There’s no doubt that studying abroad is the experience of a lifetime, but it is also one that needs careful planning, especially as it relates to finances. Studying abroad is possible even if money is an issue for you, but you need to give yourself enough time to save and apply for grants and scholarships. There’s really no magic short cut and students tend to fund their programs through a combination of efforts, but we hope these tips will give you some guidance.
1. GET A JOB ON OR OFF CAMPUS. There’s no question that the best best way to save money is to make more than you spend, so send out your resume and ensure you have an income if you’re serious about going abroad. If you’re already employed, find out if it’s possible to increase your hours slightly. For motivation, think of every $10 you make as another meal abroad.
2. BEGIN LIVING WITHIN A BUDGET. Practice cutting your costs while you’re still at home. Set goals for yourself and download an app like Mint or Level Money to help keep you on track. Both apps are available free for iOS and Android and they both let you connect your personal accounts to see where you’re spending most as well as set goals for saving. Think about the way you spend now and think twice before you make an impulse purchase. Can you walk more to spend less on public transportation or gas? Can you organize a cheaper night in that’s just as fun as a night out? Change your mindset slightly and you’ll reap the benefits.
3. START SAVING. Saving is a lot easier when you have an end goal. Plan ahead so you can save as much money as you can before you come. The sooner you start planning and start putting your money away for later, the closer you will be the adventure of a lifetime!
4. DETERMINE ADDITIONAL PROGRAM EXPENSES BEYOND DIRECT COST. When you choose to study abroad, CAPA advisors will be happy to help you determine what some of the additional costs of studying abroad will be. These include transportation from the airport to your accommodation and back again when you depart, textbooks, cell phone expenses, your meals, personal entertainment and side trips as well as general daily living expenses.
5. MAP OUT COSTS YOU WILL INCUR BEFORE YOU DEPART. Before you leave the country, you’ll have some costs like organizing your passport if you don’t already have one, your visa if you need one, and your flights, for example. Make a plan for how you will cover these costs and when they will be paid. There are many hacks for getting the best deal on a flight. You may have to leave very early in the morning or stop over instead over flying directly to your destination, but these small sacrifices can save you money.
6. SET A DAILY/WEEKLY/MONTHLY BUDGET FOR YOUR TIME ABROAD. Keep in mind that you won’t be working while you are abroad, so the money you have in your account will need to stretch throughout your entire trip. Those budgeting apps we mentioned up in point two will continue to come in handy once you’re overseas. Making it stretch to achieve your travel goals is tricky. Plan your trips and expenses as early as possible. Eating out every meal will not allow your money to stretch as much as you want it .Stay organized to avoid expensive mistakes.
7. FIND OUT THE DISBURSEMENT DATES FOR YOUR FINANCIAL AID. It’s super important to keep on top of your financial aid and know where you stand in terms of money while you’re planning your trip and while you’re abroad. Finding out the disbursement dates is crucial for helping to keep yourself on track. Remember, you do not need to spend thousands of dollars during your semester abroad. You are there to gain the experience of studying and living in a new culture. The most authentic way to do this is not by taking all of your meals at restaurants or traveling each weekend. It is by mirroring the lifestyle of the residents of the country in which you are studying, which is likely NOT excessive. This may include going to markets for the majority of your food shopping, cooking for yourself and using your weekends to deepen your familiarity with the city in which you live.