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Alternative Funding Options

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Although Yale has many resources for funding students to study, work, and research abroad and domestically, Yale funds cannot pay for all of the experiences that students wish to undertake. For many students, therefore, self-funding such experiences might be a necessary, if not also a rewarding, approach to making such opportunities possible. 

Before looking at the option of self-funding, however, students are encouraged to explore these other resources. While self-funding is a potentially viable and valuable approach to covering costs, students should always first determine if a grant or other source of funding might not be available to lessen or fully fund such costs. This will take effort, but it will be well worth the time spent no matter the outcome.

The first step in determining whether or not you can self-fund is to do your research. This research should involve evaluating various locations where you could potentially study or work and determining what can realistically fit into your budget.

Some tips and considerations:

  • Research the cost of living in various cities worldwide. Some locations might prove even cheaper than staying in the US.
  • Use a budget sheet to see how costs compare in programs abroad versus staying on campus for the same time period or spending a summer at home.
  • Don't overlook smaller cities or towns, which are typically more affordable than larger cities.
  • The cost of living in non-traditional locations might be more difficult to determine, so be sure to do extra investigating early in your planning.
  • Look for programs, such as teaching, volunteering or internships, that provide living stipends or lodging with host families.
  • Pay attention to the fine print and remember to look at the total cost of the experience.

Part-time Employment

By taking the time to do your research and plan ahead, students who are searching for funding for a summer experience can raise a significant amount of money to cover their expenses by working part-time. For example, if your goal were to cover $1,500 of expenses, three months of part-time work (8 hours/week) earning $13/hour, would earn you almost $1,300. By increasing to 20 hours during spring break and one week in the summer, the total would be over $1,700!

For help in finding such work opportunities, see:

As most summer experiences through CIPE are 8-10 weeks long, the opportunity for part-time work (at Yale or elsewhere) before and/or after these experiences is a definite possibility with enough planning and commitment. Students might be particularly interested in earning money by working for Commencement and Yale College Reunions in May and June.


With any type of fundraising, it is important first to be specific about: 

  1. How you intend to spend the funds (including airfare, program fees, tuition, personal travel, housing, food, and any other costs), and
  2. What outcomes you expect should you be able to undertake the experience.

Consider reaching out to your family and closest friends. Think about them as potential investors in your future. As such, they should be given the benefit of a formal explanation (via a presentation, possibly) of your budget and the expected educational benefits of your proposed activity.Be prepared to be turned down, but that's O.K.! Preparing for and delivering this presentation will provide valuable experience that you can put to use in other ways.

Tip: Some ideas:

  • Suggest that instead of any upcoming holiday and birthday gifts, you are requesting financial gifts or loans for a specific experience with specific goals.
  • Ask them to donate frequent flyer miles, which could help you manage travel costs. Most airlines allow frequent flyer members to share their miles, but check airlines' policies to confirm.

External fundraising

Beyond asking family and friends to invest financially in an experience, students should also consider fundraising more broadly. Some ideas:

  • A fundraising event / Crowdfunding
  • An event where you (and possibly some friends) provide instruction for a few hours (yoga, knitting, karate, dance, computer skills, etc.) and solicit donations for this instruction

Student Loans

If, after all of those efforts, you decide to take out a loan, remember to talk to your family about doing so in advance. Some family members might be willing and able to lend you funds whether or not they donate money to the cost of your experience. In addition, some types of loans require a co-signer, and this person is most commonly a parent or family member.

Keep in mind that student loans should be approached as a last resort after exploring all other options. Yale Summer Session and Yale-in- London students may be eligible for educational loans; additional information including eligibility information can be found here.

For all loans, keep in mind the terms, including interest rates, fees, and repayment information. Loans from family members can have more favorable terms, but be sure to write up your agreement to avoid misunderstandings. Treat such loans with the same seriousness and commitment to repayment that you would for a car or home loan, for instance.

Note: If you have additional loan questions about a loan you are considering, please contact Student Financial Services at (203) 432-2700.

Self-funding Success

Quote: The key to self-funding your study abroad experience is planning ahead. Although some programs do not return acceptance decisions until April, lining up funding should begin as soon as you submit your application.

From a Yale student who self-funded her int'l experience