Semester Abroad Financial Information
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Penn Abroad is here to help you navigate the financial considerations that come into play as you prepare for a semester abroad. It is easy to become overwhelmed by some of the questions that may come to mind. How will I fund my abroad experience? How much will it cost for me to live abroad? What other Penn financial considerations do I need to keep in mind?
To ensure you have a full understanding of study abroad money matters, the following information details answers to the most common study abroad financial questions.
Tuition and Study Abroad Fee
When you study abroad for a semester or year for academic credit, you will be charged tuition and a study abroad fee by the University of Pennsylvania at a rate equivalent to the tuition and general fee on the Philadelphia campus for the corresponding time period. These charges are the same regardless of the program you choose to attend and they will be billed via your student account.
The University of Pennsylvania practices “home school tuition” billing for all Penn-approved undergraduate and approved petition programs for semester and academic year study abroad. This means that Penn students pay Penn tuition for their study abroad experience. Penn in turn pays tuition to the partner institution abroad. Penn students benefit from this practice by earning Penn credit and grades for their study abroad courses as well as having a wide range of program types to select from. Each overseas course is reviewed by academic personnel to determine creditworthiness at Penn, thereby enabling overseas courses to count for grades. Charging Penn tuition enables students continued access to Penn services such as CAPS, academic advising, library resources, and financial aid. It also ensures that programs are selected based on best personal and academic fit instead of cost, and provides access to study abroad for the entire Penn undergraduate community.
Penn’s tuition and study abroad fee charges cover only costs directly related to instruction on the program to which you are admitted and do not cover the costs of accommodation and meals, international and local transportation, books and supplies, optional excursions, personal expenses, medical insurance and passport, and visa fees. In some cases where a Penn-affiliated program sponsor charges an all-inclusive comprehensive program fee, Penn will determine with the sponsor the amount of tuition-related charges that will be covered by Penn tuition, and the remaining charges such as housing, meals, or medical insurance will be posted to your student account.
Program-sponsored internships, unless pre-approved by a student’s home school for Penn credit, are not covered by tuition and study abroad fees.
Payment for your study abroad program must be made in accordance with the University’s published schedule for payment of tuition, fees, and other charges.
Estimating the Cost of Your Semester Abroad
Students are billed Penn tuition and the study abroad fee regardless of their program. Costs for housing, dining, books, supplies, and transportation, etc. change based on the cost of living in your host city. Penn Abroad provides a budget sheet for every study abroad program, which can be found on PASSPORT under the Budget Sheets section in the “Finances” tab. The budget sheet estimates your total cost of attendance for your term abroad including tuition, the study abroad fee, lodging, meals, international travel, visa & entry requirement fees, local transportation, local insurance coverage, books, and supplies.
Your budget sheet will indicate whether an expense will appear on your Penn bill (billable expense) or if you will be responsible to pay an expense on your own or directly to your host institution (non-billable expense).
The costs factored into budget sheets are estimates based on information provided by the host program at the time of compiling the budget sheet. Aid packages are adjusted by Student Registration & Financial Services (SRFS) based on information contained in the budget sheet. Students are encouraged to work with their SRFS advisor for any questions related to funding during their term abroad.
Understanding Your Penn Bill for Your Semester Abroad
Once you are registered for your term abroad, your Penn bill will be updated to include Penn tuition and the study abroad fee. Any additional billable expenses, which vary by program and are indicated on your budget sheet, may appear on your Penn bill at the start of your term abroad or may appear on your Penn bill several months later. Be mindful to set aside funding for all expected expenses for your program, even if they are not on your Penn bill when the term begins. It is not uncommon for billable charges such as housing or meals to post to your Penn bill approximately 1-3 months after arrival to your host city.
The payment deadlines for your Penn bill during your semester abroad are the same as they are for when you are on Penn’s campus. Reference the billing schedule posted by Student Registration & Financial Services for more information.
Financial Aid & Refunds
In most cases, your financial aid package can be applied towards a Penn-approved study abroad program. The cost of attendance for your semester abroad is based on the budget Penn Abroad provides for each program. This budget may be larger or smaller than your semester budget at Penn.
If your financial aid exceeds your billed charges (and any past-due balance), you are entitled to a refund. Your refund is meant to cover expenses from your semester abroad that are not billed to your Penn account. Your refund is also meant to cover expenses that may be billed to your Penn account at a later date than the start of your Penn term.
If you receive a financial aid refund, it is your responsibility to budget accordingly to ensure that you will be able to settle any additional abroad expenses by way of the refund check that you receive, even if additional charges are posted to your Penn bill after your term abroad begins.
Refer to the SRFS Study Abroad Financial Aid Policy for more information about how financial aid refunds are processed.
The “Finances” tab of every study abroad program brochure includes detailed information about scholarship opportunities relevant to a specific program. In addition, Penn Abroad maintains a list of Outside Scholarships that you may be eligible for.
