study abroad

How To Study Abroad When You’re on a Tight Budget

Even if you are broke.  
January 5, 2020
8 mins read

Going abroad is seen as one of the most life changing experiences a student can have. It is highly encouraged by professors, alumni and even employers. It is known to enhance one’s time at college as well as future career opportunities whether or not you are traveling to work, study or intern overseas. Students are able to challenge themselves in different environments and learn about new cultures.

That being said, studying abroad is not always as accessible to some as it is to others. For most college students, it is common to forgo traveling abroad simply due to its cost.

While some colleges and universities provide financial aid and helpful resources from their on-campus global learning office, the expenses of attending a host university can quickly add up. The weight of airfare, tuition, housing, meals, visas and more can seem daunting, especially to someone who has little to no previous travel experience.

Yet, there are several ways to realistically acquire funding for a study abroad trip, some of which are more discussed and recommended than others. Keep reading to find out some of the best ways to get funding for your future venture.

1. Work, Work, Work

The most obvious way to gain money is through a full or part-time job. Getting a job is one of the best ways to guarantee funding for a trip abroad, especially since students are able to work according to their own schedule. Not to mention it is incredibly impressive to save for an entire trip without the help of your parents, although parental guidance should also be encouraged depending on the circumstances.

Maybe there are other obligations you might have that require more immediate attention such as tuition, bills or car payments. In that case, planning and saving are highly recommended, which is easier said than done.

One popular way to save money is establishing a budget. Be sure to include everything that contributes to your own spending habits such as groceries, bills, etc. Doing so will help eliminate unnecessary expenses and also enable better spending habits. Another saving strategy is to make automatic payments into a savings account that is not so easily accessible. This can be done through the human resources office at your job and through your personal bank. It helps to limit the amount of control one has over a particular amount of funds. One more method for saving money is to challenge yourself. Everyone loves a healthy challenge, and what better way to motivate yourself than to create a challenge that encourages productivity? There are many challenges available online for various times and goal amounts.

2. Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships and grants are a hit or miss situation. They are different than loans in the sense that they are sums of money meant to support a student’s education, awarded on the basis of academic merit or other achievement.

The reality is scholarships and grants are not guaranteed because they can be very competitive. Most will require a personal statement essay explaining why studying abroad is important; however, the important concept to keep in mind is that there will be dozens of other students applying for the chance to fund their trip as well.

But this does not mean acquiring an award is impossible.

There are millions of scholarships and grants dedicated to college students, even those who are impacted by circumstances like hair color or height. Yes, it is unusual. That does not mean one cannot use it to their benefit. The chances are half and half whether or not you will be selected to receive funding. Some popular search engines for study abroad scholarships and grants are FastWeb,, Unigo, GoAbroad and National Association of International Educators.

Students can also talk about scholarship options at their home university just in case there are opportunities right on campus. Popular national scholarships students can apply to this upcoming year are the Pell Match Scholarship Program, Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, Boren Scholarships and Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund.

3. Selling Items

Parting with some of your most valuable possessions can be difficult, so it is not recommended to sell everything and anything in order to study abroad. This is something that can be done to slowly accumulate more funds, but it must be done within reason.

Even if a college student is not studying abroad, it is very common to sell some items to earn some extra cash to use as pocket change. Some of the items students can sell are clothing, shoes, jewelry, makeup or old technology. While there are many online sites available to sell such items, it might be worthwhile to check out some local consignment stores or thrift shops that are willing to exchange old goods for currency. A couple notable chain shops are Buffalo Exchange and Plato’s Closet.

Also, there is another strange yet helpful way to gain some extra money. Many people do not know they can sell plasma in exchange for money. The amount varies depending on the location as well as amount of plasma extracted, but it ranges from $20 to $50. Students can do a good deed by selling their plasma to someone in need and make some cash at the same time.

4. Juggling Many, Many Side Hustles

Studying abroad or not, the hectic life of a college student demands one or more side hustles. There are often times when work study or part-time jobs simply do not cut it, and the expenses are leveling high up to the ceiling. A not-so-quick way to alleviate some of the uncertainties is to offer a service.

Plus, how cool would it be to add entrepreneurship to a resume?

Depending on your skills, there are tons of services a student can perform such as hair, makeup, custom art, tutoring, babysitting and even tour guide experiences. It may require some work to get a side business up and running, but the reward is greater in the grand scheme of it all. Not only will students be able to travel abroad, they will have a hobby and side hustle to come back to after traveling overseas.

The study abroad experience will also help you become accustomed to living on a tight budget, resulting in good financial habits — something essential if you want to make money on the side. When your income grows, keep emphasizing saving or paying down loans, and not wasting money. You may even borrow money online from GM Creditz to start your side hustle.

5. Crowdfunding

The final method to acquiring funding for a study abroad trip is crowdfunding, the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the internet.

Crowdfunding may look easy, but it requires a lot of research to avoid scams as well as external fees. One recommended way to get the most out of a crowdfunding experience is to write letters to friends and family to ask for donations. Another way is to crowdfund online, where unknown supporters can donate to a campaign vouching for your study abroad experience.

Some known crowdfunding sites are FundMyTravel, GoFundMe and IndieGogo.

Students can take different approaches to fund a study abroad trip, or even combine these methods to make the most of saving up. An important thing to remember is studying abroad is possible for everyone, and asking for help is never a weak or bad thing to do. As college students, it is understandable to juggle so many responsibilities that going out of the country may be off of the table. Hopefully, this guide demonstrates that studying abroad can be accessible to everyone.

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