Key Takeaways 🔑
Choosing to study abroad during high school is a monumental decision which has put you on the path to a life-changing experience. However, one of the biggest hurdles many people encounter is funding the summer, semester, or year overseas. Going abroad can be expensive, but there are some genuine techniques to stay within a budget.
Read on for simple tips and tricks on choosing budget-friendly destinations, finding funding, and making the most out of your time abroad in a budget-conscious way.
Note: Taking your study abroad hopes from simply an idea to a reality is going to take some careful planning. We recommend beginning financial planning for your trip as early as possible.
Apply for study abroad scholarships
You may be surprised to hear that organizations and program providers offer scholarships to students interested in studying abroad. Finding scholarships that you qualify for can be a bit tricky, so start by asking your school’s guidance office if there are any scholarships affiliated with the school. Organizations, like local Rotary Clubs, are also great places to search for funding. Finally, if you're studying abroad through a third-party program provider, ask what scholarship options they offer, as many provide need-based funding to help more people access their programs. After all that, it’s time to scour the internet and apply for every scholarship you think you might qualify for.
To make the search easier, we have a running list of high school abroad scholarships and grants right here at Go Overseas.
Another option you may not have considered is to fundraise for your study abroad program. Websites like GoFundMe allow you to make a public appeal for financial help, which you can post on your social media accounts to let your friends and family know what you're raising money for. You can also always stick to the classic methods like hosting an event or a bake sale. If you can create something that people will pay money for, there’s no reason you can’t use that money for that fun semester.
Here are 40 ideas for fundraising to help inspire you.
Find a family or friend living abroad
While this tip isn't possible for most people, it is something to keep in mind if it's relevant to your circumstances. If you have family or close friends that live abroad, consider studying in the city they reside in. Having an on the ground contact will help you get adjusted and may even help with your budget if you can eat dinner with them from time to time. Best case scenario -- they even let you stay with them!
Score a cheap flight
One large expense that is nearly unavoidable when studying overseas is the cost of airfare, but there are tools that can help! If you anticipate booking your flight online, consider student-oriented websites such as StudentUniverse and use a flight tracker like Skyscanner or the Hopper app to follow and compare prices. Remember always to consider the cost of baggage when comparing flight costs, as every airline's policies are different.
Attend a public school
The cost of your program will vary widely based on the school you choose to study at. Remember, you’re not looking to get your degree from this school – the point is to have a culturally immersive experience, which doesn't require an expensive private school (and the associated tuition).
Take advantage of free events
While you should absolutely take advantage of your time overseas and immerse yourself in the local culture, try to do it in a budget-conscious way. Many countries offer students free or deeply discounted experiential learning activities like concerts and museums. Your program provider or school should be able to help you find these, but never be afraid to ask around once you're there, either!
Eat at home
Enjoying local cuisine is a popular way of feeling connected to a city or culture, but you don't have to eat at fancy restaurants to have that experience. Explore the aisles of the supermarket and stock up on ingredients you can't find elsewhere. Try your luck at creating local dishes and suggest a potluck with your new friends. Another bonus is that you'll retain these recipes and can cook them for your friends and family back home!
Looking for more budgeting tips? Read our guide on how to budget for study abroad
Sign up for a homestay
A homestay is the best way for you to get immersed in the culture and save some bucks. Many organizations offer a homestay as part of their program, and these homestays often include all (or almost all) meals. With a homestay, you’ll have someone to help you practice your language, a roof over your head, and food on your plate -- you won’t even have to learn to cook for yourself if you don’t want to! Just make sure you know the do's and don't of a homestay abroad.
Now go out there and do it!
No matter what strategies you choose to build and manage your budget, it’s essential to keep in mind why you’re doing it -- to have a rewarding experience studying abroad while in high school. Of course, it’s always easier to embark on a new adventure with extra funds in your pocket, but there’s something particularly satisfying about successfully managing your own finances and making one of your goals a reality. Additionally, you'll gain an entirely separate lesson in managing your own money.
The next step is to just get out there and start saving!