How much does it cost to study abroad?

The lure of studying abroad has been on the rise with more than 350,000 students who chose to move abroad to study in the year 2018-2019 alone. And why not? After all, moving to a new city or a county and starting fresh on your own is perhaps one of the biggest adventures one gets to experience. 

Based on a recent survey on how much it costs to study abroad, the overall cost depends mainly on what country you are studying in as that will determine standard tuition fees and living costs.

On average, a semester-long study in a foreign country usually ends up costing between $7,000 to $15,000. So, if you are one of the many students considering moving abroad to study, it’s best to start planning early, conduct in-depth research, weigh all your options and find a program that best meets your individual needs and fits your budget.

Stay here to learn the answer to the question that has been nagging at you – how much does it cost to study abroad?

Direct enrolment vs. third-party provider

When calculating how much it costs to study abroad, one of the critical decisions to make is whether to opt for direct enrollment or to go through a third-party provider.

Direct enrollment is where you take care of all aspects of studying abroad yourself. From researching the plethora of course options available, weighing all of the pros and cons, and downloading and filling out the application forms to transitioning into your new university – all of these factors are taken care of by you alone without the assistance of a middleman. 

While this usually results in lower costs, it places a lot of responsibility and a lot of ground to cover on your end.

However, direct enrollment can also take the form of faculty-led or exchange study-abroad programs through your university. In this case, your university handles everything involved in the registration for the study abroad program. You are just responsible for either paying home tuition fees or a specific fee for entry into a particular program.

Third-party providers, on the other hand, involve middlemen who take the responsibility of arranging everything for you in your journey to studying abroad in exchange for a minimal fee. 

While this option can seem a bit expensive to some, by going through third-party providers, you are assisted with everything from visa fees and applications, flight arrangements, study arrangements, housing, and even books and insurance.

So, if you are planning to move abroad to study, one of the first things you should consider is the route you will take. Try weighing the pros and cons of direct enrollment versus using a third-party provider and choose the route that best meets your requirements and budget.

How much does it cost to study abroad – four factors to consider

1. Tuition fees

One of the most crucial aspects in determining the cost of studying abroad is your tuition. Your tuition fee will largely depend on the country you move to and the nature or type of program that you have enrolled in. For instance, the tuition fee of a finishing school (college) is comparatively less than that of a university. 

While some countries, especially those in the European Union, tend to be cheaper while still providing a great public education system, other countries like the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and even Australia may end up costing you a lot more.

2. Housing costs

The second factor to consider when determining how much it will cost you to study abroad is the cost of housing in your new location. You may be happy with something basic, but even that will cost money.

Many alumni who have studied abroad claim that the cost of living, food and entertainment can mount up to a formidable expense. One way to overcome this alarmingly high cost is by looking into colleges and universities with homestay or dormitories with meal options. 

These kinds of study abroad programs already have the cost of living and food included in their program fees and can help relieve some of the strain on students who are considering enrolling in study abroad programs.

If living in a dormitory is not an option, you will probably have to arrive at your host destination before classes start and search for a place to live that is both affordable and close to your college or university. You may also want to consider visiting local supermarkets and calculating a food budget that is within your budget.

3. Transportation costs

The third important expense that you should take into consideration is the cost of traveling and transportation. While many host countries now offer programs that include the cost of flying to your host country, it’s wise to double-check if your study-abroad location offers such incentives. 

As part of your research for calculating how much it will cost to study abroad, look into the financial break-up of your overall program fees ahead of time to get a clear understanding of what it does and doesn’t cover.

Aside from the cost of flying to your study abroad destination, you will also have to consider the cost involved in commuting daily and the availability of public transportation. While calculating these costs, remember that seeing and getting acquainted with your host country is important but they will require you to spend more on transportation. 

4. Local support

While it is true that the key purpose of your travel is to study abroad, as a human and a social creature, you will likely want to get acquainted with the nearby grocery stores, entertainment, support groups, and even pharmacies and hospitals that are open 24/7. 

The best way to do so is to find spots that are close to the housing you have rented or your homestay. This way, you not only get to enjoy the perks of living a normal routine but also benefit from saving on the cost of commuting to these necessities as well.

Other financial considerations that you should look into include:

  • Your passport and visa costs
  • A good quality suitcase
  • The airfare (both to the host country and back home)
  • Clothing and medical supplies
  • Weekly groceries and eating out
  • Transport
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Books and study materials
  • Incidentals and emergencies
  • Entertainment, holidays, gifts
  • Saving (you may want to try to save a little or at least not eat into all your savings)
Library in Portugal
Library in Portugal

Tips for making studying abroad cheaper

Typically, the cost of the program you choose to enter is going to be your biggest expense when studying abroad.

It’s wise to explore different countries, cities, and areas and look for cheaper study abroad programs that could help save money upfront. While doing so, also check if the program you wish to enrol in allows you to transfer credits back to your home country. 

By opting for transferable credits, you can complete the remainder of the program back home in case of an emergency or if the expenses end up being more than anticipated.

Here are a few tips for making your study abroad experience cheaper: 

  • Many prospective students don’t realize it, but when you enrol in a study-abroad-program it can significantly impact the total cost involved. For instance, opting to enrol in shorter program (like over the summer) is sometimes more affordable than for a whole year. Additionally, since the duration of a summer program is comparatively shorter than a full-year program, you’ll not only be saving on tuition, but you’ll also save on housing, food, and commuting while still enjoying the experience of studying in a foreign country.
  • A significant chunk of your budget goes into food when studying abroad, irrespective of what country you choose to study in. To save money on food, it’s worth cooking some meals from home. Of course, part of the excitement and thrill of going to a foreign country is trying local cuisine, but rather than overindulging in it, you could limit it to just weekends. It’s likely your housing and accommodation will have a kitchen along with basic kitchen utensils, so why not capitalise on it by cooking at home sometimes? Simply visit the local grocery store once a week and practice batch cooking so that you can save up money.
  • Consider getting a roommate or a flatmate. By sharing your living quarters with someone, you can divide all the living expenses, thus making a significant impact on the overall costs involved in studying abroad. Being in a new country by yourself can also be a bit lonely, and having a roommate can help fill that void and allow you to adjust to the new environment more easily. Contact your study abroad school’s administrative office or check out the online notice boards for potential roommates. You can also try social media sites to help narrow down your search and find the right person.
  • A part time job can also help you help make your trip more sustainable. From waiting tables to babysitting or even walking dogs, many easy-to-find jobs can be done in your own time. While these may not seem like the most glamorous jobs, it certainly helps your bank balance and it might allow you to stay in your host country for longer. Be sure to first verify the local laws of working while studying abroad since these laws tend to differ from country to country.

Best countries to study abroad in 2023

The idea of going abroad to study is exciting, and according to a recent survey, the ten most widely preferred destinations for study abroad programs in 2023 include:

  1. Switzerland
  2. Germany
  3. Canada
  4. United States of America
  5. Sweden
  6. Japan
  7. Australia
  8. United Kingdom
  9. France
  10. Denmark

Gone are the days when opting to study abroad was nothing more than a dream. Today, with proper planning and knowledge of the ins and outs of studying abroad, you can give your dream a go.

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