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Study Abroad Finances

View the Guide to Billing and Financial Aid:

Semester & Year-Long Programs
Summer Programs

Below you can find frequently asked questions (FAQs) with general information about how study abroad finances work, as well as information about study abroad program costs. You can also click on the links directly below to learn more detail about the following additional topics on other web pages:

Frequently Asked Questions about Study Abroad Finances
How do study abroad costs work? Do I pay my regular CU-Boulder tuition?

You do not pay Boulder Campus tuition and fees when you are on a CU Study Abroad program. Instead, you pay the actual cost of your study abroad program, which can vary greatly from program to program (from cheaper than in-state to more expensive than out-of-state). To quickly find the bottom line cost for any CU Study Abroad program, visit the Program Costs page. The bottom line (Total Program Cost) includes the cost of tuition & fees, room & board, health insurance, books & supplies, airfare and personal living expenses.

Students generally use a combination of savings, help from parents/family, private or institutional scholarships, study abroad scholarships and Federal or State Financial Aid (in the form of grants, unsubsidized/subsidized loans, and/or Parent Plus loans) to pay for study abroad.

When will I pay for study abroad?

Since students will still be billed for their study abroad program fee through the CU Bursar's Office, payments are due at the same time as regular CU-Boulder tuition. Tuition for fall, the first semester of an academic year program and the second semester of a calendar year program will be due on September 5. Tuition for spring, the second semester of an academic year program and the first semester of a calendar year program will be due on February 5. Tuition for summer programs will be due on June 5 regardless of when the program actually begins. For additional information, please read through the Guide on Billing and Financial Aid.

Please note that some costs such as program deposits, plane tickets, visa fees, immunizations, and possibly housing costs will need to be paid sooner than these dates. For more information about possible additional costs, please see the FAQ below called "What am I paying for when I study abroad?"

How much does it cost to study abroad?

To view detailed costs of each specific program, please visit the Program Costs page.

As explained in the first question above, you do not pay your regular CU tuition during the term in which you study abroad. Instead, you pay the actual cost of your study abroad program, which can vary greatly from program to program. Some programs cost less than what Colorado residents would normally pay to study and live in Boulder. Some programs cost more than what non-residents would normally pay to study and live in Boulder. Most program costs fall somewhere in between these two extremes. On average, a semester abroad costs more than a semester at CU for resident students and less than a semester at CU for non-resident students.

What am I paying for when I study abroad?

When you study abroad, you will mostly pay for the same types of costs that you encounter during a term at CU (instructional costs, "tuition" for your program), housing costs, food costs, health insurance, transportation, etc.). However, there are a few additional costs that you may have when studying abroad. The following are examples of some of these costs. Most of these costs are included in the estimated costs in each program budget on the Program Costs page:

  • Airfare to and from your host country
  • Passport application fee
  • Visa application fee (not required for every country)
  • CU-Boulder Study Abroad Administrative fee (click here for more information about this fee)
  • Immunizations (only needed for certain locations)
  • Personal spending money for extra travel - varies greatly from student to student (not included in Program cost budgets)
Why do program costs vary so much?

Program costs vary greatly from program to program, largely because of two factors: location and program infrastructure. Programs located in countries with a comparably low cost of living are generally more affordable. Programs located in countries with a high cost of living (such as Australia, New Zealand, or countries in Western/Central Europe) are generally more expensive. These costs are also affected by exchange rates.

Programs with more infrastructure and numerous built-in services contribute to a higher program cost. A program like Semester at Sea, for example, has high infrastructure costs due to the cost of the ship, the services on board and the large, necessary staff. However, programs with a low infrastructure costs still offer good support for students and sometimes offer opportunities such as field trips and volunteer opportunities. There is not a direct correlation between program cost and level of quality.

How much does study abroad cost in comparison to costs at CU?

The short answer is that study abroad program costs vary widely: some programs will be less expensive than what you pay at CU (click here to view estimates of comprehensive costs to study/live at CU), some may be about the same cost, and some may be more expensive. This can be true for both resident students and non-resident students.

Below are some sample program costs, with comparisons to the total estimated costs to attend CU. These are not the only program cost options: CU-Boulder offers over 300 programs, and you can find programs that offer lower (and higher) costs in the same region compared to those listed below. Note that all costs listed below are estimates of the TOTAL estimated costs that you pay per semester, including costs such as tuition, housing, food, books, spending money, health insurance, etc.

  1 semester at CU (resident)* 1 semester at CU (non-resident)* Exchange program in Akita, Japan ISA program in Granada, Spain Semester at Sea program
Total estimated costs per semester (last update Fall 2011) $12,324 $23,302 $14,583 $16,172 $33,610

Total estimated costs per semester (last update Fall 2011)
*CU semester costs are based on the estimates provided by the Office of Financial Aid.

How does the College Opportunity Fund (COF) work with study abroad?

CU-Boulder study abroad programs are not COF eligible, nor will the credit earned be deducted from the 145 lifetime credit hour limit.

  • COF funding cannot be used to pay study abroad costs because the COF is used to offset Boulder campus tuition. Students on CU-Boulder study abroad programs do not pay tuition to Boulder while studying abroad.
  • Because you cannot use COF funding for CU-Boulder study abroad programs, the credit hours earned while abroad will be exempt from the 145-hour lifetime credit limit.
  • Even though credit earned on CU-Boulder study abroad programs doesn't count toward the COF limit, it is posted on the CU transcript and may be used to satisfy core, major, or elective requirements.

Questions? Please read more about COF at the CU College Opportunity Fund (COF) Project website.