How to Study Abroad on a Budget

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Study abroad is never something that’s going to be cheap, but it doesn’t have to drain your bank account either. There are plenty of ways for you to study abroad while on a budget. Here’s how to make sure you can have an amazing time, without having to worry about the impact on your wallet.

Make Sure You Know What’s Included

Some programs include more in their costs than others. When you’re comparing different ones, make sure you’re keeping an eye out to see what’s included. One program might look pretty pricey until you see that housing and extra trips are included with it. Same with a program that looks like an awesome deal, but only includes tuition.

Look for Travel Deals

There are tricks to finding the cheapest flights that you should keep in mind. Certain days are cheaper to fly on, and there are websites to help you find the cheapest flights possible. Compare days and see which one is going to give you the best deal. Whenever you’re searching for flights, use the incognito mode on your browser. When you repeatedly search a route, the prices go up.

Also, plan to travel a bit before or after your program. For instance, if you’re studying abroad in Spain, try to plan some time to see some more in Europe before you go back home. This saves you the cost of another long flight later.

Pick a Cheap Destination

Some places are simply cheaper to travel to than others. Make a list of the top places you want to study abroad and compare the exchange rates and the average prices of things, such as food and public transportation. While you may not be able to swing the price of your first choice, you may be able to go somewhere you’ll still absolutely love for a lot less.

Take Care of Things Ahead of Time

If you’re planning on taking your cellphone, see what kind of international plans your phone carrier offers. If you’re in a place that’ll have Wi-Fi in most areas, apps like Skype and WhatsApp let you stay in touch with people back home for free.

Call your bank as well and let them know when you’re going to be out of the country. See if your credit card charges international fees, and look into getting one that’s fee-free if it does. You’ll also want to take a decent amount of cash with you as ATM fees can be expensive. Take every precaution to make sure you aren’t going to be charged fees you aren’t prepared for.

Consider a Job

If you’re going to be abroad for a long chunk of time, look into getting a part-time job. Depending on the student visa, you may be able to work a certain amount of hours each week. In addition to helping your income, this can give you a ton of benefits. You can work on your foreign language skills and make some friends there. Plus, a job abroad can only help your resume.

Look Into Student Discounts

With international student discount cards, you have the potential to get price reductions all over the world. They provide discounts on everything from museums and historic sites to various stores and travel insurance deductibles. There are three different cards, so you’ll have to research and see which one will be the most beneficial to your needs. If you’re someone who really wants to explore all the museums and attractions a new place has to offer, one of these cards will help you save a ton of money.


You know exactly what kind of person you are and what you’re going to want to do in another country. If you’re a foodie and know you’re going to want to go out to eat a lot, set aside a chunk of money specifically for that. If you’re planning on hitting up the club scene, set aside money for that as well. Make specific little budgets that correspond to the fun things you want to do. That way you know your limit and can spend wisely and accordingly.

Get Travel Insurance

Most trips go smoothly and there aren’t any problems, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Travel insurance can cover a lot of things, like any medical issues or lost baggage and stolen items. If you have your laptop and other expensive items with you, you’re going to want to make sure you’re protected. Also, medical coverage is always a good thing to have. There’s always a chance of you getting sick in a foreign country, and you want to be prepared for those doctor’s bills if it happens. That will definitely make your mom feel better.

Hunt for Scholarships

Talk to your university about options for scholarships and financial aid for study abroad students. If you’re studying abroad with a third-party organization, see if it offers any specific scholarships as well. You can also check databases online and look for more scholarships specifically for study-abroad students.

Fill out every application you think you could be qualified for. You’ll never know unless you apply!

You can make this the study-abroad trip of your dreams without having to sell everything you own to afford it. With these smart saving tips, you’ll be good to go. Be smart and plan ahead – the world is waiting for you.

Sarah Landrum

After graduating from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR, Sarah moved to Harrisburg to start her career as a Digital Media Specialist and a writer. She later founded Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to helping young professionals navigate the work world and find happiness and success in their careers.

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