5 Ways to Pay for Study Abroad

5 Ways to Pay for Study Abroad

by Jenn Weisgerber, CISabroad Scholarship Team

Saving money can be the worst! Especially when it’s a big-ticket item, because it just takes so dang long to reach that large milestone. Figuring out how to pay for study abroad can definitely feel overwhelming, but don’t worry! We’re here with 5 ways to pay for your study abroad experience that will get you saving in no time.

1. Make the most of your financial aid and scholarships.

The earlier you start planning in this area, the better. In most cases, your financial aid can be used to pay for your program costs. We believe that study and intern abroad opportunities are for EVERYONE, so we work hard to stay one of the most affordable providers out there – without sacrificing the experiences abroad we know you want. CISabroad offers six different scholarships multiple times a year. To make the most of scholarships, though, cast a wider net – earn a Gilman, Golden Key, or Diversity Abroad award, and CISabroad will add a bonus grant!

2. Get high-tech with your saving tactics.

Pay for Study Abroad GIF_Professor Frink

Find it really challenging to save cold, hard cash to pay for study abroad? Save a few pennies at a time with an app that rounds up routine bank transactions to a threshold you set and holds the money in a separate account until you’re ready for it. There are quite a few new apps out there that can help you save – check out Qapital, Unsplurge, or Digit. Also check out this list of powerful money-saving apps from NerdWallet.

3. Hold the biggest tag sale ever.

Pay for Study Abroad_GIF_Tag Sale

Roll up your sleeves over the summer and ask your family and friends if they’d be willing to donate their finest vintage finds and in-demand collectibles — or whatever is taking up space in their basement! You’d be surprised at how much cash a well-publicized tag sale (or rummage sale, depending on where you live) can bring in to help you pay for study abroad, especially if you schedule it during a weekend with popular events in your community. List it online, in the newspaper (yes, that old thing!), and flier around town responsibly.

4. Look to your networks for support.

Pay for Study Abroad GIF_To Cash Flow

Yes, we’re talking about crowdfunding, but you can do it in a way that doesn’t come off entitled or makes you go on Shark Tank. How? Don’t blast it all over social media (well, maybe around your birthday), but instead email links individually to friends and family, asking them to contribute to your time abroad in lieu of birthday or other presents throughout the year. Show the return on their investment – send them links to the CISabroad program you’re interested in and let them know how this opportunity fits into your life goals. Although you’ll definitely make memories to last a lifetime, it’s more than just a fun summer – you’ll now be a part of the 10% of U.S. college students who study abroad.

5. Roll up those sleeves – and tighten that wallet.

Pay for Study Abroad GIF_Big Wallet

These two may not be the answers at the top of your list, but it’s important to be invested in your own life – literally. Look for a part-time job (or second one) during holiday break, spring break, or the summer that will allow you to stash away even more money. And the hardest part? Changing your behavior in order to save – but it feels good to look out for your future self. Bypassing that venti latte every day or that weekly night out with friends can translate into an extended stay abroad, experiential add-ons like our Explore Europe weekends, and if you’re anything like us, even more delicious food while you’re abroad!

Finally, remember that every penny counts – literally. Combine a few different fundraising tactics, and before you know it, you’ll see that savings account rise. Not only will your time abroad be a transformative experience, you’ll feel proud that you contributed so much to getting yourself there.

Pay for Study Abroad Gif_Worked so hard for this

Still worried about if you can pay for study abroad or an internship abroad? Trust us, it’s totally within your reach. Any of our CISabroad advisors (Chris, Brittany G, Pat, or Brittany D) would love to talk to you about affordable options that work for your major, as well as share more pro tips. Reach them via email, chat, or go old-school with the phone at 1-877-617-9090.

Not ready to talk yet? Watch these tips on Traveling on a Budget from CISabroad alumni Debra Castro, who interned abroad in Barcelona, Spain.

DID YOU KNOW? Use the code EARLYSUMMER on your program application by Feb. 1 and save $100 on ANY CISabroad Summer 2018 program. #smartsaver

Fundraise to Study Abroad

KalinaHello everyone, my name is Kalina Philalom! I am a junior Public Health major at The University of Massachusetts Amherst. I am  beyond excited about going to Costa Rica this summer with CISabroad! Since I came into UMass as a freshman, I have always dreamed of traveling abroad and expanding my cultural knowledge and global experience. Although my destination might have changed a few, or a hundred, times, my passion for wanting to go has not.

With my senior year approaching, the travel bug has definitely latched on and is in full effect. The only obstacle I am facing is a lack of financial means, which I know a lot undergraduate students struggle with as well. However, I am determined that “not having enough money” to go abroad will not be a reason that it does not happen.

One way I am fundraising for my Costa Rica trip is constantly updating and promoting my FundMyTravel Campaign. The great thing about FundMyTravel is that you receive the money as soon as it is donated to you! Another way I am finding funds is by searching and applying for scholarships. Most scholarship deadlines have already passed, however, there are still a few out there.

My advice is to search and apply early, and consistency is key! CISabroad provided me with external links on where to search for scholarships. Aside from that, we all know how resourceful Google can be!

My goal of $6,665 has not yet been met, but I am confident that it will be! To read my story, share my campaign, and/or donate to my trip, click on the following link:


Costa Rica

Campus in Costra Rica where I will be studying!

