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Study Abroad Without Breaking the Bank

Spending a semester (or longer) studying outside the country is an enriching, life-changing experience. It’s also really expensive. How can you make the trip without destroying your financial future?

Who Studies Abroad and Where Do They Go?

283,332 U.S. students who studied abroad for academic credit during the 2011-12 academic year (1)

That’s just 1% of all college and university students in the U.S. (1)

By race or ethnicity

Percentage of U.S. students studying abroad in 2011-12:  (1)

  • African-American: 5.3%
  • Asian/Pacific Islander: 7.7%
  • Caucasian: 76.4%
  • Hispanic: 7.6%
  • Multiracial: 2.5%
  • American Indian/Alaska Native: 0.5%

By destination

Percentage of U.S. students studying abroad in 2011-12:  (1)

  • Africa: 4.5%
  • Asia: 12.4%
  • Europe: 53.3%
  • Latin America: 15.8%
  • Middle East: 2.5%
  • North America: 0.6%
  • Oceania: 4.5%
  • Multiple regions: 6.4%

The Benefits of Studying Abroad

Students reporting boosts from studying abroad:  (2)

  • Maturity: 97%
  • Self-confidence: 96%
  • Impact on world view: 95%
  • Continuing influence on family life: 73%
  • Influence on interaction with people from different cultures: 94%
  • Encouragement to explore other cultures: 64%
  • Influence on subsequent educational experiences: 87%
  • Influence on decision to attend graduate school: 64%

Nearly half  of those who’ve studied abroad engaged in international work or volunteerism after their studies were over. (2)

Tips for Staying on Budget

$17,785 Average per-semester cost for studying abroad during 2012-13 school year (3)

$11,000 Average tuition cost per semester for out-of-state student at public university (4)

Costs to consider:

  • Travel to new country
  • Travel from airport to campus
  • Housing
  • Food
  • Lost wages
  • Immunizations
  • International health insurance
  • Local transportation
  • Currency conversion rates
  • International banking fees
  • Passport/visa fees
  • International calling cards

Tips for making the experience affordable:  (5)

  • Apply for study abroad scholarships
  • Consider a shorter course (perhaps a term rather than a full semester)
  • Pursue international work or internships
  • Enroll directly in a foreign university
  • Pursue cheap housing and make your own meals
  • Consider less well-traveled destinations


  1. https://www.nafsa.org
  2. http://www.iesabroad.org
  3. http://www.foxbusiness.com
  4. http://trends.collegeboard.org
  5. http://www.iie.org

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