IUC Series: How can I fund my stay at the IUC?

Today’s IUC series article, written by Karen, is complemented by a video I recorded about funding the IUC with a Foreign Language Area Studies fellowship. I recorded this video as a collaborative project with Jamie Cox (IUC ’09-’10), who maintains a video blog (vlog) channel about the IUC on youtube. Be sure to check them both out below as you read!

– Paula

So you have been presented with a lot of information about the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies in Yokohama and you feel informed and like this is the place for you.  But you’re wondering “What about finances?  Can I afford this right now?”  Well, hopefully this article will help give you a bit of insight into how much money you need to consider having and a few ideas about funding.

What should I know about the cost of IUC going in?

IUC does a great job of letting you know ahead of time how much tuition is.  Like most schools and educational programs, the tuition does go up a little every year to help compensate for the economy and rising costs.  In my year (‘09-10), the 10-month program was about $20,000 and right now the IUC website lists the 2010-11 year as $21,000.  For an intensive, high-level program that consistently receives rave reviews from its alumni and truly challenges and helps their students grow, you already know that this is a great deal.  For tuition alone, budget for that much.

Photo by AMagill

However!  If you are a student officially enrolled at an IUC member school (a school that helps to fund IUC), you receive a partial tuition remission.  At the moment, this is listed on the site as $6,000 (but remember that these numbers are subject to change).  At least during my year, the policy was that they will honor this discount for up to two years after you graduate from your member institution.

The most expensive part of the IUC is not so much the tuition, but the cost of living in Japan.  IUC recommends that you budget for roughly $20,000 for rent, food, and local transportation.  I lived pretty modestly, with a small but nice apartment and rented furniture. Since I mostly cooked, I had fairly minimum food expenses, which put me at about $1,300/mo.

In terms of cost, tuition and living expenses together can be fairly high, but are by no means impossible.  It would be best to go in with some savings, because scholarships are not guaranteed.  However, you should apply aggressively to anything you can.  The IUC will try to help as much as they can and the wonderful staff there do take funds into consideration when reviewing the cheaper IUC housing options.  I cannot emphasize this enough: do NOT be shy about applying to any scholarships or funding opportunities that you can think of.

What should I apply to for funding?

The IUC will apply to a plethora of scholarships on your behalf (they already start helping you out from the time you are accepted! They’re great!).  The scholarships that they apply to will be listed in the documents they send to you after acceptance.  The types of scholarship that IUC can apply on your behalf tend to be ones that are funded by organizations in Japan.  Do not be surprised if you are awarded a scholarship and then asked to meet with the donators or an organization representative for a small get-together and to say thank you.  This is not only a really nice thing to do, but you can help leave a good impression so that the donors will be more inclined to help the next potential IUCer.

But what should you really look out for on your own?  There are at least two big ones that I know of that you need to apply to independently:


What is FLAS?  It is the Foreign Language Area Studies Program, which is funded by the Department of Education.  Keep in mind, though, that FLAS is for students enrolled in a recognized school.  IUC is a program, not a school.  This means that those students are only eligible if they will still be registered at their home-school while they attend the IUC.

Paula funded her stay for both the summer and academic year programs solely on two FLAS fellowships. Here is a video she prepared describing how possible living in Japan with this kind of funding was and what sort of expectations one should have:

2)    Blakemore Foundation

The Blakemore Foundation awards scholarships for East Asian language studies.  What you need to keep in mind is that the deadline for this scholarship is (at the time I’m writing this) December 30, which is much earlier than the IUC application deadline.  This means that you need to be on the ball with this one!


3)    Your school

Your school likely has some funding available for students, so do not be shy about asking your advisor and contacting your East Asian department to see what is available!

In the end..

In the end, do not let funding stop you from applying to IUC and available scholarships.  Remember, even if things do not work out for whatever reason the year that you apply, you can apply again the following year.  People do remember if you show dedication and you might be able to get a very good scholarship that was previously unavailable.  The current economy makes things tough, but not impossible.  I hope this has helped give an introduction to the costs of IUC and things to consider when budgeting and applying for funding.

If you have any questions or comments, drop us a note here or email us at shinpai.deshou@gmail.com!

[EDIT: 8/29/11]

In response to a commenter’s request, we have added the following information below:

Other ways students have funded their stay at IUC without being affiliated with a university:

  • Leverhulme (UK)
  • College Women’s Association of Japan
  • Scholarship from the Tokyo Club
  • US Dept of Education Fulbright
  • Japan Foundation scholarship


Karen Curtin graduated from The Ohio State University in 2008 with an M.A. from the East Asian Languages and Literatures Department and a concentration in Japanese Language Pedagogy.  She attended the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies 2009-2010.

