Semester Abroad

Financial Information

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.

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. Students are billed Penn tuition and the study abroad fee regardless of their program, but costs for housing, dining, books, and supplies, transportation, etc. will change based on the cost of living in your host city. Please refer to your program budget, which will detail the charges that are paid through your Penn student account and those for which you are solely responsible.

Estimating the Cost of Your Semester Abroad
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 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).

Scholarship Opportunities
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 they may adjust your financial aid package. 

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 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.

Financial Aid Refunds
If your financial aid exceeds your charges (and any past-due balance), you are entitled to a refund to cover expenses from your semester abroad that are not billed to your Penn account or that are billed to your Penn account at a later date than the start of your Penn term. Therefore, please be mindful to set aside funding for those later expenses as they tend to post to your Penn Bill approximately 1-3 months after arrival to your host city. 

Some expenses such as housing or meals may be due to your host institution or may appear on your Penn bill 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 after your term abroad begins.  

Refer to the SRFS Study Abroad Financial Aid Policy for more information about how financial aid refunds are processed. 

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 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 will have additional insurance expenses specific to your abroad program.

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.

Financial Holds
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. Any financial losses (visa cost, flight unrecoverable deposits and/or advance payments made on your behalf via your Penn student account, etc) will not be covered by Penn Abroad due to the rescinding of approval to study abroad. 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.  

Program Commitment
If you are offered admission to your abroad program, you must confirm your participation with Penn Abroad by selecting to “commit” within PASSPORT within two weeks’ time.

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.

Fee Adjustment
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.

In the case of a personal decision to withdraw: 

  • After your program start date but before Penn’s start date, you will not be charged the study abroad fee. If you return to Penn, you will be charged the general fee, in addition to tuition and any other associated semester fees for your term at Penn.  

  • After your program start date and after Penn’s start date, you forfeit the full amount of the study abroad fee. 

Program Start Date
The program begins on the date of the first scheduled activity abroad for which attendance is required. The first scheduled activity abroad for which attendance is required 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.