Any study abroad journey should begin with a close look at your educational, professional, and personal goals. These factors and others influence the location, duration, and focus of your experience abroad – and ultimately, your budget. Armed with a budget, you can explore the various options for securing the necessary funding.
Funding is a natural and important concern. It is important to note, however, that the costs of a study program and/or the cost-of-living abroad can often be comparable, even lower than in the US.
We have done our best to compile and update regularly a list of funding sources that apply to our region. We urge you to also explore the opportunities and resources offered by your university’s study abroad office and your department of study. Be sure to also meet with a financial aid advisor to learn how to direct your aid toward study abroad.
Study abroad budgets can generally be broken down into three parts. The first is the program cost. With most SRAS programs, this covers the cost of instruction, housing, and medical insurance and currently ranges from about $9,000-12,000 dollars per semester. See the pages for individual SRAS programs for more information.
The second part is cost of living. This can vary widely based on location and student lifestyle, but SRAS students report spending an average of $45-110 per week for food, transport, communication, entertainment, and incidentals. See our budget guides for each location for more information.
The third is airfare. This will vary widely based on time of year and departure and arrival city. Tickets from New York to most SRAS locations can be purchased for about $500-1500. See our guide to international airfare for more information.
Introduction to Funding Sources
Funding sources for study abroad are numerous and diverse. Here’s three pieces of advice when considering them:
- Always Apply. Many students mistakenly believe that grants for study abroad must be impossibly competitive. Never assume that a grant or scholarship is somehow too prestigious to apply for. Too many people thinking like that is the reason that those who administer grants often point to a lack of applicants.
- Look into Federal Aid. If your university pre-approves your program for credit and agrees to manage payment, you can use federal aid to help pay for your program. Check with SRAS and your university for details.
- Never underestimate your social network. It is increasingly commonplace for students to use fundraising sites to help fund their study abroad. A recent SRAS student, for example, raised $740 in small donations.
The following is a list of every scholarship, aid source, and grant program that we know of that can help US citizens fund study abroad to Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and other selected Eurasian states.
A. Funding from SRAS
Stackable grants; matching grants; alumni grants; military grants; and more!
Build your resume while funding your online or study abroad goals!
B. Outside Funding Directly Applicable to SRAS Programs
The following opportunities are generally applicable to SRAS programs. Note that some (but not all) may require you to be enrolled in a program supported by an American university. Contact SRAS for details.
Candid is an site that helps match organizations and individuals to grant opportunities. See their search map of locations here.
Boren Scholarships and Fellowships provide funding for US students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests. The Boren committee prefers applications for 6-12 months of study, so a summer plus one or two semesters will be optimal. Note as well that applications should focus on how your study abroad will assist you in your professional career (leave discussion of your personal life out or to a minimum). Make sure that your letters of recommendation come from nearly all academic sources (one may be from a supervisor).
Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships (FLAS) provides academic year and summer fellowships to institutions of higher education to assist meritorious undergraduate and graduate students of foreign languages and related area or international studies. Check with your financial aid office to see if your institution is participating.
Fulbright awards several types of grants to applicants who hold a BA, MA, or the equivalent of those degrees (but not a Ph.D.).
Critical Language Enhancement Awards are add-ons to Fulbright grants to assist recepients in learning critical languages in certain countries.
IREX is an international nonprofit organization that provides funding for certain projects in Eurasia.
Gilman International Scholarship Program offers grants for US citizen undergraduates who are receiving federal Pell Grant funding at 2-year or 4-year colleges or universities.
Cohen Tucker Dissertation Fellowship provides up to $22,000 for doctoral students at US universities who are American citizens or permanent residents to conduct their dissertation research in Russia on topics within the scope of 19th – early 21st century Russian historical studies.
Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation supports the development of future leaders at a variety of career stages in several critical fields.
ProjectGO provides funds for study abroad in critical languages for contracted or non-contracted Army ROTC, Air Force ROTC, Naval ROTC students on track to commission through ROTC from any university or college in the United States.
GI Bill can be used for study abroad if approved. To verify program eligibility and next steps to access your benefits, please consult your campus Veteran Services and/or Study Abroad office.
Gilman-McCain Scholarship provides awards of $5,000 for child dependents of active duty service members to study or intern abroad on credit-bearing programs.
Whitaker International Fellows and Scholars Program sends emerging leaders in US biomedical engineering or bioengineering overseas to undertake a self-designed project that will enhance their careers within the field.
Malevich Society Grants encourage research, writing, and other activities relating to the history and memory of Russian artist Kazimir Malevich.
Nabokov Society Grants encourage research, writing, and other activities relating to the history and works of Russian-American writer Vladimir Nabokov.
Annuity.org gives away $2000 to financially literate students enrolled in US institutions.
The Social Science Research Council supports several awards in their field.
The Foundation for Global Scholars makes several awards between $500 and $2500 annually.
