How to Finance Studying Abroad
This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy through those links, I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. You can read the full disclosure here.
One of the best and easiest ways to live abroad is to enroll in a study abroad program. As a student, you can easily move to another country without having to fulfill too many requirements. From having to find a job, to having to invest into starting a specific type of business, there are many difficulties you may face when trying to move abroad. And you get a pass on all these if you go as a student.
That being said, moving abroad as a student can be financially challenging. While the costs associated with tuition and accommodation are generally the same as back home, there are a couple of extra costs associated with studying abroad. Firstly you need to consider your flight tickets to get to and from the destination. But most importantly you should budget for experiences.
Your time abroad is limited and you will want to make the most of it. This means planning for day trips and short visits to neighbouring destinations. It also means having some extra cash in case your new friends invite you out, or you wish to attend a concert/ festival. And most importantly, having some money for emergencies. What if you fall off a bike and break a tooth? Dentists can be very expensive.
But how will you pay for all this? There are a couple of things you can do and I’ll share them with you in this article. But first,
Is Studying Abroad Worth it?
Yes! Studying abroad is such as beautiful, yet challenging experience. It has taught me resilience, sufficiency, enjoying my own company, as well as being more comfortable around strangers. Furthermore, studying abroad looks great on your resume and makes you a more attractive candidate in this ever competitive job market.
That being said, there are two main ways to study abroad. Firstly you can do an exchange semester through your home university. Secondly, you can enroll directly with an institution abroad and do your whole degree there. If you go the exchange route you will have to pay the same tuition to your home university. On the other hand, if you do your whole degree abroad, you can find some institutions with little to no tuition fees.
With that out of the way, here’s how to finance studying abroad:
In general, scholarships are attributed based on merit be it academic, athletic, or having overcome some challenge. On the other hand, grants are attributed based on financial need. Regardless, both of them are non-repayable, and both of them are (usually) paid out to you and not to the school. Thus you can use the money as you wish.
When searching for scholarships/ grants, you should look in as many places as you can. This includes your country, state, city, but also the institution you wish to attend abroad.
Saving in HISA
One of the best ways to finance studying abroad is to start saving money as soon as possible in a high interest savings account. Usually online banks pay higher interest rates compared to traditional banks. Therefore I would recommend opening a second bank account just for the purpose of saving. And if your online savings account isn’t linked to a card, you won’t be able to spend impulsively.
If you are thinking about investing, I would not recommend it if you plan on using that money in the next 5 years. The stock market fluctuates unpredictably and could end up losing money if you withdraw when your portfolio is down.
And before you can save money, you’ll need to earn money. Working as much as possible before going abroad to study is what I did to finance my experience. However, depending on the country you’re going to, you may also work while studying abroad. For example international students in Denmark may work anywhere for up to 20 hours per week, but only if they obtain a work permit. On the the other hand, international students in the US may only work on campus under certain conditions.
That being said, here are a couple of work options you may have:
Any kind of campus job will be great for many reasons. Aside from earning money you can use to sustain yourself, campus jobs also allow you meet other students and build connections. And you also save a lot of time as you don’t have to commute. Servers and bartenders will make the most money thanks to tips. But jobs at the campus bookstore are always fun and relaxed.
Selling Digital Files
This is my favourite way to earn extra income because you get a lot of freedom. Once you create the products you can sell them over and over again regardless if you’re working or not. You may have to answer some customer questions from time to time, but that’s pretty quick and easy to do. This comes in very handy during exam time, when you may not have time for an hourly job.
Some types of digital files you could sell:
- digital planners
- printable files
- excel/ powerpoint templates
- stock images/ videos
Running a Blog/ Youtube Channel
If you wish to go this route, you will have to start your blog/ channel well before going abroad. It takes a lot of time to build an audience before you can earn consistent income in this manner. You will also have to educate yourself in ways to monetize your platform. Having said that, running a blog/ youtube channel is another way to earn money while enjoying a lot of freedom. You can always work in advance and schedule your content for times you know you’ll be too busy to work. And you can also earn money when you’re not working. Plus, the earning potential can be very high.
In this day and age there are multiple opportunities to work as a freelancer. Many people are starting a blog/ business and need help with something. From social media management and content creation, to bookkeeping, there is something out there for every skillset. Freelancing platforms include Upwork and Fiver. Additionally, if you are a content creator, you can pitch it to different platforms, regardless if your content is an article, pictures or video.
Starting an Online Business
In my opinion, starting a business is one of the best ways to earn an income. If you go this route, you can choose to either sell a service or a product. A service will require you (or an employee) working every time a customer buys that service. On the other hand, a product business comes with more freedom as delivery can be outsourced. Here you have two options: drop shipping/ print on demand, or a private label product.
The earning potential with a business can be infinite. And unlike the other options (with the exception of blogging), if you get tired of the business you can sell it. You cannot do that with an hourly job or freelancing.
And lastly, loans are also an option to finance studying abroad. However, I would recommend only using loans sparingly. Depending on whom you ask, some may say that taking loans to acquire an education is a good thing. However, taking loans to have fun experiences during your time abroad probably isn’t. That being said, if you wish to get a loan, there are two options:
Bank loans are a great thing to have and I would recommend you apply for one before leaving abroad. I know I sound contradictory, but hear me out. As long as you don’t spend the money, you don’t pay any interest on the loan. And the loan is a great safety net to have just in case of an emergency.
On the other hand, government loans may be a bit more tricky. Just like you would take a government student loan to attend your local university, you can also take one for international studies. However these loans usually go directly to the university to cover the tuition costs, so you can’t use the money for living expenses or experiences. But in some instances, you also get a grant with your loan, which is payable directly to you and you can use it however you see fit.
And finally, remember to budget. Budget to save as much as possible before leaving. But also budget while you are there. You should absolutely make the most of your experience and have as much fun as possible. However, you have to remind yourself that you’re going there to study, so don’t treat it like a vacation. Find a balance between being a student, living in your new city, and having some fun experiences and excursions.
Lastly, consider going where your money can go further. If you’re from North America, most places will be less expensive.
These have been my 5 tips on how to finance studying abroad. Did you study abroad? How did you pay for it?