How to Make Studying Abroad More Affordable
Studying abroad doesn’t have to break the bank. There is a lot of information out there online, on the intended school campus, and in the form of firsthand experience from friends and other students who’ve recently returned from studying abroad. Before you decide not to go due to cost, do your research.
Most people tend to assume that studying abroad is so expensive that they write it off before even investigating programmes offered in different schools in different locations and associated costs. This is unfortunate because studying abroad in some countries can be quite affordable, and it’s certainly worth the investment. In fact, there are some countries like Germany that offer tuition-free courses.
The bottom-line is that the cost of studying abroad varies greatly depending on the type and location of the programme, the length of the stay, and whether the programme is administered through a university or an outside organization.
In an effort to encourage more students to go abroad, many colleges and universities are committed to maintaining cost parity. In other words, a semester should cost exactly the same for international and native students, at least as far as tuition and board. Others offer vouchers that can be used to help defray the costs of airfare, meals and in-country travel, since these costs can vary widely depending on the destination country.
Some study abroad programmes especially those in middle-income countries can actually be less expensive than tuition and fees for the equivalent amount of time in more developed countries. With a little research, you might be able to find scholarships and financial assistance to cover a significant percentage of the upfront cost.
Tip 1: Apply for Study Abroad Scholarships
Most colleges and universities have a straightforward framework for applying for study abroad scholarships, one that lays out the potential amounts available, the process and deadlines for applying, and any restrictions that may exist. General scholarships for study abroad assistance, as well as targeted scholarships for diversity, first-generation (if you are the first in your family to attend college), and financially needy students are usually offered. Students must apply for scholarships and some can be very competitive. Be sure to look beyond your intended university’s scholarships. Examples of some of the categories of scholarships you can scout for include:
- College-based study abroad scholarships, including merit-based, student-specific, destination-specific, programme-specific and subject-specific.
- U.S. Government-sponsored scholarships and fellowships, including Benjamin A. Gilman, numerous Fulbright awards, Critical Language Scholarship and Boren Awards.
- Private organizations, such as AIFS Foundation and Rotary Foundation.
- Foreign governments or organization, such as German Academic Exchange Service, Korean Government Scholarship and the Chinese Government Scholarship programme.
Tip 2: Pursue Destinations off the Beaten Track
The best way to get a handle on the cost of living in your temporary home overseas is to compare the cost of living between the countries you have in mind, taking into account the fact that individual cities or regions can be above or below the national level.
Study abroad programme advisers should be able to provide you with the exchange rates and cost of living statistics for your host country, including those for food, housing and local transportation. Individuals who have studied abroad in the same location or on the same programme recently should also be a good source of practical, on-the-ground information.
Certain locations such as Spain, England and Italy are inherently going to be more expensive than others such as Ecuador, Peru or Senegal. It all has to do with the host country’s overall standard of living, especially as reflected in the post-secondary education system, and the overall price of basic commodities and services.
Tip 3: Opt for a Short Course
A short course is something you can study for anything from a few hours to a few weeks to a year or more. Short courses are becoming more and more popular with an increase in the demand for them by the students. Many universities have been encouraging students to go on short experiences abroad, coupled with on-campus coursework before departure and after their return.
Because these programmes involve only a limited time overseas, they usually have the advantage of being considerably less expensive. However, many of these short courses do not have the same number of scholarships available.
Tip 4: Look for Ways to Save Money
Two of the biggest expenses are housing and food. Participating in a homestay is considered the cheapest option and includes meals and laundry, and offers the best immersion. Homestay is a popular form of hospitality and lodging whereby visitors sleep at the residence of a local of the city to which they are traveling. Farm stays are a type of homestay, in which the visitor stays on a working farm.
Tip 5: Work or Intern Abroad
Internships abroad are a growing area in education abroad. Many colleges and universities abroad often reach out to their alumni to develop internship opportunities for their students. A paid internship could offer you some finance as well as some hard-to-get experience. You might also be able to find some sort of work when you arrive in your intended country, but make sure you investigate and follow local labor laws.
Finally, it is very helpful to talk to other students who have gone before (several if possible) to find out how much things really cost and how much they really spent above and beyond the “posted” price of the study abroad programme. First-hand experience from such students is usually the best source of information, especially when it comes to expenses and costs of living.