Costa Rica

I’m excite to explore Costa Rica

Breathtaking Waterfall at Arenal

Follow These 5 Steps in Affording Your Study Abroad

We all know times are financially tough for students. Affording your study abroad experience is a big concern for many, but the cost of travel should not get in the way of helping you achieve your dreams. With over 70% of  American college students predicted to graduate with student loan debt, study abroad programs tend to be very understanding when it comes to the affordability of travel, and we’re driven to making your experience fit your budget. In fact, many universities we work with encourage students to study abroad by ensuring that the cost of studying abroad is equal or in some instances less than what tuition costs at home.

Schools as well as employers want their students to gain a more worldly outlook to be well equipped to succeed in the increasingly globalized world we live in. There are all kinds of helpful resources and tips that can ease the costs of travelling abroad and help you achieve your ideal trip abroad. However, it can be overwhelming to start, so here is a list of ways you can fund your trip as well as alleviate your financial burden while abroad!

1.  Choose a Cost Effective Destination

Though the cost of living is going to vary throughout any given country, it may be a good idea to weigh your options before you land on your chosen nation to study abroad in. For example, countries like England, France, and Italy are generally going to be more expensive than Ecuador, Ghana, or Thailand. But if you are absolutely set on studying in France or Italy, you can save your costs by studying in Aix en Provence, France or Perugia, Italy. Major cities in these countries are going to have very accessible transportation, making you feel as though you are in the heart of the city.

It’s also important to consider expenses other than living accommodations when choosing your destination. Make sure to take into consideration the general price of other commodities, such as food and services. Some countries are going to have an overall more modest way of living, limiting your daily costs. Comparing the price of living between your home country and your destination, as well as the exchange rate is what will ultimately determine the affordability of your trip.

2.  Got Financial Aid? It Can Cover Your Study Abroad!

If you are currently receiving federal aid, it can be applied to your study abroad program as long as you are gaining transferable credits for the classes you are enrolled in. Our advisors help you with what can be a very confusing process. If your university is a partner with us, then the financial aid you receive for your tuition can be applied to your study abroad program with us. However, it’s best to first verify this with your financial aid office, as financial aid packages vary from school to school. You can also apply for various study abroad scholarships and grants through us or even through your school. Either way, it’s important to stay on top of any application requirements and deadlines. Talk to us about your financial needs and study abroad goals–we can provide some insight to your specific situation!


photo credit: Rocío Lara via photopin cc

3.  Fund Your Trip Through Crowdfunding, Fundraisers, or Charity Events      

Once you get the word out there that you are working towards studying abroad, you will be surprised to learn how much support you can get to fund your trip. Most experienced travellers recognize the value and importance of seeing the world, so will be more than happy to help a student in need of financial support. And with the recent rise of various crowdfunding sites, you are sure to find a campaign that fits your travel abroad pursuits. Check from a variety of platforms, here a solid list to start: FundMyTravel, GoFundMe, Indiegogo.com, Kickstarter, Plumfund and GoEnnounce.com.

In addition to crowdfunding you may also want to create your own event or public service to help raise money for your trip. Remember the lemonade stands you set up as a kid? Or the sweets, popcorn, or magazines you sold to fund your field trips? This is the same idea! Another option is to organize a donation based fundraiser with food and live music for your friends and family. Not only will you be spreading the word about your travel pursuits, but you will also be providing great food and entertainment, giving back to those who help you.

4.  Explore Various Travel Options and Book Your Flight Far in Advance

Our programs do not cover the cost of travel, so it is important to do all of the necessary research on flight options far in advance of your departure. To help you keep track of your expenses for your experience, we’ve put together budgets to help you plan. There are many options when it comes to international airlines, and sometimes the smaller, less common airline companies offer the cheapest flights.

With that said, it’s a good idea to book your flight far in advance with these smaller companies, as the flights are going to be less frequent than some of the major airlines. It’s always a good idea to book your flight far in advance even with the bigger airlines, which can sometimes offer some very affordable deals. Another way to save on international flights is to fly out of major international airports like JFK International Airport in New York, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and O’Hare in Chicago.

5.  Spend Your Money Abroad Wisely!

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, keep in mind that you’re on a tight student budget and can’t afford to spend your money frivolously. We all know that half of the fun of studying abroad is being away from home, and at times it can feel more like a vacation than an academic venture. But it’s important to remember what you are there for, so prioritize where you’ll spend more than usual (such as tickets to UNESCO World Heritage sites) and where you can pinch your pennies (such as limiting the times you eat out per month). There are countless ways to unwind and have fun without going to the club every night. Instead, explore what the country has to offer other than the tourist attractions. You want to blend in with the culture, rather than stand out like an “Ugly American”. This is ultimately going to save you money, as most of the money-making schemes in foreign countries are targeted at tourists. Do what you came to do when you set out to study abroad, and learn a culture different from your own by immersing yourself into it.   

Despite what you may have been told or originally thought, there are endless amounts of options available to make your study abroad dreams happen. Doing your research and being vocal with your friends, family, and advisors will help connect you to the resources you need. It may not be a simple, linear process, but when you’re enjoying a safari in your down time from classes in South Africa, it will all be well worth it.