Nestled between politics and religion, money is one of those topics we all think about, but feel uncomfortable discussing.
And with good reason. No matter what your plans are in this life, they will come at a cost, and increasingly by the day, a high one.
For study abroad students and their families, this includes considering how to pay for tuition, visa fees, international flights, housing, and living expenses. While it may seem overwhelming, smart budgeting can help ease the worries of this unique exciting experience.
Here are 3 tips for creating a study abroad budget that works:
1. Learn all that you can about Exchange Rates
Without a doubt, during your study abroad experience, learning how to navigate the waves of the exchange rate will be most valuable. While it is not something students should obsess over, it is an integral part of your semester away budgeting success.
For accuracy, always rely on apps like Oanda, Xoom, or XE currency which all provide minute-to-minute information on global markets and the worth of any currency.
Planning to withdraw large sums of money each week while studying abroad? The best day of the week for this is Saturday, once the markets have settled until the next week.
Prior to your departure, you should also reach out to your home banking institution to discuss expectations of additional fees that may be incurred when withdrawing money while living abroad.
2. Plan with the Big Picture in Mind
Far too often when I first begin advising study abroad students, their primary financial focus is on the cost of the program they are planning to enter. While semester abroad tuitions can be high, there’s so much more to consider.
Among the other costs that should be factored in, you and your family should also think about:
Flights/Travel to and from the host country
Room & Board
Insurance (Travel, Health, Foreign Stay)
Depending on the location and type of study abroad program you choose, the items listed above may not be relevant. One of the main things that often catch students and their families off guard is the costs of flights and visa fees that in many instances are not included with tuition.
I always recommend asking for or even creating an itemized list of what each stakeholder (the student, the student’s family, study abroad program, scholarships, etc) will be responsible for prior to signing any agreements or committing to attending a study abroad experience.
3. Avoid Money Mind Woes
Perspective helps us center ourselves and stay focused on our goals. Yes, study abroad is an expensive investment, but consider the benefits you will receive that cannot be covered with a price tag.
From building a global network of contacts, potentially learning a new language, and making memories to last a lifetime, there is so much to be gained that offset the costs you’ll be asked to pay.
One of the main things I always stress for my advising students is to ALWAYS build in a budget line item for FUN or “Funtertainment” as we call it in The LiveStudyLearn Abroad Association. It’s necessary and should be non-negotiable.
Ready to dive deeper into these tips and discover more on how you can build a study abroad budget that works well? Purchase my ‘Budget Wisely & Live Smartly During Your Semester Abroad’ Guide. ‘
Focused on helping students design a semester away budget that considers the core factors of successful international living, you will walk away feeling equipped to face your budget fears head-on.
Until next time,
Known as The Study Abroad Specialist, Kimber Grayson is a serial-study abroader turned International Education coach and expert. Since 2014, she has helped 100+ students navigate their semester away journey from the coastal areas of Spain to China and every place in between. In 2018, she launched The LiveStudyLearn™ Abroad Association, a one-of-a-kind online membership platform for study abroad students worldwide.
She holds two Master's degrees from two well-respected London-based universities and has experience working in the US, UK & and Italy.
In her spare time (what's that again?), she enjoys leisure travel city breaks, any snow-based activity, skeet shooting, and attempting to learn new languages.