Financial Advice from a Student on a Budget

Studying abroad on a budget

The minute you hear anyone talking about going abroad, it’s human instinct to immediately see the dollar signs start racking up in your head. How is any college student on a budget supposed to afford something like traveling overseas when we’re out here on campus eating ramen noodles for every meal? That is exactly where I stood when I first heard about International Business Seminars. I decided I wanted to attend the Summer Europe Seminar because it was my dream trip. I had always wished to study abroad but never thought I could manage to get myself to go.


First and foremost, you must have the drive and commitment to save in order to meet your goal to go on this trip. I was determined that I could save up the money on my own. The idea of paying for it myself made me feel more mature and independent. It gave me the confidence that if I could do this, I could do anything and the feeling that I was ready to conquer the adult world in a few short months. My trip was set to begin in May which meant I had 6 months to prepare and save before my seminar. I fully committed to saving money and sticking to my budget. My savings end goal was the seminar cost plus an extra $1K for items and experiences, such as; food, excursions, museums, souvenirs, etc.

Figure out Your Options

My first piece of advice is to plan how you are going to get the money to put towards your seminar fund. I started by asking my boss to schedule me more hours at work, and I was granted as many extra hours as I could fit in. My plan was with each paycheck, to put away as much as I could into savings. Depending on how much I made, I on average was able to put anywhere between 20-30% straight into savings from each paycheck, which made a big difference in making sure my savings plan stayed consistent. Even with the extra hours at work, I knew I wouldn’t be able to save enough money within the time frame I had.

This leads me to my second piece of advice; look around in your local community or online for side work that you could do such as nannying, dog walking, or even house sitting. I made a large contribution to my seminar fund by working various side jobs on my free weekends because I was able to put all that money straight into savings.


The next step I took was to investigate which scholarship options could help with funding my trip. When it comes to scholarship applications, the key is organization! Here are some key tips that I learned from applying:

• Write down the name of the scholarship and highlight the deadline next to it in big letters.

• Underneath that jot down what requirements there are to complete the application.

• Check over that you will be able to complete the requirements that you will be responsible for if you are granted the scholarship

• Get in contact with your Study Abroad Office and IBS Staff on tips for what the applications are looking for and if there may be other’s that you may not have known about to help with funding

• Speak with your professors and ask them if they could help with writing you an academic letter of recommendation (some scholarships have this as a requirement)

Speak Your Truth

I’m going to be completely honest; scholarships take A LOT of work, so you need to be prepared for that. Set aside some time for yourself to dive into them and put 100% effort into completing them as soon as you can. Just make sure they are on time! Most of the questions they ask in the applications are to figure out who you are as a person and why you want to go on this trip. My biggest tip is to just speak your truth, I made sure in mine that I was showing those who review it that I’m fulfilling a dream that I have had for a long time and that I was willing to work hard to achieve it.


It’s hard to picture at a college student’s age and limited availability of free time that this trip can be affordable, it almost sounds too good to be true. But trust me when I say that it’s all TRUE. You need to know that it is possible and that YOU CAN DO IT! You just need to make sure that you believe in yourself enough that you can and work hard enough. No one can take away from you the pride you get from being able to say that at 22 years old, you were able to work hard enough to send yourself overseas for the adventure of a lifetime.
Dreams Can Come True, all You need is a Budget

Shea Stanley
Shea Stanley

School: Northern Illinois University

While being abroad, I learned just how big and beautiful this world truly is.

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