Low Income and/or First Generation Students

Low Income and First Generation students may experience unique opportunities and challenges woven into off-campus study.  Indeed, many students perceive familial, financial, and/or personal barriers to off-campus study.  Much like traversing college as a First Generation student, navigating the off-campus study process can, at times, feel overwhelming.  IOS strongly encourages students to meet with the International and Off-Campus Studies Coordinator to discuss your options for studying abroad.

St. Olaf strives to remove as many financial barriers to studying off-campus as possible.  All students can expect any financial aid, scholarships, and/or grants they received as a St. Olaf student to “follow them” off campus (NOTE: work study may differ in this regard).  This allows students to use the aid and scholarships they currently receive toward their off-campus study experience(s).  Additionally, St. Olaf offers many scholarship opportunities, including one scholarship for which students are automatically considered during the application process.  IOS is dedicated to assisting students navigate the application and scholarship processes to ensure all funding options are considered during the application and pre-departure phases.

Helpful Links:
Diversity Abroad – 3 Hidden Costs of Studying Abroad
Diversity Abroad – 8 Study Abroad Scholarships that Every Student Should Know About
Diversity Abroad – Economically Disadvantaged Students
Diversity Abroad – First Generation Students
How To Make Studying Abroad Possible As a Low Income Student – Blog
I’m First – Yes, You Can Study Abroad as a First-Generation Student – Blog

Additional Considerations:
– How long do you want to be off campus?  How will your off-campus experience fit into your four-year plan?
– Each country has its own “cost of living”.  Some countries may be more or less expensive than others in terms of housing, food, activities, etc.
– Some programs offered by St. Olaf are less expensive than the cost of staying on campus for the semester or year.
– Your financial aid package (including scholarships and grants – with the possible exception of work study) will be applied to your off-campus studies program.
– There are many scholarship opportunities available through St. Olaf and other organizations.
– Sometimes families and support people do not understand the reasons students want to travel or study off-campus. These same individuals are often concerned with students’ safety, the cost of studying off campus, etc., which can make the experience difficult to pursue for many reasons.  IOS can assist students in navigating these conversations and/or talking with concerned family/support people.
– Find support!  Traveling or studying off campus is an exciting and sometimes challenging time, especially if you are the first in your family to do it.  Be sure to find people on and off campus who support your decision.  Talk with other students about their experience off-campus. What  tips, insights and advice do they have for you?
– Do your research!  The more you know about your academic program and the host community, the more you can prepare and share with your support networks.
– See studying off-campus as an opportunity to expand your understanding of the world, enhance your resume and employment application materials, and gain new experiences that will inform your future academic coursework and career.