What determines whether a student participates in an exchange program or not? While studies, until now, focused on the impacts of studying abroad, this one investigates the premises. In other words, the research objective is not the consequence of having studied abroad, but what makes students study abroad in the first place. The basic assumption is that exchange program participation is determined in a similar way as higher education attendance. The astonishing result is that financial determinants - grants, financial support by the family, expected income - are not decisive for a student\\\\\\\\\\'s choice, even though exchange program participants are financially more supported by their families than non-participants. Instead, social background, such as parents\\\\\\\\\\' education, as well as academic success and the knowledge of languages give the necessary impulse. The results and method of this research project are especially interesting for economists and policy makers in the field of higher education.