When considering studying abroad for a semester, it’s exciting to think about traveling to a different country and immersing yourself in the culture there. However, before you start dreaming about life overseas, start figuring out how to pay for such an adventure. Setting up a budget allows you to know how much money you’ll need to save before leaving – and keeps you from getting yourself into a financial emergency in an unfamiliar country.
Figure out what you’re paying for
Knowing what you’ll need to purchase before and during your study abroad trip helps you determine how much money you should save beforehand. Here’s a basic list of typical expenses before and during a study abroad trip:
- Passport and visa
- Plane tickets
- Travel insurance
- Courses and textbooks
- Personal travel
- Other personal items (food, toiletries, souvenirs, etc.)
These expenses differ for each situation – if you already have an updated passport, obviously you don’t have to purchase a new one. And there are ways to save on certain expenses. For example, buying used books instead of new ones saves money, as does choosing to walk versus taking a bus or taxi to your destination. You even have the option of choosing a budget-friendly study abroad insurance policy over more expensive plans.
Create a budget – and stick to it!
Once you’ve figured out what you’ll have to pay for while studying abroad, it’s time to create the budget. Determine how much money you’ll have to spend and calculate approximately how much you’ll spend each month on expenses like housing, school courses, food, transportation and entertainment. The total might shock you at first, but this gives you an idea of how much you’ll need to save before you’re able to leave, and how much you can spend while you’re there.
Work before you go
Increasing your funds before takeoff only increases your chances of successfully sticking to the budget. That said, it’s wise to get a job as soon as you decide to study abroad. Start saving as much money as you can from summer jobs or campus employment. The currency exchange rate between the United States and the country you’ll be studying in will make a difference in how much you need to save. Use a currency exchange rate calculator to get an idea of how far your USD will get you in another country.
Another method of finding aid for your study abroad experience is to apply for study abroad scholarships. Some schools and most independent study abroad organizations offer financial aid for students looking to study overseas. Ask your school’s study abroad office for information on available scholarships.
It’s not easy paying for a study abroad trip, so creating a budget and sticking to it allows you to enjoy your time abroad without worrying about running into a financial emergency. Once you’ve gotten your budget together, have fun experiencing life overseas!