Costs of studying abroad
In an ideal world, your study abroad program expenses will be equivalent to the expenses on your home campus and paid for by the same student, family, and institutional financial aid packages. But that is not always the case. You’ll have to research the programs you are interested in and compare the costs. Program costs vary according to the financial resources and policies of your home university. You'll also need to create a personal budget so you know how much money you need.
Some home universities charge full home-campus tuition for participation in the study abroad program. Other institutions ask you to pay an administrative fee and pay the non-U.S. institution directly for its tuition and fees. Program expenses also vary depending on services—some programs offer more features, better support services, more on-site supervision, and/or more field trips.
Factors that affect your total program costs include:
- Home university tuition policies: This may be the single most important factor in your total study abroad program cost. Does your home university charge full tuition whether or not your foreign sponsor's program is cheaper? Are there administrative fees? Are there additional fees to transfer credits? Ask questions until you fully understand what's included and what's not.
- Cost of program: Some programs package all costs (tuition, housing, airfare, meals, insurance, etc.) into one cost. Others don't. Study abroad programs offered by private colleges or organizations generally cost more than programs sponsored by public institutions. You'll need to understand all the costs for each program to effectively compare total costs.
- Currency exchange rate: When the U.S. dollar is weak in comparison to a local currency, the cost of living is going to be higher for U.S. students studying abroad. When the U.S. dollar is strong in comparison to a local currency, the cost of living is going to be lower.
- Location: A study abroad program in a large metropolitan area will likely cost more than a quiet, countryside location. Also, the part of the world you choose will affect your costs. For example, Western Europe tends to be more expensive than most other parts of the world. And don't forget that you may need to buy an airline ticket.
- Hidden expenses. In addition to your study abroad program fee, you are likely to be responsible for a number of additional expenses, such as room and board for vacation periods, housing deposits, student ID fees, insurance, and passport fees, to name a few.
In addition to the study abroad program costs, you will need money for a variety of other expenses. Use the following list to create your estimated total budget for your study abroad program. You need an estimate of your total budget to evaluate what programs you can afford.
- Miscellaneous fees: Miscellaneous fees could include program application fees (if they are not included in the program cost) and fees for field trips, laboratories, or seminars that are not included in tuition.
- Personal travel: This expense includes daily transportation between your study abroad housing and the university, travel around your host city, any in-country travel you will do while enrolled in the study abroad program, as well as a airfare to and from home to where you are studying abroad. Visit Traveling on a budget for information on how to save money on traveling.
- Room and board for vacation periods: If you are enrolled for a yearlong program, will you need to pay for your housing during vacation periods?
- Housing deposits: The housing deposit may be included in your program costs, but it's a good idea to check ahead of time.
- Student identification fees: You may be required to have a Student ID from your host university. In addition, the International Student Identity Card can be valuable for students studying abroad. For more information, visit the International Student Travel Confederation at http://www.isic.org/.
- Insurance: Many study abroad programs include student health insurance in the program costs, but check to make sure. If you have a specific medical condition, make sure your policy covers your needs. Inaddition, you may want to consider travel insurance (to cover the costs of the trip in the event of a catastrophic event that requires your trip to be canceled) and property insurance (to cover loss or theft of your personal items while you're abroad).
- Passport: You must have a passport when you travel outside of the country. How to apply for a passport can be found on State Departments Web site.
- Visa fees, entry and exit taxes: Visa (an official document that gives you permission to enter the country) and entry and exit requirements for your study abroad country can be found on the U.S. Department of State Web site.
- Meals: Your program costs may include a meal package. Even so, you will need to budget for snacks or the occasional meal at a restaurant with friends.
- Phone charges: You'll likely need a “phone home” budget. Check with your current provider for details. Other options include calling cards, or internet services. Options abound, so check around.
- Computer: If you decide to take your laptop, make sure it has a built-in voltage converter that let you switch between the standard 110-volt power supply and a 220-volt power supply (standard in most other countries in the world). If you're laptop doesn't, or if you need another voltage, add the cost of a good voltage converter to your budget.
- Immunizations: Your host country may require certain immunizations or other health tests for you to receive a visa or to enter the country. The World Health Organization has an interactive map the details each countries immunization requirements and recommendations for travelers.
- International Driving Permit: If you are a licensed U.S. driver and plan to drive a car while overseas, you may need an International Driving Permit. (Some countries may recognize your current U.S. driver's license, but others won't.) IDPs can be obtained from AAA (American Automobile Association).
- Entertainment: Include moneyto cover costs for movies, museum entrance fees, concerts, and other entertainment you plan to take advantage of whileoverseas.
- Personal expenses: Don't forget to budget for personal items such as toiletries, medicine,camera, haircuts, and other miscellaneous expenses.
- Emergency funds: If at all possible, budget a little extra money for an emergency fund. When traveling, you never know when an unexpected expense might arise. Having some extra traveler's checks or money in the bank will go a long way toward relieving anxiety should you have an emergency expense.