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15 Responses to IUC Series: How can I fund my stay at the IUC?

  1. Pingback: IUC series (final!): Former students – Where are they now? | What can I do with a B.A. in Japanese Studies?

  2. 紺月明 says:


    Thank you for your this great piece on funding. I feel like I’m in a bit of a pinch here. I earned my B.A. in EALC in 2010. I applied (as a CIR) to JET during my senior year and was not chosen, probably because my language skills were not quite up to what they wanted. I am working part-time but not in a related field. Anyway, I am interested in applying for IUC (I studied the language for 4 years, one of which was spent at KCJS) but I was wondering if there are any other sources of funding one could apply for other than Blakemore for those who aren’t enrolled in any schools? My advisor pointed out the Monbusho post-bac research grant but IUC is a program and not a university, correct?

    I’m still weighing my options, and I want to make a final decision soon, but I’m not sure whether I should pursue at this moment in time if my only option is Blakemore (and it is extremely competitive) or if I should try to aim for JET as an ALT this time.

    • Paura says:

      Wow, that sounds like a tough decision indeed! Well, if funding is a serious problem for you and you doubt your ability to reasonably pay for the IUC without the help of a large scholarship, just remember that the IUC has no shortage of students that have just completed JET! Really, deciding what you do may be about where you see yourself, and neither institution is going anywhere.

      I put out your question to some students, and one of our UK-based alums said she funded hers through Leverhulme (UK) and the College Women’s Association of Japan. The other said she just took out your standards loans in order to do it. If I get any more responses from other students I will be sure to reply here and let you know.

      Also remember that the IUC does its very best to find your money and will apply to some things on your behalf. So there’s a chance of obtaining some need-based money on their end, though there is no guarantee of how much. And yes, you are correct in that the IUC is not a formal educational institution, but a program. It is not accredited and thereby may not be eligible for certain scholarships or awards. Hope this has been helpful and we can find some more info for you!

    • Paura says:

      Two other responses include a scholarship from the Tokyo Club and the US Department of Education Fulbright (specified by the submitter as “not the fancy elite kind”). 🙂

  3. Pingback: Funding IUC without an affiliated institution | What can I do with a B.A. in Japanese Studies?

  4. 紺月明 says:

    Thank you for looking into this! I don’t think I’ve been able to find the ones from the Tokyo Club and the Japan Foundation. Do you apply any specific ones your own? The CWAJ one, I think, is awarded through IUC (I didn’t see an application form but they do mention funding for IUC) and the US Dept. of Education Fulbright requires the applicant to be employed full-time as an educator.

    I’ll keep checking to see if there are any more additions. Thanks again! 🙂

    • Paura says:

      Some of those might have been through the IUC, though I can’t say for sure. You may be able to email them and ask what sort of awards are applied for on your behalf. And you much want to double check the Fulbright stuff because I think there are several different types? Personally I can’t help with much on the technical side because I had a FLAS and it’s the only thing I applied for, but I’ll keep my ear to the ground for you and see what other people say! 🙂

  5. toranosuke says:

    I also was not affiliated with any university at the time that I attended IUC, and received a US Dept of Ed Fulbright grant (not the fancy elite kind, alas) to fund my attendance.

  6. toranosuke says:

    I just applied for funding through IUC, that is to say, IUC applied for funding for me (on my behalf). I didn’t apply directly to Fulbright or to the US Dept of Ed myself… So, that’s how that worked.

  7. 紺月明 says:

    I think a better way of phrasing the question would be: Is there funding out there you can directly apply to on your own if you are not affiliated with an institution?

    Another question for those not affiliated with one and that attended IUC: How much were they able to cover and how much did you have to cover yourself (tuition AND other expenses combined)?

    • toranosuke says:

      I don’t know of anything in particular you can apply for directly if you’re not affiliated with an institution, since I got my funding through IUC. But I was not associated with an institution at the time, nor was I a full-time educator. As Paula says, there are different kinds of Fulbright grants… and I’m not even sure mine was a Fulbright – I think it was just a US Dept of Ed grant/scholarship without having the Fulbright name attached. In any case, IUC applied for it for me.

      It covered tuition and fees and such, but not external expenses such as housing and food. I paid my rent, bought groceries and lunch and all that out of my personal money (read: my dad gave me money to pay for it).

  8. Pingback: Going to the Inter-University Center? | What can I do with a B.A. in Japanese Studies?

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