The thought of studying abroad has always been in the back of your mind, but you don’t think that you can ever afford to go. And this is where I tell you that you are wrong. Financing is the factor that holds most prospective international students back from living their dream, but in all actuality, spending a semester abroad costs the equivalent of a semester at home. Once you have picked your jaw off the floor and stopped rolling your eyes in disbelief, check out these figures:
Now let’s look at this a little more closely. We’ll use my home undergraduate university as an example. The tuition and student fees I paid as an in-state student was $3,700.00 per semester. Standard housing tacks on another $3,425.00 (per semester), and the average meal plan costs about $2,195.00 (per semester). These three fees add up to a whopping $9,320 (and that is not even including textbooks). How do you pay for this extraordinary fees? Most students finance college with a mix of financial aid, personal loans, scholarships, and personal funds.
Now let’s look at a university in England. International student fees are much higher than home fees. At the University of East Anglia, the fee for a full year is £12,300 (about $19900). On campus standard accommodation costs £76.93 per week (about $124), and there are no meal plans offered. This means that the university requires £16,300 (about $26,348 per year). So how can you afford to study abroad with all of these absurd costs?
Most US programs have partnerships with locations abroad, cutting the cost of tuition and fees, and sometimes arranging housing. For example, my home university (a SUNY school) has arranged for students to pay home tuition fees rather than the international student tuition cost. And since you will not be on campus for the semester, home universities normally reduce student fees as well (cutting the cost of the tuition and fees from $3,700 to $3,120). So instead of a $19,900 international student tuition fee, you are looking at a reduced home student fee of about $3,200. Factor in housing and the elimination of exorbitant meal plan cost, and you are looking at the total cost of studying abroad for one semester being a measly $5,928.
Even once the additional trip costs are added onto the bill the cost of studying abroad ends up being surprisingly inexpensive. Not having a meal plan saves big bucks. I spent about $50 every two weeks on groceries (as opposed to the $135 every week my home campus had me paying for the cheapest meal plan offered). Health insurance, a necessity while traveling, is free as long as your company covers international trips. MedEx, a required service that covers emergency security and political evacuations, is $30, and though the program fee varies, it is usually about $500. Airfare will be the second most expensive fee for your study abroad experience, averaging at about $900 for round trip tickets (at least to London). After adding up all the stray numbers, you are looking at an entire semester studying in a foreign country for only $8,000. No, I am not joking.
And financial aid may still be applied to study abroad programs. Personal loans may still be taken out. Scholarship opportunities actually increase because you are now a valid applicant for international awards. And don’t forget the power of family and friend fundraising through sites like GoFundMe and IndieGoGo.
So next time you think “Oh, I can’t afford to study abroad” try again. You can afford it. The average home tuition fee is between $10,000 and $30,000. With the partnerships between international and American universities, studying abroad can end up costing the same, or sometimes even less, than a semester at home due to reduced student fees and the opportunity to buy your own groceries. So no more excuses. Go fill out those applications and start planning your trip. You won’t regret it.