Be aware of all program costs. A program with a low fee might look appealing, so see what's included and excluded.
After researching and choosing a program, find out its true total cost. Learn which expenses and services are included in the program fee and which come out of your pocket.
- Instruction fees or tuition
- Domestic travel
- Lodging and meals
- Other costs
Instruction fees or tuition
Instruction fees are usually part of the program fee.
Airfare is often included in program fees. But do not to feel pressured to pay thousands of dollars more for a program just because airfare is included.
You might be able to find lower fares on your own. One place for low student airfares is StudentUniverse.com.
Students often underestimate the cost of travel in the host country — expenses include commuting and sightseeing. These are generally out-of-pocket expenses.
- Consider buying a used bicycle in your host country.
- Are discounted prepaid mass transit (bus, subway) passes available?
- Investigate student rail passes before leaving for your destination. (They often need to be purchased outside the host country.)
- In some countries, domestic air travel can be very expensive. Remember this if you plan to fly in-country.
Lodging and meals
Determine if the program fee includes lodging and meal costs. Be sure to budget extra money for meals outside the prepaid dining plan. Whether you live with a group or on your own may also affect your meal costs.
Find out if your housing has cooking facilities. Shopping at local grocery stores and cooking your own food can help reduce your expenses.
Investigate other expenses:
- Utilities: Are electricity, water, heating, and other utilities included in your program fee?
- Security deposit: Not all programs require a security deposit. If your program does, be prepared to pay as much as a month and a half's rent.
- Planned and unplanned excursions: Unplanned excursions often arise — visits to sporting events, museums, historical sites, and local nightlife. Budget for these opportunities.
- Laundry: Laundry costs can add up quickly. Consider hand washing to save money.
- Personal care: Budget for toiletry items.
- Passport and visa: A new passport runs about $140 plus fees for execution. Visit travel.stats.gov to find out the most current passport fees. Visa fees vary and could include the cost of immunizations if the county you’re going to requires them.
- Health insurance: Medical insurance coverage is essential. Ask your study abroad program about insurance.
- Books: In some countries, books are more expensive than in the U.S. Check if textbooks are included in your academic costs. Also, invest in an excellent language dictionary.
- Hidden costs: Prepare for many unplanned expenses, including taxes, money exchange fees, and wire transfers.
- College fees: Your school back in the U.S. may have service charges for helping you make study abroad arrangements. For example, your school may charge you for transferring credits, printing transcripts, remaining enrolled at the school, special mailings, and registration fees. Ask your school and your study abroad program about these fees.
See our page on keeping connected where we discuss:
- Should you bring your laptop, tablet, or smartphone?
- Is it more cost-effective to buy these items in your host country?
- Will you get Internet access through your new school?
If you bring a computer and printer from the U.S., see what kind of electrical outlets they have in your new country. You will likely need a converter and a voltage adapter so that your equipment can plug in and not burn out.
Investigate these and other technology issues before you leave.