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
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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.
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 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 reasearch abroad.
Academic Fellowships in Russia are provided by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York and support U.S. graduate students, faculty, and independent scholars as they conduct research for three to nine consecutive months on topics within the social sciences disciplines in Russia. The total value of each fellowship ranges from $10,000 – $45,000.
Russian State Scholarship is a competitive award available for degree programs abroad in Russia.
Intensive Summer Language Institutes offer fully-funded summer language institutes for US university students.
The Alfa Fellowship Program places accomplished young American and British professionals in work assignments at leading organizations in Russia in the fields of business, economics, journalism, law, public policy and related areas.
The Higher School of Economics Scholarships offer assistance in pursuing a full degree program (BA, MA, PhD levels) at the Higher School of Economics.
US Intern Abroad Armenia Scholarships are awarded to Americans enrolled in or recently graduated from American higher education institutions.
National Security Language Initiative for Youth offers funding for high school students aged 15-18 to study abroad in Russia, Central Asia, 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.
The Russian Presidential Academy Scholarships are for students interested in earning a two-year MBA in Global Finance, International Business, Project Management, or Change Management.
American Councils Research Grants
American Councils administers the Title VIII grants from the US government which host scholars heading to a range of Eurasian countries. The funds are then applicable to programs administered by American Councils.
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.
I spent Fall and Spring with your program in St. Petersburg and it was truly the highlight and culmination of my University experience and just a banner year! I can’t thank you enough for or gush enough about your program. I recommend it to just about everyone I talk to, whether or not they’re interested in learning Russian.
I wanted to find a program that combined my love of Russia and my passion for environmental studies. Because of my interest in environmental issues, Lake Baikal had always been a site of interest to me. Studying abroad in Siberia gives you the opportunity to see a completely different side of Russia and the Russian people. Just think, few people at home even know that Siberia is anything but a wintery tundra!
The program here is wonderful. All of my teachers have been extremely helpful and I have made friends both here in the dorms and with others who live in the city and find that I often have many opportunities to practice Russian outside of the classroom. Already I feel that my Russian has improved immensely, especially my listening and speaking.
At a time in my life when I was at a crossroads regarding where my career might take me, this course showed me a path that truly inspired me, and I haven’t looked back since.
My semester back home so far has been incredibly influenced by my semester abroad with SRAS and I find myself talking about it almost daily. Since many of my classes touch on the region (Europe after Socialism, Central Asian Politics), I’m able to add comments and insights unavailable to me before. My contributions to our Russian club have also been greatly enriched. Thank you for everything you did to facilitate this experience and going out of your way to ensure our success.