Off-Campus Study

More than 50 percent of Grinnell College students, many of whom receive financial aid, participate in an off-campus study (OCS) program. Find more information about how financial aid works with OCS below. You can also review the Off-Campus Study Tip Sheet (PDF). You can learn more about OCS programs and advising on the Office of Off-Campus Study’s website.

Financial Aid for Off-Campus Study

Students may use Grinnell-funded financial aid for one Grinnell-approved off-campus study program. Students approved for an OCS program who wish to receive aid must complete the same financial aid application process as students intending to remain on campus. All financial aid deadlines and requirements still apply. Visit the online financial aid office (student login required) to check the status of your financial aid materials. Financial aid notices for the fall are generally provided by June, and aid notices for the spring will be adjusted in November. 

Certain conditions apply to OCS that may affect your financial aid:

  • Students who receive institutional need-based aid can generally expect their family contribution to remain the same when they participate in OCS. Aid will be adjusted based on the cost of the OCS program. Examples of need-based aid include Harry Hopkins 1912 Grant, Grinnell Grant for QuestBridge, and International Grant. The cost of attendance includes required expenses related to tuition and fees; housing and food; books, course materials, supplies, and equipment; miscellaneous personal expenses; and transportation. Optional fees (including those for more expensive housing and food options) increase the student’s responsibility. A student loan may be offered to cover the additional cost of a program that is more expensive than Grinnell. More information about each cost of attendance category is below.
    • Tuition reflects Grinnell College tuition or program tuition, whichever is higher.
    • Fees include all required fees. This includes the $350 off-campus study administrative fee charged by Grinnell and any required fees charged by the OCS program (e.g., health insurance, activities fees).
    • Grinnell includes the cost of a homestay for the housing and food components of the cost of attendance. If a program does not offer a homestay, the lowest priced option is used when variable rates are quoted.
    • The amount used for books, course materials, supplies, and equipment is the same as when the student is on campus.
    • The amount used for miscellaneous personal expenses is $1,500 for all OCS programs.
    • Transportation reflects a standard amount based on the student’s home region and their OCS region.
  • Students are generally not permitted to work abroad, and domestic OCS programs are unlikely to offer work-study positions. Therefore, for students receiving need-based financial aid, the difference between the cost of the program and the family contribution is met with only grants, scholarships, and occasionally loans for all OCS programs.
  • Students receiving only merit scholarship(s) can use these funds for OCS. However, additional grants and scholarships are not available from Grinnell to assist with the cost of OCS.
  • Contact the Office of Financial Aid if you receive ACM, GLCA, or staff tuition remission. You may be limited in how you can use tuition remission.
  • Aid will not exceed the cost of attendance under any circumstance.
  • Financial aid is not available for pre/post-sessions for an approved OCS program. This includes intensive language study before the program begins.

Grinnell College pays all program invoices and then bills the student for billable expenses related to the OCS program. The only exception may be an initial deposit, which the student pays directly to the program. The following is a list of off-campus study tuition, fees, and other charges billed by the College:

  • The tuition of the program you attend or Grinnell College’s tuition, whichever is greater. The comprehensive fee published by some programs may include charges for items such as housing, food, insurance, transportation, and other items. Grinnell considers only the tuition portion of these fees when determining the tuition charge to be billed by Grinnell College. Additionally, tuition for pre/post-sessions, if charged by the program, is reflected as an additional charge on the billing statement from the College.
  • Off-campus study administrative fee ($350)
  • Grinnell College student health insurance (which may be waived)
  • Housing and food charged by the program
  • Transportation (e.g., airfare) only if billed to Grinnell College by the program (this is unusual) or paid in advance by Grinnell College
  • Other miscellaneous fees that are charged by the program (student activity fees, health insurance fees, etc.)

The College will bill the student the estimated direct costs of the OCS program prior to the beginning of the semester. After Grinnell receives the invoice from the program, an adjustment will be made to the bill to reflect actual charges. The bill will also be adjusted to reflect the deposit paid by the student (if included on the invoice from the program).

Questions related to billing should be directed to the Office of Student Accounts, 641-269-4100.

