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Looking to Pay for Study Abroad? A 529 Plan Can Help

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Global learning has become an essential part of the college experience. Thousands of students each year take advantage of study abroad programs to meet academic and personal goals. 

Studying abroad can come with a hefty price tag, averaging about $16,000 per semester. Many students are willing to take on more debt in exchange for the global experience. Many families don’t realize that they can use their 529 plan to help offset the costs of studying abroad.

Which study abroad programs are eligible?

Whether your student is interested in studying abroad for a semester or an entire year, a 529 plan can be used at any school that participates in the federal student aid program. See the full list of eligible schools here.

Interested in an international degree program? Many international schools participate in the American federal student aid programs and may qualify as an eligible school. For more information and to see a list of participating schools, visit

Which study abroad expenses are qualified?

Most study abroad expenses are made up of tuition, fees, required textbooks, and approved room-and-board expenses. These are all qualified expenses covered by a 529 plan, just as they would be at schools in the United States.

Other expenses such as passport/visa fees, international health insurance, or an international cell phone are not covered under qualified expenses for 529 plans.

What about the plane ticket?

Travel is a big-ticket item a student’s study abroad budget. Travel and transportation costs — including airfare and train fare — are not covered by a 529 plan.

Can a 529 account cover room and board?

To use 529 funds* for room and board at an eligible school, a student must be at least “half-time,” and the room and board costs must not exceed the cost of attendance published by the school for that year. 


*If you are a Prepaid529 customer, room and board is not covered; only tuition and mandatory fees are covered by your contract.

Resources to help you learn

Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to the most common questions about 529 plans.

Smart Savers Academy

Tune in to a live episode and ask questions of the presenter, or watch a previously recorded webinar below.

Invest529 Portfolio Performance

Review and compare historical returns of Invest529 portfolios.