CISABROAD BLOG · December 1, 2014 · 6 Min Read
Follow These 5 Steps in Affording Your Study Abroad

We all know times are financially tough for students. Affording your study abroad experience is a big concern for many, but the cost of travel should not get in the way of helping you achieve your dreams. With over 70% of  American college students predicted to graduate with student loan debt, study abroad programs tend to be very understanding when it comes to the affordability of travel, and we’re driven to making your experience fit your budget. In fact, many universities we work with encourage students to study abroad by ensuring that the cost of studying abroad is equal or in some instances less than what tuition costs at home.

Schools as well as employers want their students to gain a more worldly outlook to be well equipped to succeed in the increasingly globalized world we live in. There are all kinds of helpful resources and tips that can ease the costs of travelling abroad and help you achieve your ideal trip abroad. However, it can be overwhelming to start, so here is a list of ways you can fund your trip as well as alleviate your financial burden while abroad!

1.  Choose a Cost Effective Destination

Though the cost of living is going to vary throughout any given country, it may be a good idea to weigh your options before you land on your chosen nation to study abroad in. For example, countries like England, France, and Italy are generally going to be more expensive than Ecuador, Ghana, or Thailand. But if you are absolutely set on studying in France or Italy, you can save your costs by studying in Aix en Provence, France or Perugia, Italy. Major cities in these countries are going to have very accessible transportation, making you feel as though you are in the heart of the city.

It’s also important to consider expenses other than living accommodations when choosing your destination. Make sure to take into consideration the general price of other commodities, such as food and services. Some countries are going to have an overall more modest way of living, limiting your daily costs. Comparing the price of living between your home country and your destination, as well as the exchange rate is what will ultimately determine the affordability of your trip.

2.  Got Financial Aid? It Can Cover Your Study Abroad!

If you are currently receiving federal aid, it can be applied to your study abroad program as long as you are gaining transferable credits for the classes you are enrolled in. Our advisors help you with what can be a very confusing process. If your university is a partner with us, then the financial aid you receive for your tuition can be applied to your study abroad program with us. However, it’s best to first verify this with your financial aid office, as financial aid packages vary from school to school. You can also apply for various study abroad scholarships and grants through us or even through your school. Either way, it’s important to stay on top of any application requirements and deadlines. Talk to us about your financial needs and study abroad goals–we can provide some insight to your specific situation!

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photo credit: Rocío Lara via photopin cc

3.  Fund Your Trip Through Crowdfunding, Fundraisers, or Charity Events      

Once you get the word out there that you are working towards studying abroad, you will be surprised to learn how much support you can get to fund your trip. Most experienced travellers recognize the value and importance of seeing the world, so will be more than happy to help a student in need of financial support. And with the recent rise of various crowdfunding sites, you are sure to find a campaign that fits your travel abroad pursuits. Check from a variety of platforms, here a solid list to start: FundMyTravel, GoFundMe, Indiegogo.com, Kickstarter, Plumfund and GoEnnounce.com.

In addition to crowdfunding you may also want to create your own event or public service to help raise money for your trip. Remember the lemonade stands you set up as a kid? Or the sweets, popcorn, or magazines you sold to fund your field trips? This is the same idea! Another option is to organize a donation based fundraiser with food and live music for your friends and family. Not only will you be spreading the word about your travel pursuits, but you will also be providing great food and entertainment, giving back to those who help you.

4.  Explore Various Travel Options and Book Your Flight Far in Advance

Our programs do not cover the cost of travel, so it is important to do all of the necessary research on flight options far in advance of your departure. To help you keep track of your expenses for your experience, we’ve put together budgets to help you plan. There are many options when it comes to international airlines, and sometimes the smaller, less common airline companies offer the cheapest flights.

With that said, it’s a good idea to book your flight far in advance with these smaller companies, as the flights are going to be less frequent than some of the major airlines. It’s always a good idea to book your flight far in advance even with the bigger airlines, which can sometimes offer some very affordable deals. Another way to save on international flights is to fly out of major international airports like JFK International Airport in New York, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and O’Hare in Chicago.

5.  Spend Your Money Abroad Wisely!

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, keep in mind that you’re on a tight student budget and can’t afford to spend your money frivolously. We all know that half of the fun of studying abroad is being away from home, and at times it can feel more like a vacation than an academic venture. But it’s important to remember what you are there for, so prioritize where you’ll spend more than usual (such as tickets to UNESCO World Heritage sites) and where you can pinch your pennies (such as limiting the times you eat out per month). There are countless ways to unwind and have fun without going to the club every night. Instead, explore what the country has to offer other than the tourist attractions. You want to blend in with the culture, rather than stand out like an “Ugly American”. This is ultimately going to save you money, as most of the money-making schemes in foreign countries are targeted at tourists. Do what you came to do when you set out to study abroad, and learn a culture different from your own by immersing yourself into it.   

Despite what you may have been told or originally thought, there are endless amounts of options available to make your study abroad dreams happen. Doing your research and being vocal with your friends, family, and advisors will help connect you to the resources you need. It may not be a simple, linear process, but when you’re enjoying a safari in your down time from classes in South Africa, it will all be well worth it.

The CIS Abroad blog is run by Zoë Crabtree, Jenn Weisgerber, Siobhan Tripp, Emily Negard, and more folks on our marketing team. Head over to the “Meet the Team” page to learn more about us as individuals. On the blog, we share student-written content and information for students, advisors, other study abroad professionals, and families of students studying abroad. Check out our Facebook and Instagram for more from us and our students!