Funding Opportunities for Exchange Students

In my first two years at U of T, I got the sense that many students were anxious about some of the purported costs of going on exchange. I heard that studying abroad was exponentially more expensive than studying at U of T. Fortunately, attending a few information sessions helped to clarify the real costs of studying abroad. It turns out that for students who already pay for their own food and rent in Toronto, the price of the plane ticket is the only major added cost of studying abroad. School fees don’t change! The Centre for International Experience’s (CIE) agreements with its partner institutions allow U of T students to pay their regular U of T tuition when on exchange. This means that your school fees are not vulnerable to exchange rates. Moreover, you can study at otherwise relatively expensive universities by paying your relatively cheaper U of T tuition. Students participating in one of CIE’s various programs can also apply for scholarships, to help them make the most of their time abroad. Here are some of the funding sources that I looked into before leaving for Japan.

The Centre for International Experience (CIE) sponsors a number of scholarships and bursaries for its outbound exchange students.  Some of the awards have specific criteria, e.g. collegiate affiliation or host country, but others are primarily based on academic merit and/or financial need. You can find a full listing of CIE’s scholarships and bursaries here. Students considering the University of Tokyo or University of Kyoto should look into CIE’s Mitsui Canada Foundation Student Scholarship, valued at $15,000.

Many host countries’ governments also sponsor scholarships for their inbound exchange students. Japan and Germany are two great examples. For short-term (up to one year) exchange students, the Japanese Government sponsors the merit-based Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) Scholarship, valued at ¥80,000 (approximately $800) per month for the duration of your stay. Over the course of two semesters, or approximately ten months, this amounts to a significant contribution: 10 months × ¥80,000 = ¥800,000. I am less familiar with public scholarships in other countries, but I know that Germany’s DAAD program also offers financial support to inbound exchange students.

The Faculty of Arts & Science also provides a number of scholarships in cooperation with various departments. These awards are open to all students within a particular department, instead of just exchange students, which means that the applicant pool is larger. However, mentioning your admission to an exchange program will likely make your application stand out. You can find a listing of each department’s scholarships here.

Each college also offers a number of scholarships.

Lastly, external scholarships can be great, albeit harder to find, sources of funding. The University of Toronto does not offer a comprehensive list of external scholarships, so it is up to you to do some research, and see what is out there for your field of study. Students interested in Japanese studies should check out Toronto’s Shinki-Kai Scholarship in 2015.

If you nail down enough scholarships, studying abroad can even be more affordable than studying in Toronto!

Now that I’m in Japan, I’m glad that I investigated the real costs of going on exchange. If I had relied on rumours, I likely wouldn’t have applied to CIE. I would’ve missed out on the awesome experience that I’m having in Tokyo right now. If you have any questions about funding your time abroad, feel free to comment below.

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