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

7 Travel Tips to Make Your Money Last While Living Abroad

While you certainly shouldn’t expect to save money while abroad, even if you’re going to a place with a lower cost of living, it is possible to live more affordably. When budgeting your living expenses abroad, you will want to weigh different activities differently.  Think about which activities are likely to leave a greater impression on you and stick with you well after the fact.

For example, it might be worth cooking in instead of going out to eat for an entire week so you can take a weekend trip out of town. In that case, your eating expenses can make room for your traveling expenses. Or, instead of treating yourself to fancy Italian shoes at a department store, you could buy a bunch of local clothing from a market. You are giving more weight to sentimentality than fashion in that case.

study abroad in Barcelona cooking class

Take a cooking class while abroad to learn how to use local ingredients to prepare tasty creations!

Also, keep in mind that you are probably most likely to travel the most at the beginning and end of your program. The beginning gives you your bearings and lets you visit neat places outside of your new home town. Once you’ve settled in, chances are you’ll enjoy getting to know your new location, meeting the locals, and focusing on your studies or internship, so you might be able to spend less on travel in the middle. Then, as your program is wrapping up, chances are you’ll either play host/hostess to friends or family, or you’ll want to make the most of being a quick bus ride or flight away from some amazing destinations. So, you’ll definitely want to save a good bit for the end to go out with a bang.

Regardless of how tight your budget is, you could always use more money to fund your fun. Here are some tips on how you can make your money last:

1. Cook for yourself. Buying your own groceries and cooking for yourself will save you loads of money! While it’s nice to go out to eat and experience the local flavors, don’t make it the exception rather than the norm for your daily food intake.

Study abroad in Italy on a budget

If you stick to a reasonable food budget, when you treat yourself you’ll enjoy it even more!

2. Eat at local places. When you do go out to eat,you’ll get more culture and better value from a locally-rooted restaurant than a big national or international chain. Also, some restaurants raise prices for tourists. Picking restaurants that do not have tourists eating at them will most likely be less expensive and probably have more interesting and tasty food.

3. Share and make food last for more than one meal. If you are eating out you can save money by ordering one entrée and a side salad and sharing it with a friend. You can also eat a bigger lunch which tends to be less expensive and a smaller dinner. And you can only eat half of your food and eat it for dinner or lunch the next day.

4. Use public transportation or walk. Taxi rides are not easy on the wallet! Choosing to take the bus or metro when it’s possible and safe will save you money. You see more of the places by walking and are more immersed in the culture by taking public transportation. Plus, there’s just something satisfying about properly navigating your own way around. And there’s no shame in asking when you’re not sure! Chances are you’ll get an answer and potentially a friend from the interaction.

Study abroad in Italy group meal

Be sure to check your bill for included service/gratuity, especially when with a large group!

5. Don’t over tip. Research the area where you will be living or traveling to in order to understand local customs. In many places a 10% tip is sufficient because waiters get a higher base pay rate. In some places, taxi drivers don’t expect any tip. However, you also need to observe local norms to determine new tipping situations you might not expect. One such example is tipping the person that bags your groceries. Even if it’s usually a minimal amount, if you see locals doing it, you should too.

6. Make a budget. As mentioned above, you might weigh different activities differently. You’ll find you can save on some essentials to be able to spend more liberally on the fun stuff. Account for your daily expenses and plan to save enough for weekend trips and other miscellaneous things.

7. Have or find reserves. You certainly don’t want to find yourself short on cash when studying or interning abroad, so you should also be sure to have a backup plan in the case funds start running low. That may mean you account for some reserve funds in your loan, borrow from family or friends, or maybe ask for “advance” birthday and holiday gifts. A few photos from your weekend adventure would make your financial supporters happy with their investment 😉

Finally, you can potentially ignore all the advice above if you plan in advance. CISabroad offers detailed budget sheets for each program, factoring in all the essentials and also leaving room for miscellaneous and personal expenses. You can also solicit funding from friends, family, co-workers, classmates, community organizations, etc. at www.FundMyTravel.com. Here you’ll be able to create a campaign with a goal amount and ask for contributions to support your future travels.

Do you have any budget advice for traveling abroad? Or, do you have any questions about how to best prepare financially for your time overseas? Leave a comment below!