How You Can Make Study Abroad More Affordable

If you've been considering a study abroad program through your school but have been slightly worried about the overall costs of the endeavor, have no fear. We've listed some tactics for cutting down on those costs so that you can experience the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of studying in a foreign country.

money saving tips study abroad

How to Make Studying Abroad More Affordable

Studying abroad can be among the greatest experiences of college. But, for too many students costs associated with studying in another country can make the opportunity seem out of reach. Learn ten suggestions that can help make a dream to study abroad reality.

1. Weigh the costs of available programs.

Study abroad program costs can vary considerably. Generally one-term or summer exchanges are less expensive than full-year programs. Some have fees basically equal to tuition due at a home institution. Others incorporate excursions and other extras that can increase prices dramatically. Comparison-shop available programs, factoring in costs for travel, housing, food and entertainment.

2. Consider going it alone.

After looking at your college's programs, determine the cost of studying abroad on your own. You'll need to apply to a foreign institution independently, arrange your own travel and figure out every other aspect of your time abroad. This route, though, can be cheaper than package programs through colleges. Be sure, in advance of going, that credits you earn will transfer to your home institution.

3. Reconsider Europe.

European countries are popular destinations for U.S. students studying abroad, but they are also very expensive. If you've been thinking Europe is where you'll go, reexamine your motives. It's possible they're worth the extra expense. However, if you mainly want the experience of being abroad, your money could go much further in a country in Africa, Asia, Central America and South America.

4. Consider accommodations.

Staying in a dorm or flat at a foreign university can be quite costly. A cheaper option is to stay with a host family. Far from putting a cramp on your international lifestyle, spending time in the home of a family during your time abroad can enrich your experience considerably. You'll have the opportunity to enjoy home cooking, participate in holiday observances and bond with a local family.

5. Apply for scholarships.

Many colleges provide financial assistance specifically geared toward making study abroad affordable. There are also grants and scholarships available from national organizations. Pursue every opportunity for free money that you can find. Spending time abroad almost always costs more than studying at a home institution, even with diligent planning. You'll be able to use the extra cash.

6. Bank wisely.

Experts generally advise avoiding traveler's checks. They suggest instead withdrawing money from a checking account using an ATM card. This method will give you the best exchange rate abroad. If there are fees, plan ahead when getting cash to avoid excessive penalties. If you'll be abroad for a full academic year, it may be wise to open a bank account in your host country.

7. Cut communication costs.

Bringing a cell phone overseas may be costly, including the potential for international activation fees and roaming charges. You'll save substantially by doing the bulk of your communication via Skype or another free Internet-based messaging service. Of course, you may still need a phone. One low-cost option is to buy a pay-as-you go model in your host country. Ask that loved ones call you to save money.

8. Cut out extras.

Paying for even basic living costs while studying abroad can be a challenge. Not being careful about discretionary spending can be even tougher on the pocketbook. While part of being abroad is sampling the local cuisine and enjoying the nightlife, don't max out your credit card going out every night. You might have group cooking nights or other home gatherings to save on entertainment costs.

9. Find every deal.

Save money abroad by always getting the best deal. Get local knowledge on where to find the best prices on goods. If it's part of the culture, haggle with vendors. When traveling, score savings on last minute airfare. Last but not least: Flash a student ID to get discounts. The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) has more than 160,000 discounts in more than 133 countries on transportation, accommodations and attractions.

10. Know what you're spending.

A sure way to let finances get out of control is to not pay attention to them. Putting everything you want or need on your credit card without a second thought will result in major debt. Instead, regularly review your finances, noting how much you're spending and where the money is going. Not only will you stay on top of spending, you may also be able to identify places where you can cut costs.

Not sure you can justify the expense of studying abroad? Find ten questions to consider in determining whether studying abroad is worth the cost.

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