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How to Fund your Semester at Sea Voyage!

Funding a Semester at Sea voyage is a topic that comes up often when prospective students are considering their study abroad options. Studying abroad, visiting over 10 countries, earning college credit, and living on a ship in one semester is an experience of a lifetime that will forever shape the students who decide to sail.

Did you know that 60% of voyagers receive some form of financial aid?


Check out some options below for how to help fund a Semester at Sea voyage.

  1. Consortium Agreement: A consortium agreement is a written understanding between two schools that will outline credit transfer, financial aid, and course pre-approval. Many schools require a consortium agreement to study abroad. Almost all schools will require a consortium agreement to transfer financial aid. Please visit your financial aid or study abroad office for more information.
  2. FAFSA: Applicants are strongly encouraged to file the FAFSA and submit the Student Aid Report to the Institute for Shipboard Education (ISE) along with tax returns from the most recent tax year and any supplemental information that might be helpful in our review. International students are welcome to apply for any ISE scholarships. We ask that you submit a statement of your parent’s income, with an English translation and conversion to U.S. dollars, in lieu of the FAFSA and tax forms. The information that this process generates will be used both for federal aid and loans and for ISE assistance. Semester at Sea financial aid deadlines are typically 3.5 months prior to voyage embarkation date. Visit the Semester at Sea Scholarships page for applications and deadlines.
  3. Pell Grants: Semester at Sea is pleased to offer aid match for Pell Grant recipients wishing to sail around the world on a semester voyage. The Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate students to promote access to post-secondary education.
  4. Scholarships: Apply to any and all scholarships, including those through ISE and 3rd party providers. There are a wide variety of scholarships available from ones specifically for students attending specific universities to children of alumni to students studying specific topics. Take a look at our scholarships page and see which ones you are eligible and pay close attention to deadlines!
  5. Private Student Loans: Private student loans are available from most large banking institutions. The internet is a valuable resource to compare rates and payback policies.
  6. Student Assistant Positions: Apply for one of the student assistant positions on the voyage. Positions include: Social Media Assistant, Field Office Student Assistant, Dependent Child Student Assistant and more! Students are expected to work two hours a day while at sea and there will be no work expectations while in port. Grants are awarded in the amount of $4,000 and students are only eligible to apply for one position per voyage.
  7. Write a Contest Winning Essay: Are you a U.S. high school student passionate about diplomacy and peace building? Enter the American Foreign Service Association’s National High School Essay Contest to win a full scholarship to a Semester at Sea voyage!
  8. Get Creative: Do you have a skill or product you can sell to raise money? Students have taken this approach previously with one student creating and selling her own headbands to help find her voyage. Create a GoFundMe page and ask friends and family to support your goal of sailing on Semester at Sea


[su_note note_color=”#f47a6a;” text_color=”#003040;”]Want to know how much a Semester at Sea voyage would cost to you? Check out our Student Cost Calculator.[/su_note]


When I first got accepted to SAS the first thing I thought of was how I going to pay for this journey? I didn’t have my parent’s financial help, which I know many other students did but I was determined to find a way. I was one of very few students who 1) were able to pay for it completely themselves and 2) didn’t take out any loans. What I loved about the SAS financial aid application was how they included a comments section. This allowed me to express that I was paying for everything myself and my parents income should not be taken into consideration for how much aid I received. It was a success, Semester at Sea granted me $2,000 of financial aid!

– Brenna Petrie, (SP19)


Several SAS Alumni shared their experiences of working, applying, and even winning their way onto the MV World Odyssey. 

Madison May (SP15) alum who was able to receive numerous scholarships that funded her voyage.

“I got TONS of scholarships, ranging from $250 – $8,000 that I pieced together like a beautiful money quilt. My entire voyage was paid for (not including excursions, those were out of pocket) in scholarships!”








Brenna Petrie (SP19) takes a quick photo with her SAS themed stole.

For nearly 2 years before her voyage, Brenna worked two jobs while going to school full time. She was mindful with her spending and saved her money. She was also able to have a Student Assistant role during her voyage working at the field programs desk. A student assistant role has students work just two hours a day while at sea, with no work required on days spent at port. With this on ship job and financial aid, Brenna was able to get $6,000 closer to funding her Semester at Sea voyage. 

In addition to all this, Brenna was able to start a GoFundMe page, which turned out to be a big success. She also considered her rooming situation and decided to save more money by staying in a lower priced cabin. With all these factors combined, Brenna was able to make her dream of sailing with Semester at Sea a reality! She believes that there are many ways to make Semester at Sea possible for students if they get creative and use all the resources that are available to them.



Rose Coleman (SP04) posing in front of the Universe Explorer.

I received a SAS scholarship, took out student loans, and worked extra jobs before setting sail. I was a very frugal traveler, but still had amazing experiences in each country. I knew that I would never be able to piece together an experience like Semester at Sea on my own after college. I paid off all my student loans by the age of 26 and have never regretted my decision to explore the world with Semester at Sea.






The financial aid deadline for the Fall 2022 Voyage is May 18, 2022. Submit your admission application today to be considered!

  • Finances & Budgeting

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