Make Your Study Abroad Budget

Camille Cooley - Australia Underwater

Determine Your Costs

Consider the total cost of participation as well as your personal expenses. Research how prices in your host country compare to prices at home.

A sample list of personal expenses can be found in the fillable budgets below. Add expenses to the budget that are specific to you. Consider the difference between  a “want” and a “need.” You will need academic supplies (e.g., notebooks, pens, etc.) and financial responsibilities at home. You will want to consider how much money to save for additional shopping and traveling.


Determine Your Resources

Whether you’re using financial aid, scholarships, family contributions, or paying for the costs on your own, you need to determine your resources. If you receive financial aid (this includes any kind of state or federal loans) you can get a Financial Aid Estimate for your program to estimate and project your financial gap. Then, you can plan ways to supplement that gap through scholarships, personal savings, working, etc. Visit Tools to Afford Study Abroad to learn about other funding opportunities.


Create A Budget

Download and use the following fillable budgets to help you identify all of your costs: 

Estimate high when calculating expenses. It is better to have money left over than to fall short before the end of your program.


Manage Your Budget

Once you have chosen your program, create a budget and stick to it.

Remember: financial aid and scholarships only cover the official total cost of participation, so you will need to find additional sources of funding to cover your personal costs.


Tips and Resources for Staying Within Your Budget While Abroad 

  • Ultimate Student Guide To Financing Your Life Abroad by Go Overseas.
  • Ask your bank what your ATM and credit card fees will be.
  • Use a credit card with a 0% foreign transaction fee.
  • Avoid unnecessary ATM fees. Take out the maximum amount that you can at an ATM to stash and use over a period of time.
  • Stay updated on exchange rates (they change). Download the XE Currency App on your phone or visit www.xe.com to access current exchange rates.
  • Take advantage of student discounts. Keep your student ID card with you and consider buying the International Student Identity Card (ISIC). You can get discounts at museums, train tickets, and hostels. Research if the ISIC card is useful in the country you will be going to.
  • Shop and eat where the locals do. Avoid purchases in areas that have high tourist traffic.
  • Buy souvenirs and gifts at the end of your program. You will have a better idea of how much money you still have to spend.
  • Use weekly budgets to monitor the spending of your “needs” and “wants” to keep you on track.
  • Bring a refillable water bottle with you everywhere. In most countries outside the U.S., water is not free at restaurants.
  • Cook for yourself (if and when you can). It’s less expensive and healthier.
  • Find free fun. International cities offer free walking tours. Social media platforms are great tools for finding ways to explore your host city and country on a budget.

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