Funding Your Experience

Depending on the program you choose, multiple funding options are available to help you cover study abroad program costs. Start by carefully evaluating the direct and indirect costs associated with your program. Then see if some or all of your existing financial aid package can be applied toward those costs. Make sure to research additional study abroad scholarship opportunities and understand how to submit payments for your program, if needed.

If you have questions about financing your study abroad program, the Financial Aid Office and Office of Advising, Career, and Global Learning are ready to help you.

Program Costs | Using Existing Financial Aid | Costs Not Covered by Financial Aid | External Scholarships | Paying for Your Program

Study Abroad Program Costs

The total cost of participating in any particular study abroad program is impacted by a number of factors. These may include:

  • Location: The cost of living where your program is located can vary significantly compared to the cost of living in Oakland or where you currently reside. A higher or lower cost of living may have an impact on the overall cost of attendance.
  • Program length: Study abroad programs that are shorter in length may carry a smaller price tag.
  • Provider: Study abroad providers set the price for their own programs, and some may charge more than others.

While program costs vary, rather than looking at costs alone, you should always consider them alongside the eligible funding you may use towards those costs.

Direct vs. Indirect Costs

Direct costs are the costs charged by a study abroad program (often called the “program fee”). This includes tuition, and often will include other student fees, room and board, medical insurance, and program excursions/activities. Check your program’s website to view what is included in their direct costs.

Indirect costs are all other costs associated with studying abroad. This may include airfare and ground transportation, passport and visa fees, textbooks, an international phone plan, and assorted personal expenses. Many programs will offer an estimate of indirect costs on their website (often listed as "additional expenses").

Planning for Study Abroad Costs

Consult the cost breakdown for the programs that interest you to see what's included in their direct program costs, then look at what each program estimates for additional, indirect expenses. Finally, consider your own spending habits and expectations for your time away (i.e. do you plan to do additional excursions, traveling, or shopping?). Visit our Planning Tips page for more information.

Using Your Existing Financial Aid

Financial Aid for Fall, Spring, & Full Academic Year Programs

Financial aid and scholarships can help you offset some of the costs that come with studying abroad. If you're participating in a Mills-affiliated study abroad program during the fall or spring semesters or for the full academic year, any federal and/or state financial aid that you receive through Mills can be transferred to pay for direct costs.

As part of the Mills study abroad application process for fall and spring programs, you're required to consult with Mills Financial Aid Office to determine how much of your program’s tuition, fees, and other direct costs can be covered by your existing Mills financial aid package. If you receive federal or state aid, you should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Cal Grant GPA Verification Form as early as possible by following the instructions for continuing Mills students

Students whose parents are eligible for federal Direct PLUS Loans for parents have the option to use that aid to cover both direct and indirect program costs and may be able to apply to increase the amount of this loan, if needed. Consult with the Financial Aid Office for more information.

In accordance with federal and state regulations, Mills merit- and need-based scholarships cannot be applied to defray costs associated with your study abroad program, though external scholarships for study abroad are available.

Financial Aid for Direct Exchange, Summer, and January Term Programs

Costs Not Covered by Financial Aid

As a study abroad student, you are responsible for:

  • Any deposit that your program requires to reserve your spot
  • Any remaining tuition, housing, or other program costs that exceed the amount of your available financial aid, including scholarships and/or grants
  • Any indirect program costs, including airfare, textbooks, and miscellaneous personal expenses

Should you extend your study abroad term beyond one academic year, you will be required to take a leave of absence from Mills College, at which point you will be ineligible for financial aid assistance through Mills. 

If you elect to study abroad through a program that's not one of the College’s affiliated study abroad partners, you will not be eligible to apply any of your Mills financial aid package toward the costs of your independent study abroad program. Learn more about the process of applying to an independent program

External Scholarships 

While Mills merit- and need-based scholarships may not be applied to cover costs associated with your study abroad program (with the exception of direct exchange programs), external scholarships are available. Visit our Study Abroad Scholarship Resources page for detailed information.

Paying for Your Study Abroad Program

If you're using federal, state, and/or institutional aid toward the cost of your program, the program will bill Mills for your direct costs. At that point, any available financial aid that can be applied toward the billed amount (as determined by the Financial Aid Office), will be forwarded to the study abroad program and processed through the Student Accounts Office.

In accordance with the Mills Payment Policy, students will be billed for their study abroad by Mills Student Accounts upon receipt of an invoice directly from the program. Payment is due no earlier than the Mills semester due date and 30 days from when the student receives a bill from Mills Student Accounts. Should there be any delay on the part of the program in sending the bill to Mills Student Accounts, the student will always have at least 30 days to make their payment.

If you know that you will be using federal, state, and/or institutional aid from Mills towards the cost of your study abroad program, and you or your parents receive a bill from the program, do not pay it; forward it to the Student Accounts Office.

For any questions regarding billing and payment for your study abroad program, contact Student Accounts via email at or by phone at 510.430.2000.