Don’t let study abroad finances catch you off-guard. You’ll be dealing with foreign currency and exchange rates, so making (and sticking to) a budget is even more important— and probably more difficult.
The cost of living could deter you from studying in one country but persuade you to give another a second look. Plan ahead so you can have a priceless experience abroad.
Keep in mind that exchange rates between the US dollar and other forms of currency vary, so some countries will be more expensive to live in than others. Exchange rates fluctuate day to day, and even place to place. Exchange rates will be the worst at airports and other areas with tourists.
When reviewing your study abroad finances, also consider the cost of living in the location where you will be. Like the US, it will probably cost you more to live in a city than in the country. However, if your home university is located in an area known for its high cost of living, you may actually save money when you study abroad.
Before you leave home, see if you can get a small amount of foreign currency from your bank so you won’t have to rush to find an ATM machine in your host country. Also, inform the bank that you will study abroad in order to avoid your ATM or credit card from being blocked.
Ask the bank if it has overseas affiliates. You may be able to avoid some ATM or credit card fees by getting your foreign currency at these locations.
Bring a few traveler’s checks as a backup just in case the cards are lost or stolen.
When you calculate the cost to study abroad, remember that you will lose income when you give up your job in the US. Working while you study abroad may not be possible because of restrictions placed on foreigners.
If you are committed to getting a job or internship abroad, consider finding a work-abroad program. These programs can help you get the necessary work permit— which could be needed even if you plan to volunteer.
In addition to study abroad finances, don’t forget to deal with your finances in the US. If you have an off-campus apartment, find someone to sublet your room, or factor the rent into your budget. You may also have to arrange for car payments and other bills to be paid.
Students abroad face other incidental expenses, such as phone calls home, social activities and travel. But by thinking about your study abroad funding, budgeting for the trip and saving beforehand, your study abroad experience can be a blast without breaking the bank.