Studying abroad doesn’t have to break the bank. With thoughtful planning and research, students can reduce the associated costs to make it more affordable. Some of our top tips include:
The Institute for Study Abroad at Butler University provides students with a helpful tool for considering all the costs associated with a study abroad experience.
Being surrounded by the right atmosphere can be almost as important as the overall study abroad experience. We’ve all heard horror stories about bad roommates or less than ideal housing, and these issues can be even more exasperating when living in a foreign country. Students who enjoy being constantly surrounded by their peers will likely do well in dormitory-style housing offered by host universities, while those who enjoy their quiet time may want to seek private accommodation. The most common types of housing are discussed below for an idea of what’s available. Students should check with their study abroad organization or institution to ensure all of these options are offered in their chosen location.
Similar to SA101, this organization allows students to post reviews of different programs, including opportunities to study, teach, volunteer, or intern abroad. It also provides reviews of TEFL courses, GAP year programs, high school trips, and language schools.
Students looking for a truly immersive experience will be drawn to the home-stay option, where host-families take in a student and allow them to live in their home during their overseas education. This option is mostly made available to students undertaking short-term programs, while those in more long-term programs may live with numerous host families throughout their time abroad. Host families can come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from a single-parent household to a retired couple. Students electing to live in a home-stay should be comfortable spending time with their families and willing to abide by the rules of the house. Those who truly wish to experience local culture often gravitate to this option, as many host families will provide meals and allow students to take part in family activities. For students studying a foreign language, this can be a wonderful option for increasing levels of fluency.
For students just starting to research potential study abroad trips, a number of organizations provide search tools that allow users to sift through programs by country, length, area of study, or cost. Take a look at some of the best online tools:
While most study abroad program tuition costs will be in American dollars, students with money on the mind should also consider currency rates when factoring in travel and living expenses. While the USD is stronger than some currencies, in places like Europe the dollar will be weaker.
Study abroad trips can span from two weeks to an entire degree program. Depending on their academic and personal goals, students should decide where they want to be on this spectrum and seek out programs designed to meet those needs.
Verge Magazine provides a great list of tips and tricks for making the most of your study abroad experience, such as finding housing that will complement your area of study and researching prospective neighborhoods.
Most students choose to study abroad after one or two years of education at their home university. However, this is also the time when major-specific coursework begins. Students should meet with their academic advisor to discuss the best time of year to go abroad and how long their trip can be without compromising required coursework for graduation.
When it comes to calculating cost, study abroad programs are somewhat similar to college at home – in addition to tuition and fees, students will also have to think about living expenses such as housing, transportation, food, and social activities. Below is a break down of some of the most common goods and services in the top five locations. Students should note that expenses in cities versus rural areas will vary, as will those with lower or higher dollar to local currency exchange rates.
The destination country is key and can depend on a student’s major, goals, and personal preferences. For instance, a student studying Spanish would probably be better served in a place like Barcelona rather than Jerusalem. Similarly, a non-language major who only speaks English may feel more comfortable in an English-speaking destination. Other important factors to consider include culture, urban vs. rural, and time of year.
When creating a budget for a study abroad experience, it’s best to check with the organizing body to learn more about set fees such as tuition, airfare, meals and excursions. If the trip is through the student’s university, it is likely tuition rates will be similar to current costs. If going through an independent organization, these costs could vary. Additionally, some study abroad trips are offered as packages, while others will charge for each component individually. It’s best to begin assessing these costs a year before when planning to depart. A number of resources are available to help students financially plan for their study abroad.
Before deciding where and when to study abroad, students should first make sure is right for them. Living abroad can be a great experience, but it can also be stressful and require a lot of patience and planning. In other words, it isn’t for everyone. Additionally, it is also more expensive than normal college costs. provides a list of costs for programs of varied length and location to give students a general idea.