Understanding Program Costs

Every year, there are many students who inquire about studying abroad; however, the number of students who actually participate on a study abroad experience is only a fraction of those who express interest. Much of the success rate depends on how well students have planned for their program academically AND financially.

To assist you in putting a good financial plan in place for your study abroad program, consider the following: 

1. Understand your program fees and payment policies

Regardless of your program selection, you will need to understand what fees are included in your program costs and when payments are due. Most payments for programs are due PRIOR to your program start date, so financial preparations will need to be made well in advance.  Questions to consider: 

  • What is all included in my program costs? Is it all inclusive?
  • When are payments due for my program?
  • If installment payments are an option, what is the amount due for each payment, and how many installments will you have to make?
  • Whom do I have to make or submit payments to? 
  • What are the refund, withdrawal, or cancellation policies associated with my program? 

2. Understanding how your program fees are structured

Study abroad programs usually have three major cost categories: 

  • Programs fee (billable expenses) - the amount charged and collected from the student (by TAMU-CC Office of International Education or their program provider). Amenities and/or services covered through the program fees will vary based on program selection. 
  • Tuition fees - All credit bearing programs will assess tuition and fees to students. Depending on the program selection, tuition fees may be considered a separate "out-of-pocket" expense, or can be grouped together with the program fees.  TAMU-CC faculty-led and exchange program participants will be assessed TAMU-CC tuition as a separate "out-of-pocket" expense. 
  • Out-of-pocket fees or expenses (non-billable) - Out-of-pocket expenses will vary based on program selection. Out-of-pocket fees or expenses can be incurred before the program start date, or incurred while students are on the program. Examples of out-of-pocket fees or expenses include, but are not limited to, passport/visa fees, textbook/course materials, airfare, personal spending or excursions, meals, in-country transportation, etc.

Once you have a better understanding of what your program costs will be, as well as when and how to pay for them, you will need to start assessing your current financial resources to ensure that you will be able to find the funding for your program by the payment due dates.  

Tips: Students will find it helpful to understand their current finances and apply some of those principles to financial planning for their study abroad program as well. For example, what are your current costs for tuition, housing, meals, transportation, personal expenses for studying at TAMU-CC? How are you paying for those current expenses? Do you have a current financial plan in place to help you with your current expenses? Did you have a back-up plan in place in case funding options did not go through? How can you apply some of these steps or measures to your study abroad planning? 

A word of caution as well, when it comes to comparing the costs of each program, do not focus solely on the billable program fees and instead focus on what the overall costs will be for your program. Some programs may seem inexpensive at first, because the billable program fees seems less than others; however, if the program fees do not include tuition or airfare, your tuition and/or our-of-pocket expenses will seem higher when compared to other programs.  Hence, be mindful of all of your expected program costs. You can utilize our Budget Sheet to help you calculate the total costs of each program to inform your program decision.

3. Finding financial support for your program

Understanding what your current financial situation is and preparing, or predicting, for your future expenses are things that all students should be actively doing. When it comes to finding financial support for your program, the resources options will vary from student to student. Here are some questions you should ask  yourself as you continue planning for your study abroad experience:

  • How are you currently paying for your studies at TAMU-CC? And, will these financial resources be available for your study abroad program?
  • Does the program overall cost fit within your current budget?
  • What current funding options are you currently using? Financial Aid? Veteran's Benefits? Scholarships? Self-funded? Parents/family?
  • What funding options have you not looked into? Alternative options through Financial Aid? Study abroad-related scholarships? Grants/stipends through your academic department? Research grants? Online/Crowdfunding? 

There are a variety of ways to fund your study abroad program. For more information about Financial Aid, Veterans Benefits, or Study Abroad Scholarships, see the general information listed on our website, or feel free to reach out to the appropriate offices on campus.