Paying for Study Abroad: How to Spend Your Time – and Money – Wisely


One of the questions students ask the most is “Can I afford to study abroad?” While every situation is different, the answer is that studying abroad can be much more affordable than you think!

Here are a few things to consider when planning out your finances.

1. Track Your Personal Expenses
It’s important to remember that the cost of meals, travel, souvenirs, and other personal expenses can add up quickly while abroad. We suggest budgeting about $1,000 a month to cover all of that. Some students spend a lot more, some a lot less. It all depends on the individual.

Keep in mind, if a homestay is available for a program, you will have home-cooked meals with your adoptive family. The additional fee for a homestay often pays for itself when you consider how much you may spend on food otherwise.

2. Is Your School an Athena Partner?
If so, there may be extra aid and scholarships available. Often times, you can receive $200 to $500 off, depending on your program!

Are you not sure if they are partners? Just ask us, or one of the friendly folks in your study abroad office – they love helping their students just as much as we do!

3. School Aid
Each school has its own policy on how they issue aid, but in general, Federal Aid (Stafford and Perkins loans, Pell Grants) and most state aid (not all states and not all aid) will be able to be applied to student loans. This is important to know when you are mapping out the cost of the program. If you receive $10,000 in federal aid for a semester at your U.S. school, then usually that can be applied to your study abroad program.

As for school-based scholarships, that is up to each school and varies widely. So, you’ll need to ask your school how your aid will be transferred to study abroad.

Talk with your financial aid office and they will be able to go over your individual situation.

4. We have scholarships!
It always puts a smile on our faces when we can give a lot of money to students who need it! Ranging from $250 to $8,000 we have scholarships available for every term and location. Check out the full list and how to apply for each by clicking here!

Also, here’s a blog one of our past students wrote about 6-tips for Study Abroad Scholarships.

5. Financing Option
PayPal offers a 6 Month, 0% APR loan to help with whatever scholarships don’t cover. This is a good way to get the payment extended over a 6-month period to plan you budget. This would be through PayPal, and would be pending a credit check.

When I studied abroad in Rome, back in 2009, I was able to get by comfortably on a very small budget. It’s all about what’s most important to you: do you want to eat at a Three Star Michelin restaurant in Paris? Would you rather have bread, fruit and cheese in the park? Something in-between?

There is something for everyone and every budget, but remember, the most important things are often free. They come in the form of personal connections, friendships, and experiences. Feelings and memories bottled up in our minds.

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