • Check with your bank or credit card company before you go abroad to be sure that you'll be able to use your U.S. debit or credit card in the host country. Be sure to explain if you will be traveling to more than one country while abroad. We recommend using a credit card and not your debit card while traveling out of the country.
  • Notify your bank or credit card company about your upcoming international travel so that they won't assume someone is fraudulently using your card.
  • As your travel date approaches, try hard to avoid excessive charges on your credit card and/or resolve all unpaid charges. You want to travel with the maximum credit limit available to you. If your credit card entitles you to a $2,500 card credit limit but you have $2,000 in unpaid charges, you’ll only leave yourself a $500 credit cushion for unexpected or emergency situations.
  • A few days before you leave, go to your bank to convert U.S. dollars into the local currency of your host country. We recommend converting at least $200. This will be helpful if you have taxi or gratuity costs as soon as you arrive in your host country.
  • Finally, talk to a student who has studied at the same/similar location to get a better understanding of local costs and budgeting advice. Don’t leave home without a basic budget for yourself!
Costs During Your Program
  • Review your expenditures regularly to make sure you are living within your budget. You may find you need to cut back on impulse buys.
  • Maintain an emergency fund “cushion” for unexpected or emergency costs. For example, even with international health insurance, the healthcare provider may require you to pay at the time of service and file a claim for reimbursement.
  • Don’t forget to plan for “unpleasant” fees: If you damage your place of lodging (e.g., if you dye your hair purple and stain hotel towels), you will likely be charged by the owner. And, if your luggage is over the weight limit, you’ll be charged by the airline.
Are You Ready to Study Away?

A final planning consideration depends on your personal readiness. Consider a few simple questions:

  • Would you prefer to study away with a group of Kent State students and Kent State faculty, or would you prefer to study in another country where your peers are from many nations and your faculty is not from Kent State? (Both opportunities are available to you.)
  • Are you prepared to leave familiar patterns and peers at Kent State for a little while?
  • Are you ready to make some trade-offs in order to study away? For example, are you willing to give up concert tickets or a new pair of shoes to help build your personal savings for study-abroad?
  • Are you intrepid in the fullest sense of the word? Not simply ready to see famous sights, but also to adapt to different cultures, different laws, different languages, different foods, different types of housing, different spiritual beliefs and different standards of hygiene?
  • Are you able to be responsible for yourself? Can you manage your own money? Do your own laundry (without a washer or dryer)? Take care of your own health and wellbeing? Can you follow new procedures to keep yourself safe in a new enrivonment (for example, following a buddy system rule or being careful not to leave your bags unattended)?
  • Are you able to adjust to different concepts of time? “I’ll be there in an hour” has different meanings in some countries. And not every country is a fast-food nation.
  • Are you ready to represent not only yourself, but Kent State University and your country? Are you ready to understand – without judgment – how others perceive your country and its role in the world?
  • Are you aware of your own biases and prejudices (everyone has them) and are you ready to experience what may feel new and foreign to you?
  • Are you ready to confront new situations on a daily basis? Are you able to see each situation as unique, and are you able to be flexible and be able to adapt your style accordingly?
  • Are you ready to meet new people and form new lifetime friendships?

More information on studying abroad can be found at http://www.kent.edu/globaleducation.