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Finance 101: Paying for Your Study Abroad Trip to the U.S.

studyabroadThe prospect of studying overseas in the United States is certainly an exciting one for international students — but it’s also daunting. There’s a lot to figure out and take care of before you hop on the plane to America. One of the biggest items on that list is finances: You must set up a budget — and figure out where your money will come from — before you can make any other concrete plans. Read on for a few tips about what to budget for and how to ensure financial security during your study abroad trip to the U.S.


It’s a good idea to first research the average cost of living in the areas where you’re considering going to school. The numbers can vary widely from state to state and city to city; the cost of living in, say, Ohio or Indiana is going to be far less than in New York or California. You might even find such a wide variance that it affects your decision about which school to attend.

Be practical and honest with yourself about how much you can truly afford; if your dream school is located in a particularly expensive city, you might have to accept that it’s out of your reach, and adjust your plan — and your dream — accordingly.


Once you’ve figured out the average cost of living in your adopted city, it’s time to start breaking down your individual expenses. Make a list of every possible thing you’ll have to pay for during your time in the U.S. It should look something like this:

You should also leave a little room in your budget for any unexpected expenses. You never know what might come up during your time abroad, and having a little cash to prepare for those contingencies — both good and bad — will surely come in handy.


Once you’ve outlined your budget, your next task is to start figuring out where the money to cover all those expenses is going to come from. It’s crucial to start researching financial aid and scholarships early; it becomes far more difficult to obtain financial help from your chosen university after your arrival, so try to take care of these agenda items as soon as possible. There are often numerous scholarship options available for international students, so work with your school’s international student affairs office to find out where and how to apply.

Studying abroad is one of the best things you can do as a part of your overall college experience: You’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in an entirely new culture and community while still pursuing your academic goals. But before you ever leave your hometown, you must figure out how to finance your trip. The above steps will help lead you in the right direction so that you can make your overseas study dreams a reality.

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