Study Abroad

4 Clever Tricks That Will Help You Save Money When Studying Abroad

The chance that you’ll need to save money when studying abroad is extremely high. It’s because while the exact cost of international education varies greatly depending on where you go to study, it’s never truly cheap.

Just to get some idea about how thin a budget you might need to have during school, consider that, as a foreign student coming to the University of Cambridge in the UK, your tuition fees will range from £21,168 to £55,272 depending on the course of your choice. Living expenses for overseas Cambridge students are £10,850 at the minimum. In the University of Iowa, you should expect to pay between $29,736 and $43,179 in tuition fees. Additional fees may apply and the living expenses are estimated at $9,500.

And don’t forget that tuition fees & living costs aren’t the only expenses an international student needs to worry about. There are also additional costs associated with studies (extra textbooks, trips, etc.), insurance, leisure, etc. Therefore, unless you are one of the very few insanely rich people, you’ll need to use a variety of tricks to cut your costs while studying overseas.

save money when studying abroad - hand putting money in coin jar

Khwanchai Phanthong ©

How to Save Money When Studying Abroad: 4 Ideas to Try

1. Get an ISIC

The first thing you should do when you decide to study abroad is to get your International Student Identity Card. It will open up a host of money-saving opportunities all over the world. This particular card is amazing because you will be able to use it not only around your university but also while traveling and exploring in your free time. The card can help you find student discounts to anything from restaurants and hostels to bike rentals.

You can now get the card online and stay informed about all the best offers using a smartphone app. But bear in mind that it will take about 3-4 weeks for the card to be delivered to you, so plan accordingly.

Also read: How to Manage Study Abroad Stress

2. Cut money transfer costs by ditching banks (and MoneyGram, and Western Union too)

An easy way to save money when studying abroad is to stop losing it during transfers. Whether you are paying your tuition or receiving/sending payments home, you are wasting up to and over 10% of it on fees and currency exchange. Switching your money transfers and tuition payments from banks to much cheaper specialized companies will solve this problem immediately.

Banks and companies like MoneyGram and Western Union charge extremely high fees. They also have very unfavorable currency exchange rates, so you are losing a few hundred, if not thousand, in transfer costs alone.

With services like TransferWise or Currencies Direct, you can cut these costs to the minimum and even boost the speed of the transfer as these transactions usually take a few minutes max. To get the best rates, you will need to compare money transfer services. This is because there are many companies available today and their number is constantly growing. Not all of them can be trusted, so be sure to use a reputed comparison and review service in order to determine if the service you are about to entrust your money to is reliable.

3. Become picky with your entertainment

It seems like the best way to save money when studying abroad is to cut the costs of parties, nights out, concerts, and all those things that make your student years fun and memorable. Of course, you can’t do this because entertainment is a big and important part of student’s life. So instead, you should become very savvy with your entertainment.

Look for businesses that offer special promotions and discounts for students and set up alerts for such in your area. Research local businesses and clubs to learn about any special offers that are always active. Then, subscribe to the businesses that interest you so you can be notified about any new offers.

Online you can find discounts for students using Amazon Student Prime, UNiDAYS, StudentRate, and College Info Geek Resources.

You should also be on the lookout for open-air shows and cinemas and various types of free entertainment in the nearby areas. With a student’s pass for public transport it might be quite cheap to go to another town to enjoy a free show. Websites like Festicket will help you monitor the best shows worldwide.

Also read: 5 Apps for Study Abroad Students

4. Go digital for extra study materials

Switch to e-books if you want to save money when studying abroad. The Internet is your friend as you can find the majority of literature you will need to use during studies online. And even if there isn’t an electronic version of the textbook or paper you need yet, you might be able to find someone with a copy who can sell it for cheap or share.

It’s true that you’ll need to be very smart about your money when studying abroad. However, employers favor those with diplomas from top foreign universities. This means that if you have an opportunity to do this, you definitely should try to get into a good school so you can win at the competitive employment market. Using smart money-saving tactics will help you succeed with this plan.


Samuel Jacobs is an expert in finance and has years of experience with international money
transfers. He is always on the lookout for the newest, cheapest, and most efficient money transfer
methods and shares his findings at
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