Our daughter, Lindsey, left last Sunday to spend 8 weeks studying and interning in London. I am so thrilled that she is having this experience.
We’ve spent the last six months or so learning all about studying abroad. There’s so much to consider: Where? How long? And how much? As in money.
Because some have let me know that they found my What does college cost? posts helpful, and because those posts and the How much does prom cost? post have generated a lot of comments, I decided to break out the calculator and add this What does study abroad cost? post to the mix.
What does it cost to study abroad?
Let me cut to the chase: study abroad is expensive. It’s easily 2-3 times what my husband and I imagined it would be.
Having said that, there is a lot of variety in study abroad programs. Things like which country you’re visiting, how long you’re staying, and whether you plan to do any side traveling will all affect the cost of the program.
KU’s Office of Study Abroad offers programs in dozens of countries — from Argentina to Vietnam — and in lengths ranging from Spring Break and Winter Break to a full academic year.
Like I said…a lot of variety.
In Lindsey’s case, she chose a summer program that includes some study for college credit, and also a 20-hour per week internship in her field. If you want to study abroad, but you’re worried about the prices, you can always obtain a degree online while temporarily living abroad. This will alleviate much of the financial stress associated with the process and allow you to obtain a great education in a new and exciting location. If you’re pursuing a Master of Science in Renewable and Clean energy, as an example, you may be able to find more information about how the country you’re staying in deals with alternative energy. Studying abroad should be a consideration regardless of whether or not you’re going to school online or not.
Here is what our office of Study Abroad told us we could expect for expenses for her program:
Program Fee*: $6750
Housing Deposit: $150
Onsite Transportation: $420
Personal Expenses: $1000
* The program fee includes housing and internship placement costs.
** Required because she’s interning and not just studying.
Our actual expenses so far have been pretty close:
Tuition and Fees: $850*
Program Fee: $6750
Housing Deposit: $150
Total to date: $9232
*After $500 scholarship
** She already had one from a previous trip.
Part of personal expenses will include any sightseeing, day trips, and side trips to other cities. We’re encouraging her to take advantage of those opportunities while she’s there, so I’m anticipating personal expenses to come in at more than $1000.
Money-saving resources for study abroad
Despite the high costs of study abroad, there are some ways to save money. Here are a few we’ve taken advantage of and all the credit goes to Lindsey for doing the legwork on these.
Scholarships – We’re learning that scholarship opportunities don’t stop with your freshman year. Lindsey has one, main renewable scholarship that pays for over half of her tuition, but she has become a rock star at seeking out and applying for additional scholarships, including ones for study abroad.
She won two study abroad scholarships totaling $1500: one from her university’s honors program and one from the study abroad office. The first came in the form of a check, so it will offset the cost of food and personal expenses while she’s there. The second was applied to her tuition.
STA Travel – Another resource Lindsey was made aware of was STA Travel, which specializes in travel for young people, like students. She was able to save on her airfare by going through STA Travel. She booked the airfare, so I don’t know the exact savings, but it was around $150-$250.
International Student ID Card – Obtaining one of these was on Lindsey’s to-do list for the week before she left. The ISIC comes with a number of benefits, including discounts with retailers and discounted airfare, train tickets and rail passes. You are eligible to get one if you’re over 12 and a degree-seeking student at an accredited school.
How to pay for a study abroad trip
Despite our initial sticker shock, this is something we all wanted Lindsey to be able to do. And we wanted to do it with cash. So we put together an “all of the above” strategy for paying for it, much like we’re doing for other college costs.
Here’s what it looks like:
- Some of the expenses (airfare, Visa, housing deposit) were due during the spring, so we cash flowed those items as they came up.
- We used savings from our two college accounts to pay the big bills (tuition and program fee), which came due right before she left.
- Lindsey saved as much money as possible from her campus job during the school year.
- She received a very generous gift from her grandparents that she will use to do some special things, like see Les Miserables on the London stage and take some side trips.
- Lindsey researched, applied for, and won scholarships totaling $1500.
The fact that Lindsey chose to go abroad in the summer means that she’s foregoing the income she would have earned by working full-time during that time. That was something to consider, although it’s possible that she might have been working an unpaid internship even had she stayed home.
On the plus side, it really helps that Lindsey attends such an affordable school to begin with. This experience would not have been possible, at least without debt, if she were at a more expensive school.
So that’s our experience so far. Did you study abroad in college? Is it something you would like for your kids to do? Do these costs surprise you?