How Much Does it Cost to Study Abroad?

Study abroad programs can cost up to $10,000. Learn what factors go into that cost and the steps you can take to pay for study abroad.
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  • Studying abroad is many students' dream, but it can be expensive.
  • Program costs alone can range from $4,000 to $10,000.
  • Other factors that can increase costs are housing, food, and transportation.
  • Students can reduce costs by saving money, finding scholarships, and taking out student loans.

For many students, the experience of studying while exploring different countries is priceless.

But in reality, studying abroad comes at a cost. Depending on the program and country, study abroad can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000.

Study abroad costs can be steep, but there are a few ways to get help paying for it. Finding scholarships, loans, and roommates can help you cover some program and housing costs so you can enjoy your time abroad.

Learn how different factors contribute to the cost of studying abroad and what you can do to cut costs and find financial aid.

How Much Does Study Abroad Cost?

When you're budgeting for studying abroad, you need to factor in the costs of your program, housing, food, transportation, and more. Each cost depends on several factors — like what country you're in and whether you live in an urban or rural area.

Study Abroad Program Cost

Study abroad programs are usually the biggest cost of your experience. This is the cost of taking the trip in the first place.

Third-party companies typically charge you the program costs, which can be thousands of dollars. Some programs include housing, while others don't. So if you've already settled on a location you'd like to study abroad, look at what different programs charge for the same timespan and place.

Also, see if your college has a study abroad program and what it costs.

Cost of Housing

In many cases, your study abroad program cost doesn't include housing.

Depending on how long you're studying abroad, you'll need to find an apartment or a short-term lease. The cost of housing can vary vastly between countries and even regionally.

Compare several different options to find the best price point for you. Also, talk to your school's study abroad office to see if they can support your housing search.

Cost of Food

Your study abroad program may provide you with meal vouchers to use at restaurants, grocery stores, and other vendors. However, not all do.

If you're unsure, plan for the worst-case scenario and assume you'll have to pay for food on your own.

Do your research on your food options around your future living area. Compare grocery stores and use that information to start building your budget. And since you'll probably want to explore the country's cuisine, set a realistic budget for eating at restaurants.

Cost of Transportation

You have to consider the costs of both flights to and from your country of choice and the day-to-day costs of getting around.

You might not live within walking distance from your classes, so you'll need to budget for public transportation or rideshares. You may also need to use public transportation to get food and groceries, so budget for those expenses as well.

How to Pay for Study Abroad

College is costly on its own, and studying abroad can make it even costlier. But finding scholarships, taking out student loans, and planning ahead can alleviate some of the costs — and stress — of studying abroad.

Scholarships for Study Abroad

Scholarships might be available for students abroad based on several factors, such as academics, location, and whether or not you're learning a foreign language.

Contact your school's study abroad or financial aid office to see if you qualify for any study abroad scholarships.

Even if you have success finding scholarships at your school, don't stop there. Search for third-party scholarships online to increase your chances of earning even more.

Student Loans for Study Abroad

You can use federal or private student loans to help you pay for study abroad programs.

Just like comparing loans for semesters not spent abroad, you should weigh your options. Most students opt for federal loans instead of private loans because of the latter's higher interest rates and fees.

Filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is especially important if you plan to study abroad. The FAFSA tells you what loans you qualify for early on, making budgeting and planning for study abroad easier.

Saving for Study Abroad

Preparing for study abroad includes more than just packing your bags. Create a savings plan to help make paying for your trip much easier.

Make a budget if you don't have one already, and set aside money every month to start saving for your trip. While evaluating or creating your budget, find places you could lower or cut your spending.

For example, you can cancel subscriptions you don't use or set a limit on how much you can spend at restaurants.

How to Make Study Abroad Cheaper

Even after finding scholarships or taking out student loans, there's more you could do to help pay for studying abroad.

Attend a Cheap Study Abroad Program or Location

The cost of your actual program is likely going to be your biggest expense. Looking for different programs and locations from the get-go can help you save thousands.

Packages for some countries might be pricier than in other countries. Exploring different countries and areas to study abroad in could save money upfront. If you're set on a specific country, shop around for different programs that could send you there.

Also, check if the program you choose allows you to transfer credits to your home institution. Taking transferable credits while abroad may help you save money once you return home.

Do a Summer Study Abroad Program

The timing of your study abroad program can impact your cost. A summer study abroad program might be more affordable than studying abroad for a whole year.

The extra months of a year-long study abroad program can make the program more expensive. You'll also have to pay more for housing, food, and transportation.

A shorter, summer-long study abroad program can also make visiting relatively pricier countries more accessible.

You can also study abroad over winter break.

Learn How to Cook

Food can eat into your money quickly. Wherever you are in the world, cooking your own food can help you save money.

There's nothing wrong with trying local spots and enjoying foreign cuisine once in a while. But doing so for every meal adds up. Ideally, your housing situation will have a place to cook, along with adequate kitchenware. If not, consider investing in affordable kitchenware for your situation and eat in more. You're bound to find grocery chains or farmer's markets nearby. Eating in can leave more money in your pocket each week to help cover the costs of other aspects of studying abroad.

Learn how to meal prep and cook on a budget to cut your costs.

Get a Roommate

Getting a roommate is an easy way to slash your living costs in half while you're studying abroad. And since housing is a major expense, a roommate can make a huge difference.

Your school might offer different ways to find roommates, so contact your school's study abroad office. They might offer questionnaires or other tools to match you with a compatible roommate.

Social media is also another great way to find roommates. There are several groups dedicated to finding roommates, particularly on Facebook. There, you can expand your search beyond other students studying abroad.

Work While Studying Abroad

You don't have to give up work while studying abroad. It might not seem like the most glamorous use of your time in a foreign country, but it can help you afford more while you're there.

If you're a U.S. citizen, you could still work remotely for a U.S. company as long as you follow certain regulations. Those regulations might differ from country to country. There might also be opportunities for side gigs in the country you're studying in.

Frequently Asked Questions About Study Abroad Costs

How much should I budget for study abroad?

It depends where you're studying and how much you can realistically spend.

Study abroad programs cost anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000, but you'll also need to budget for housing, transportation, food, and other miscellaneous expenses.

Is study abroad worth the cost?

Study abroad programs can be worth it if you're passionate about exploring a new country. However, you can end up in debt despite your great experience.

It might not be worth it if you don't plan for the costs ahead of time and spend your trip financially stressed. If you want to spend your time exploring without debt looming over you across the world, know what factors affect the cost of your trip and how to support yourself through it.

Which country is cheapest to study abroad?

The cost of a country depends on the program you choose and the time of year you go. For example, for the Universities Study Abroad Consortium program, some of the cheapest countries to go to in the summer semester included China, Uruguay and Costa Rica, which have program fees of $4,000 to $5,000.

Can poor students study abroad?

There's generally no income requirement for study abroad programs.

Low-income students often qualify for need-based aid that helps them afford study abroad programs. There are also less expensive countries to choose from and shorter programs to bring down costs.

If you don't have scholarships or savings lined up, it might be best to delay your study abroad program. The costs of food, travel, and transportation can put a bigger dent in your finances.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute professional financial advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Readers of this website should contact a professional advisor before making decisions about financial issues.