Studying abroad has the potential to impact your life in more ways than one. From enhancing your education to broadening your perspective of the world, the benefits of studying abroad are countless and everlasting and therefore well worth your time and monetary investment.
However, if you’re like many college students throughout the U.S., a monetary investment of any kind is just not feasible right now. So, does that mean you must forego the study abroad experience for the sake of paying rent and purchasing books? Not necessarily. With these tips, you can learn how to save money studying abroad while still having the experience of a lifetime.
Select a Short-Term Program
When most people think of study abroad programs, they think of programs that last an entire semester or school year. However, these types of long-term immersion programs aren’t for everyone, hence the rise of the short-term program.
Short-term programs arose out of necessity and to accommodate students who have families or job responsibilities, who are not ready emotionally or linguistically speaking or who have limited financial resources. Since the introduction of short-term programs, program leaders have revised them to the point that these programs now offer the same high-quality, life-changing experience of long-term programs but at a fraction of the cost.
Whether you’re strapped for cash now or cannot afford to take an entire semester off work, a short-term program may be just what you need to enhance your education without creating unmanageable debt for yourself.
Look Into Scholarships and Financial Aid
Just like there are countless scholarship options for going to college, there are also numerous study abroad scholarships available. The awards range in amount and can be as little as $400, which can help fund passport and Visa fees, to as much as $30,000, which can help pay for an entire year overseas.
The goal of these scholarships is to help diversify the type of students who go abroad, as until recently, only individuals with a more affluent background were able to reap the rewards of spending time abroad. Before you apply, be prepared to submit proof of financial need, a personal statement essay, proof of academic achievements and letters of recommendations.
You can supplement what scholarships you do win with financial aid. If you currently receive financial aid through your university, talk to your guidance counselor about what you need to do to transfer your aid to a foreign university affiliated with your own. It is not uncommon for affiliated universities to charge the same tuition for study abroad students as their home universities.
Actively Search for an Affordable Program
Despite popular belief, study abroad doesn’t have to break the bank. There are affordable study abroad programs out there, and you can find them by doing a bit of research. Start by looking at less expensive destinations. Cheap study abroad destinations are not undesirable by any means. For instance, some of the more affordable locations include Taiwan, Germany, France, Argentina, Poland and South Africa.
In addition to looking for an inexpensive location, look into what each program offers. Some are more inclusive than others and may include meals, room and board, health insurance and field trips in addition to tuition.
Set Up Flight Alerts
When you sign up for sites like Expedia, Cheap-O-Air, JustFly and SkyScanner and then conduct a flight search for the desired travel dates and destination, the sites will send you notifications when the price of flights goes up or down. Flights are cheapest on Tuesdays at around 3 p.m. Eastern time. The best time to purchase is between 50 and 100 days before your international flight, though the price of tickets does drop around the week before departure.
However, if possible, you shouldn’t risk waiting that long, as there is always the chance that the airlines will sell out before you’re able to purchase, or that the price of tickets will go up because of a flight’s popularity.
Create a Budget and Stick to It
This particular tip may be difficult to follow through with. However, no matter how strapped for cash a person is, there is always room to save.
Think about your daily and weekly expenditures. Do you grab a cup of coffee before going to class in the morning? Do you somehow have enough money to go out every Friday night and eat out every Saturday evening? Do you pay for a gym membership or a transportation pass, even though you only live a few blocks from campus? Think about where you can comfortably cut back and do it. Every time you don’t spend on coffee, dinners and memberships when you otherwise would have, put the money away.
If you don’t have the money to study abroad now, get creative. Try the above five tips to make your dreams of studying overseas a reality.