If you are awarded an outside scholarship or grant, you must promptly report this additional source of funding to Penn Abroad. Penn Abroad will notify the Outside Scholarship Office of all scholarship and grant awardees. Students who receive a scholarship check directly from the funding source should follow the Outside Scholarship reporting policies. If the funds are released to Penn Abroad, Penn Abroad will work with SRFS to apply your funds as a “financial aid – award” to your student account balance. Your aid package may be adjusted as a result of the additional source of funding. Refer to the Outside Scholarship policy to learn more about how SRFS may adjust your financial aid package.
Study Abroad as an LPS Student
If you are an LPS student, you will be charged the full-time SAS tuition rate when you study abroad. The SAS tuition rate for your Penn Abroad program is not eligible for tuition reduction.
You will not be permitted to study abroad if you have outstanding financial debts to the University from previous semesters. All financial holds must be cleared no less than 10 days prior to your abroad program start date, or your permission to study abroad will be rescinded.
Rescission of Eligibility
If study abroad approval is rescinded for any reason at any point in the study abroad process, you are responsible for all financial obligations including any unrecoverable deposits, visa, flights, housing expenses, and/or any other unrecoverable costs or advance payments made by Penn Abroad on your behalf. In cases where permission to study abroad is rescinded after the Penn semester has begun, a student also risks not being able to return to Penn.
You are required to maintain health insurance coverage that is valid in your home country for the duration of the time that you are abroad at your own expense. If your health insurance is the Penn Student Insurance Plan (PSIP), you will not be charged the clinical fee during the semester you are abroad.
By studying on a Penn-approved program, you are covered by Penn’s International SOS (ISOS) membership at no additional cost to you. Penn’s ISOS membership includes travel medical insurance and evacuation assistance for the duration of your time abroad.
In many countries, regardless of your home country’s health insurance and travel medical insurance, you must also purchase national or institutional health insurance. The budget sheet for your program will indicate if you should expect additional insurance expenses specific to your abroad program.
If you are offered admission to your abroad program, you must confirm your participation with Penn Abroad by selecting to “commit” within PASSPORT no more than two weeks after Penn Abroad’s official acceptance notification.
By committing to participate, you authorize the University to make deposits and/or advance payments related to your participation to affiliated institutions.
If you initially “commit” to your abroad program and then subsequently withdraw, you must notify Penn Abroad in writing immediately following your decision.
Should you withdraw at any time after you commit to participate in your abroad program, or if your admission to the program is rescinded, you will be responsible for any unrecoverable deposits and/or advance payments made on your behalf via your Penn student account. If you withdraw at any time after committing to participate, you remain individually responsible for any financial obligation due to an affiliated institution or program abroad, or the University of Pennsylvania.
Any adjustment of billed tuition and fees due to involuntary or voluntary withdrawal which takes place before or after your program abroad begins can only be made as approved by your home school and in accordance with the published university policy on refunds.
In the event a refund is approved by the home school, all financial obligations due to the host institution abroad must be satisfied before any refund may be processed. The withdrawal/refund policy of the affiliated program may affect your refund amount.
Program Start Date
The program begins on the date of the first scheduled activity abroad. This is determined and set by your study abroad program. Examples include but are not limited to: welcome session or orientation, advising session, or first class session. Importantly, Penn Abroad expects students attend and participate in all planned orientation activities, even if attendance at orientation is deemed optional by the host university.
Program End Date
The program ends on the last date of your last exam or scheduled activity as defined by your abroad program. Early departure from your abroad program is not permitted.
Alteration to the Planned Abroad Program
Study abroad programs can be altered, disrupted, or cancelled at any time by Penn or by the Host Institution, including after a program abroad begins or after Penn’s term commences. Any alterations to the planned program, whether temporary or permanent, may have an impact on your financial commitments and academic expectations for your term abroad.
Students assume financial responsibility for all non-recoverable costs if their abroad program is altered, disrupted, or cancelled. Non-recoverable costs may include but are not limited to:
Flight costs, including flight change fees
Lodging costs, including any deposits or fees to change lodging accommodations
Program application fees
Students are encouraged to consider purchasing flight or travel insurance for non-recoverable costs associated with their abroad program. The purchase of flight or travel insurance is at the student’s discretion and at the student’s expense.
If a study abroad program is cancelled or if a student withdraws from their abroad program prior to Penn’s term commencing, and the student wishes to enroll at Penn for the term, they must be enrolled at Penn before the course selection period ends. Students should work with their academic advisor to swiftly prepare for a return to Penn.
If a study abroad program is cancelled or if a student withdraws from their abroad program after the course selection period ends, they will be required to take a Leave of Absence for the semester. All University of Pennsylvania policies regarding a Leave of Absence, including financial implications, will be applicable.
If an abroad program begins and is subsequently disrupted, the host institution will determine the most appropriate method to complete the academic component of the semester based on the circumstances of the disruption. The program may continue in person or in a virtual format, with students either remaining in the abroad location or departing. Students are expected to complete the term as outlined by the host institution. Individual academic departments at Penn will remain solely responsible for determining exactly which courses taken abroad will receive credit in particular disciplines. All courses approved for credit at Penn and which students complete within the parameters set forth by the host institution will remain eligible for Penn credit.
Should a student choose to withdraw from the abroad program due to a disruption, they remain bound by the conditions set forth above in this “Academic Risks” section, including financial implications.