Skip to content

Budgeting & Saving

It is never too early to start planning financially for your study abroad experience!  Once you have found the program that is right for you, start saving your money right away!

Students will need to develop a budget for expenses (e.g. personal travel, souvenirs) that are not included in the program costs as well as a plan to pay their program costs and other expenses. Each student's budget will vary based on their travel goals and resources. To help students begin this process, the Center for International Education assists all students in completing a Budget Planning Worksheet as part of the mandatory orientation program. You do not need to wait for orientation, however.  Use it at any stage of choosing a program.  We encourage students to review this budget sheet with parents, especially if they are expecting parents to contribute financially to their study abroad experience. Parents are also welcome to use the worksheet as a planning tool with their student.

Practical Approaches

Past students have found that through careful budgeting, they are often able to save much more money than they initially thought possible. One of the keys is to have a savings account specifically for your study abroad program. Some suggestions for getting money into that account:
  • Set a monthly saving goal and stick to it: Cut back to one or two lattes/week, rather than having one daily.  Skip that late-night pizza, concert in the Cities, or spring break trip!  Then consciously put that money you are not spending into your study abroad account. Since you are typically applying for study abroad 6-8 months in advance, even if you can save $50-$100/month, it will add up.
  • Request money specifically for study abroad: Swap out birthday/holiday gifts for cash to put in your savings account
  • Ask for a loan, rather than a gift, and set a repayment schedule in writing: Sometimes relatives may be willing to support you temporarily if you ask for a loan rather than an outright gift.  However, you do need to approach it “professionally”, with a concrete plan to paying them back, and a reasonable timeline for doing so.
  • Get a job (if you don't already have one)
  • Hold events/sales: Organize a garage sale. Have a talent? Offer to teach someone how to do that talent (i.e. piano lessons, guitar lessons, yoga, etc.

Find Like Minded Organizations

Contact organizations that may have an interest in what you are doing.  Offer them a service in return for their support. Keep in mind:
  •  If you select a study abroad program that helps achieve your long-term goals, it will be easier to solicit funds from external sources. Think about possible organizations on the local, state and national levels.
  •  Direct, informal appeals often work best. Be specific on how you intend to spend the funds, (airfare, program fee, tuition, housing, special projects, etc.)  Avoid a focus on extra personal travel that you are hoping to fit in; your appeal will be stronger if you focus on the actual required expenses.
  • Include a photo of yourself with your request so that the receiver will establish a personal connection with you. Enthusiasm, creativity, and perseverance on your part - and not fearing rejection– could take you a long way.
  • Types of Organizations to Contact:
    • Heritage groups that have interests in specific countries
    • Civis groups (Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions Club, etc.)
    • Travel agencies
    • Professional and business clubs
    • Media (radio, newspapers, TV)
    • Sororities and fraternities (local and national chapters)
    • Charitable, ethnic, religious and campus organizations
  • Possible services to offer in return:
    • Write an article or blog
    • Give a presentation about experiences when you return
    • Create a website
    • Organize a community forum
    • Participate in radio/TV interviews
    • Contribute community service and outreach
    • Help others to have a similar international experience