Study Abroad

4 Ways to Cut the Cost of Studying Abroad

Studying abroad can be an excellent chance for students to develop skills that will make them stand out to potential employers, including foreign language skills, cross-cultural communication, problem solving, independence, and adaptability/flexibility. Studying abroad can also be a chance for personal development and growth, an opportunity to experience the world outside of one’s comfort zone. There’s just one minor setback for many students: the cost of studying abroad can be quite expensive.

If you’ve thought about studying abroad, but the cost has been holding you back, here are four ways in which you can make studying abroad a more affordable abroad

1. Consider a less expensive study abroad location

One of the most significant factors in your overall cost of studying abroad is location. The simple reality is that some places overseas are more expensive for students to study, and if you have your heart set on a particular location that has higher program fees and cost of living, you may be putting your cost of studying abroad outside your realistic budget. The solution: consider a less expensive study abroad location.

Research carried out by the HSBC in 2014 looked at the cost of international university study for 15 countries, an attempt find out which countries were most expensive and which countries were least expensive, taking into consideration annual tuition fees and annual cost of living. Among the countries with the highest annual total cost were Australia ($42,093), Singapore ($39,229), United Kingdom ($35,045), Hong Kong ($32,140), Canada ($29,947), and France ($16,777). Among the least expensive were India ($5,642), Mexico ($9,460), China ($10,729), Turkey ($11,365), Taiwan ($11,911), and Brazil ($12,627).

If you are already a German speaker, did you know it’s possible to study at universities in German at a very minimal cost? Be sure to check out our article “How to Attend College for Free in Germany” for more information. While cost of living is a factor for studying in Germany, if you speak German you may be able to qualify to work at least part-time on your student visa in order to help offset the cost of living. Teaching English as a foreign language, for example, is a very popular option among English-speaking students studying abroad, and you may be able to gain a TEFL certificate through your current college or university.

2. Search for scholarships and grants

While searching for scholarships can be time-consuming, gaining the additional funding is an ideal way to cut the cost of studying abroad. (More at 6 Study Abroad Scholarships for Undergraduates and How to Fund Your Semester Abroad.)

If you don’t necessarily have the time to study abroad while you are an undergraduate, but still want the experience of living and working abroad, consider looking into the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. The program provides grants for students to live, work, study, and research in a foreign country. Recent college graduates are eligible for the program, but the application process would typically begin during the student’s senior year.

Another funding opportunity worth looking into is the Rotary Global Grant. This grant can help support scholarships for graduate-level academic studies in a foreign country in one of the Rotary Club’s key areas of focus: promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, saving mothers and children, supporting education, and growing local economies. The grant provides a minimum budget of $30,000.

3. Be flexible on housing options

Another way to cut the cost of studying abroad is to be flexible on housing options while you study. While you may like the idea of having your own apartment overseas, this may be the most expensive housing option. On the other hand, if you are willing to live with a host family, or even share a dorm with other students, your expenses could be reduced dramatically. IES Abroad outlines some positive benefits of both homestay and dorm housing situations, both of which include great opportunities for immersion in the local culture and community, an aspect which can significantly enrich a student’s experience studying abroad!

4. Be creative and open to student budget travel

Weekend traveling and excursions can certainly be a wonderful aspect of studying abroad for a semester or year, but the truth is that additional travel can add to the overall cost of studying abroad. In order to cut down on your overall cost, there are plenty of options for traveling on a student budget. Read 4 Ways to Save Money on Student Travel for more ways to save.

Knowing how and where to take advantage of student discounts, planning ahead, staying in youth hostels, and being flexible in general are really good ways to cut down on your cost of studying abroad, and making your budget more achievable.

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The Author

Dave Harriman

Dave Harriman

Dave Harriman, SHRM-CP, has a background in human resources, anthropology, and international education. His experience teaching English abroad during a gap year as an undergraduate student in Spain ignited his passion and advocacy for student travel. As a human resources professional, Dave is interested in helping students prepare for future career growth, and for helping facilitate social & cultural inclusion in the workplace.