Article | 4:53 min read

How to Study Abroad on a Budget

Budget and Save

It’s possible to study abroad on a budget! Despite the expenses involved, learn ways to manage it all and make sure you are prepared.

Student studying abroad in London

Living and learning in another country for an extended period of time is an exciting and unique experience, but we’re sure you already knew that. Studying abroad is costly and as a college student, it can be tough to save up money while you’re in school. Before you start dreaming about Spanish architecture or reporting in London, you’ll need to make sure you’re prepared.

Do Your Research

  1. Determine Where You Want to Study Abroad

    The cost of living can vary dramatically from country to country. Consider all factors when choosing your destination, including your interests, safety, and budget. Some countries, like ones in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia, have much lower cost of living than others. Also keep in mind, studying abroad during touristy off-seasons, like winter in Paris, is less expensive than peak seasons like summer when everyone is visiting for vacation. Whatever you decide, it's important to make sure you are fully informed.
  2. Visit Your Study Abroad Fair

    Check and see if your school has a study abroad fair. Students who have studied abroad before can give you great advice and help you narrow down your decision. Be sure to ask lots of questions-they've been in your position before!

Plan Ahead

  1. Get Your Passport

    If you don't already have a passport, apply far in advance. Receiving your passport can take anywhere between six to nine weeks for routine service. By applying early, you can avoid the extra fees that come with expedited service.
  2. Apply to Grants and Scholarships

    Look into your options for scholarships and financial aid. Planning ahead can help you get scholarships and grants that may help you live a little easier abroad. Oftentimes, you can apply for scholarships from your school or from outside organizations. There are plenty of diverse scholarships-whether you are a proficient Spanish speaker or you're a former girl scout, there might be a unique scholarship out there that is just begging for your application. Just make sure you're aware of the deadlines to submit essays and other forms.
  3. Consider a Work-Study or Paid Internship

    While you’re studying abroad as a full-time student, you may be eligible to work a certain amount of part-time hours a week. This may be a great opportunity to help fund your weekend excursions. It’s also common for students to get an internship for a whole semester while abroad. A paid internship is a good way to build your resume while making some extra cash!
  4. Set Your Budget Before You Leave

    There are many costs for studying abroad, such as program prices and hidden fees. Make sure you are aware of what you’ll pay while you’re planning your trip. Use our free budgeting planner to help you plan out your trip expenses!

Purchase Wisely

  1. Decide What You Need to Bring

    Before you hop on a plane, figure out what you're going to need for your adventure. Planning on doing a lot of weekend traveling? Invest in a durable backpack and comfortable shoes. Check out local consignment stores or online resale sites like Poshmark to reduce the cost of buying something new.
  2. Know the Details of Your Phone Plan

    To avoid extra charges and large bills, it's also important to think about your options for keeping in touch with your stateside friends and family. Check out your cellular provider's options for international travel. But beware of unexpected charges for roaming-you might find yourself paying hefty fees for sending one text. Apps like WhatsApp and other messaging apps might help you avoid that headache, but only use them when you have a Wi-Fi connection or can potentially use a lot of your data. Some people opt to leave their phone at home and get a new phone with an international number. Do your research and decide which option is best for you and your needs before you go.
  3. Consider Travel Rewards

    During your studies abroad, you’re going to be spending money one way or another. You might as well be earning points and rewards for doing so. Many travel rewards cards offer sign-up bonuses and perks. Building up the points can benefit you later!
  4. Take Advantage of Student Discounts

    Don’t forget to bring your student ID to save on transportation and entertainment! Many countries and companies give major perks to students. For example, many museums give students free admission.

Don't Forget

  1. Money

    With all of this to organize, you might forget one of the most basic yet important things you'll need: money. Let your credit card company and bank know that you'll be traveling internationally to avoid a declined transaction. During those first few days, having cash is crucial. Be sure to visit Central Bank and exchange currency before you leave.

    If you’re traveling with a debit card, make sure your parents have access to your account. It is also important to determine if your debit card will be accepted. A debit card may not always be accepted somewhere. Since a debit card is a direct link to the funds in your checking account, it's more risky if compromised and you'd be without money until your bank can resolve the issue. With a credit card, it's not directly tied to your money, so it's more secure. Plus, a credit card has a better rate of exchange (lower international transaction fee).
  2. Safety

    It is important to keep safety in mind when traveling abroad. Before you leave, do your research and get to know your destination before you arrive. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings and keep your important documents locked away. For more tips, check out the best ways to carry your money while abroad.

Preparing to study abroad can seem a little overwhelming, but the experience will make it all worthwhile. Central Travel is always here to help if you need a little extra help planning your adventure. Next on your to-do list? Get excited.

The information provided in these articles is intended for informational purposes only. It is not to be construed as the opinion of Central Bancompany, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and does not imply endorsement or support of any of the mentioned information, products, services, or providers. All information presented is without any representation, guaranty, or warranty regarding the accuracy, relevance, or completeness of the information.