Getting ahead: Budgeting for studying abroad

student studying abroad in guatamala

If your budget doesn't leave you feeling like you could spend the money to study abroad, you may be feeling the blues. Our best advice is to start planning something awesome for next year. Yes, you’ll still have to suffer through everybody’s vacay snaps, but all it’ll take is a little budgeting and some planning to start exploring the world.

Want to travel AND earn class credit?

Studying abroad is a great way to see the world and experience new cultures while staying on track toward your degree (and you can post lots of pics of all the fun you're having). Nine months is the ideal time frame to plan your study abroad program, so if you’re planning for next spring break or even spring semester, you have more than enough time to cover everything. A lot of the planning time you need depends on what you want to do while you’re abroad — take courses in your major or minor, hit your general education courses or take elective courses. You can even find an internship abroad. Make sure you’re having conversations with the Study Abroad Office and your academic advisor along the way, and once you have a program or two you’re strongly considering, meet with an international coordinator in the Study Abroad Office.

Check out the amazing time these ASU students were having while earning credits!

What can you do now?

What about money?

This is the big question for everybody. Our advice is to plan early and save as much as you can. You can also apply for scholarships. There are a ton of scholarships out there and ASU has a tool to help you find them from sources nationwide. There are even four scholarships offered by ASU’s Study Abroad Office.  

Take a look at each program’s cost sheet in the program brochure online (some scholarships ask for this info, so it’s great to have on hand). You can also search for programs filtered by the comparative cost to ASU tuition using this tool.



Budgeting is crazy important here — there is no average cost, and every person and program is different. You’re in charge of making sure your budget will cover you, your program and anything else you plan to do while abroad. Consider costs in the country you’ll be studying in, for example a week in London will cost more than the average week in the Dominican Republic, so plan accordingly.

Depending on where you’ll be studying, you may want to plan weekend trips to other surrounding cities or countries. Make sub-budgets for those experiences; you won’t want to miss out on extra travel once you’re there.

Student tip: Research free things to do in the place you’ll be studying. Many cities offer free walking tours, and some even offer free days at museums, and free concerts or other experiences. 

Can I use my financial aid?

You can, but it varies in exactly how much of your trip is covered. Look at the cost sheet again. Some items are listed as billable and some as non-billable. The non-billable items help you estimate your costs, and if you receive financial aid, your cost of attendance will automatically be reassessed when you apply for a program for more aid based on that cost sheet.

The Study Abroad Office has a great list of budgeting resources to use. They also run a Financing Your Study Abroad workshop, in-person every other Monday at the Memorial Union or online every other Thursday.

For both of my semesters abroad, I was able to use my New American University scholarship exactly as I do when I'm in Tempe. A lot of people don't know that most ASU scholarships and financial aid can be used on study abroad programs through ASU for semester-long programs. There's also a ridiculous amount of scholarships specifically for study abroad offered through ASU and external scholarships you can apply for based on your major, program, and other factors.” - Alex S. (Barcelona, spring 2017)

Studying abroad is an amazing and often life-changing experience. The earlier you start planning, the more time you have to start saving, budgeting and applying for scholarships. Use a day (or more) of your spring break to start thinking about what you want for next spring.

Want an inside look at a study abroad experience during a spring break program? Follow ASU Study Abroad on Instagram! There will be a takeover happening in Costa Rica soon (hint: sloths might be involved).You can also follow ASU Study Abroad on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat at @ASUStudyAbroad.

More questions? Contact studyabroad@asu.edu.


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