The Office of Financial Aid provides several tools to help students better understand the financial implications of off-campus study (OCS). Please note these tools may not be fully accessible by people using assistive technology. Contact the Office of Financial Aid if you need assistance.

  • The OCS Program Cost Comparison spreadsheet (Excel) provides a general idea of how the cost of various programs compare to the cost of being on campus. It also provides more information about outside scholarship opportunities for OCS. This tool is particularly helpful for students in the early stages of exploring programs.
  • The OCS Cost Estimators provide an estimate of cost and financial aid for their OCS program. These tools are primarily for students who have chosen a program or are choosing between their final options.

These tools are for estimating purposes only. Actual costs and financial aid may differ.

If you still have questions after using these tools, you may schedule an individual appointment, email the Office of Financial Aid, or call 641-269-3250. 

If your financial aid includes ACM, GLCA, or staff tuition remission, please schedule an appointment with a financial aid counselor to discuss whether tuition remission can apply to your program.

The normal policy for outside scholarships applies when a student participates in OCS. A student cannot receive more financial aid than the cost of attendance. You can find more information on the Outside Scholarships Tip Sheet (PDF). Please email the Office of Financial Aid if you have questions about your particular circumstances. 

Contact the Office of Financial Aid if you need assistance completing scholarship applications.

Outside Scholarships for OCS

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program

Open to U.S. citizens who are receiving a Federal Pell Grant.

  • Visit the Online Financial Aid Office (login required) and click on the Aid by Term tab to see if you are receiving a Federal Pell Grant.
  • Deadline is typically around (check their website for actual deadlines):
    • March for fall and academic year applications
    • October for spring and summer applications

Gilman-McCain Scholarship

For dependent children of active duty service members who receive any type of Title IV federal financial aid.

Boren Awards

Boren Scholarships provide unique funding opportunities for U.S. undergraduates to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad. Qualifying locations include Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Deadline is in the winter.

Bridging Scholarships for Study in Japan

Applicants must be U.S. citizens. They must also be enrolled as undergraduates in a college or university in the United States before and during the time they are studying abroad. Their study in Japan must last for at least three months and must earn credit that will transfer to their home campus in the U.S. Deadline is in the spring.


Open to undergraduates who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and will study abroad in Asia. Applicants must have need as determined by the FAFSA. The student must have a minimum GPA of 2.8. Deadline is in the spring.

Fund for Education Abroad

Open to undergraduates who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Deadline is in the winter for fall, summer, and academic year programs and in the summer for spring semester programs.

Diverse International Women of Color Study Abroad Scholarship

Open to women of color with a minimum GPA of 2.7. Deadline is in the spring for summer programs, summer for fall programs, and fall for spring programs.

Diversity Abroad’s Overseas Ambassador Program

Open to qualified students from diverse backgrounds who have strong writing skills and social media presence. Receive a stipend in exchange for publishing articles, blogs, photos, and videos. Three separate application rounds for fall, spring, and summer programs.

Note: Ann M. Landstrom, M.S. can assist Grinnell students who are applying for the Gilman, Boren, and Freeman-Asia Scholarships. Schedule an appointment through Handshake.

Scholarships from OCS Programs

Check with the program(s) you are considering to see if they offer funding. If they do, application materials are usually available on their website.

These OCS program providers have previously offered Grinnell College students funding for study abroad.

OCS programs can provide guidance on whether a visa or permit is required and how to apply for those documents. It can take time to secure the required paperwork, so please be proactive.

If you need a letter from the Office of Financial aid for your visa or permit:

  • Indicate if you need a hard copy of a letter with an original signature or a digital copy. If the former, you can pick up the original copy at the Office of Financial Aid. If the latter, we will email a copy to you. If are not on campus and need the original letter mailed to you, provide your complete mailing address. The cost of priority mailing, either in the United States or to a foreign country, may be reflected as a charge on your billing statement.
  • Indicate the start and end date of the program, if available. Some consulates require this information.
  • Letters will only be provided to the student and will not be provided directly to a consulate.
  • Allow 7 to 10 business days for processing.

Students who decide to attend an off-campus study program not approved by the OCS Board are not eligible for aid through Grinnell College. Grinnell cannot be responsible for notifying lenders that students have enrolled elsewhere.

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