Fund for International Education awards up to $10,000.
The Fund for Education Abroad (FEA) gives scholarships to individuals from groups underrepresented in study abroad and those destined for non-traditional locations.
Dell Scholars program was designed to provide a scholarship plus non-monetary supports for the challenges many students face while pursuing a degree.
The Diverse International Women Of Color Study Abroad Scholarship offers $500 scholarships to women of color who have been accepted to an in-person study abroad program.
First Trip Scholarships are awarded to travelers exiting the US for the first time and heading to a non-traditional destination. Awards are up to $1,500, determined by applicant need, destination, and availability of funds.
Tortuga Backpacks Study Abroad Scholarship awards $1000 for American students enrolled full-time as an undergraduate student in good academic standing at a four-year, degree-granting college or university in the US.
The Global Studies Grants provides grants of $1000 for American students who will study abroad with a program supported by a US college or university.
Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad grant is $1000. Any student of a university with a Phi Kappa Phi chapter is eligible (you needn’t be a member of the fraternity to apply).
International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) is run by the National Science Foundation and offers funds for international research and study to students in science and engineering fields.
The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship offer several $30,000 awards to recent college grads – nominated through a Watson partner college – to spend a year perusing independent, purposeful travel in international settings new to them.
The Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowships are available to Junior-year undergraduates and those applying to Master’s programs.
Rotary District Grants can be used to sponsor university students studying any subject, either locally or abroad.
TEACH Grants provides up to $16,000 in upfront tuition assistance to students who commit to becoming foreign language teachers.
Federal Student Aid (FSA) including Pell Grants, Perkins Loans, PLUS Loans, the GI Bill, and Stafford Loans can be used to study abroad if through a program approved by your university.
International Education Financial Aid
The IEFA is a database of financial aid sources for study abroad, including loans from private companies.
The Lead with Languages Teacher Scholarship Program provides recipients with an award of $1,500 per academic year, renewable to up to $6,000 per recipient. This can be used for study abroad if the applicant plans to become a language teacher of a critical language and is participating in a program approved by and supported by their home US institution.
The following are three major crowdfunding sites that our students have used before to fund their study abroad. For more advice on how to use crowd funding to fund study abroad and travel, see this article.
D. Aid Inapplicable to SRAS Programs
These scholarships can be applied to specific programs offered by organizations other than SRAS. There are many other programs designed to study and explore in this part of the world. We encourage you to consider all of your options.
NCEEER offers a few awards for PhD holders. Title VIII Grants give up to $40,000 for humanities and social sciences research projects in or on any country of Eurasia or East-Central Europe. The primary scholar for the project must be a US citizen and hold a PhD degree. Short term travel awards are also available for those looking to research abroad.
Intensive Summer Language Institutes offer fully-funded summer language institutes for US university students.
National Security Language Initiative for Youth offers funding for high school students aged 15-18 to study abroad in Estonia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, and other locations.
OSCE Master of Arts in Politics and Security Program offer limited places for Americans for full tuition, housing allowance, monthly stipend, and paid insurance.
KIMEP in Kazakhstan offers a range of assistance for their programs.
GI Bill can be used for to obtain a degree at approved institutions abroad. Preparatory language studies, if needed for entry into degree studies, are not eligible for coverage with the GI Bill. (Info on use of GI Bill for regular study abroad below in Section III).
Melik-Bakhshyan Scholarships award up to three scholarships for eligible applicants to learn Armenian in Yerevan.
Full Scholarships for Persian language courses from ARMACAD award up to three scholarships to eligible students to learn Persian in Armenia.
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Short Term International Grants for Armenian Studies are given by the Armenian Communities Department of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation to qualified students, academics and researchers in Armenian Studies to participate in activities related to their field of studies, encouraging academic interaction and exchange of knowledge and ideas. The maximum grant amount will be based on proposals received, but shall not exceed 5,000 USD.
E. NOTES ON OTHER SOURCES
There are many other private loan companies, scholarship, and financial aid search engines, and books on the topic that can help you with funding your study abroad experience. However, make sure you check for publication/last update dates before you start spending hours on the information you find, or before you pay for a book or a membership fee. The field is rapidly changing as the US Congress is currently cutting funds for education and particularly international education to Eurasia. There are also scams out there, companies that will offer you loans, but with hidden charges and even several “scholarship scams,” companies and people that charge the application fees for scholarships, but don’t actually give scholarships. Talk about your options with your advisor, never sign up for or pay for something that looks less than professional.
I’ve studied in Irkutsk and St. Petersburg with SRAS, but [Bishkek] is, by far, my favorite because of the intense focus on speaking skills. I spend about three hours, 4 times a week speaking one-on-one. It’s such a unique opportunity! The people are also especially friendly here. My homestay is fantastic, the coordinator is a never-ending wealth of help, and the food of Central Asia is delicious.