So it’s not surprising that studying abroad is a popular trend worldwide. In the U.S. alone, the number of students that studied abroad grew by 2.3 percent from the previous year.
Many students hope they will have the opportunity to study abroad while they’re in college. While most hope for the chance, few students consider the logistics of how they will pay for the experience.
How to Finance the Learning Experience
Studying abroad is an enriching experience, but it can come with a hefty price tag. Research from the International Institute of Education found that the average cost is about $18,000 per semester.
With an average price tag that high, many students don’t even try to work out the financing, assuming they’ll never be able to afford it. But there are many ways you can pay for your dreams of studying abroad without breaking the bank. Let’s look at four different options below.
Paying out of Pocket
If loans or scholarships aren’t an option, it is possible to pay to study abroad out of pocket. To do this, you’ll need to calculate the full cost of your trip, beyond just the program fees. This includes things like food, travel expenses, school materials, and more.
You’ll also want to consider the exchange rate. In some countries, the U.S. dollar is weak compared to the local currency. This means you’ll need to save more than you anticipated.
You might consider fundraising and asking for donations to help pay for the trip. And it’s also possible to find a job while you’re studying abroad to help pay for living expenses and food. Or you could consider taking on a side hustle to save money for the trip ahead of time.
This is easily the hardest way to pay for study abroad upfront; however, you’ll have much less of a headache later because you didn’t take on any debt in the process.
Taking Out a New Student Loan
You may want to consider taking out a student loan for study abroad. Your current federal loans may cover some of the costs, but you’re likely to incur some unexpected expenses along the way. Private loans are a way to bridge the gap and cover any expenses left by the gap in funding.
However, you should think long and hard about this option. Student debt is a well- known problem today, impacting millions of college students. Do you really want to add another $18,000 to that problem?
Finding a Scholarship
One of the best ways to finance your dreams of studying abroad is by getting a scholarship to pay for it. There are thousands of study abroad scholarships available, but most people just don’t know where to look. Start researching early and often. If you get started early, your chances of securing a scholarship will only go up.
Start by contacting your college’s study abroad office and ask them if they know about any scholarship options. From there, you’ll need to do your research and apply for as many scholarships as possible. Keep in mind that scholarships can be quite competitive, so it’s even more important to apply early and often.
Getting a Grant
There are also grants available for students looking to study abroad. For example, the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is a grant program that helps students with limited financial means finance a study abroad trip.
The most important thing is to look for every grant and scholarship opportunity you can find. The more aid you can find to pay for your trip, the less you will have to pay out of pocket. And it’ll save you from taking on more student loan debt.
Is the Trip Worth the Trouble?
College students are often encouraged to broaden their horizons and pursue study abroad programs. Studying abroad can give you a broader perspective of the world and help you learn about new cultures.
There are scholarships and grants available as solutions if you’re motivated to look. And it is possible to pay for the trip out of pocket by saving far in advance, fundraising, and working remotely.
But be wary of relying on high-interest loans to pay for the experience. Student loan debt can hamper you financially and limit your options down the road. You should carefully consider whether it’s worth the additional burden.
Studying abroad may be worth the high price tag, but make sure you understand what you’re getting into first. Figure out the real cost of the program and look for scholarships, grants, and other ways to pay for it without taking on more debt.
By Matt Lenhard– the Webmaster of The Student Loan Report