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The basics
THE USA: Student Finances

Paying for university abroad: The basics

Studying abroad can be expensive: international student tuition fees, accommodation, visa processing etc. Here are a couple of financial options you might not have considered...

How to fund your studies abroad

Because we can’t all have an unlimited personal bank account, most international students will require some sort of assistance when it comes to paying for college. This help can come in numerous forms, including these below...


Can your family help you?

Many international students are financially supported by their parents or family members. They might cover everything (how lucky!) or just tuition fees, which leaves the student to take responsibility of all other costs. If you’re lucky to come from an affluent family who can afford to support your studies abroad, then great! But if not, don’t worry too much; your dreams aren’t over yet! It may still be viable for your family to finance your studies overseas; they might just need some forewarning that you want to study abroad in order to plan ahead and budget for this – tell them as soon as you have decided that you want to do this, ideally a year or two in advance though it will depend on your family’s financial situation. However you’ll have to show them that you’re serious about studying abroad and that you’ll make the most of the opportunity.

Parents don’t want you to study abroad? Read our guide to convincing your parents to let you study abroad.


What about your government?

We recommend researching financial aid which your country’s government offer to students who wish to study abroad. Governments want their students to go abroad to acquire skills and knowledge to bring back home to contribute to the economy (especially if they are a developing country without the same quality of higher education opportunities). Plus international student exchange allows countries to establish working relationships with one another. Do some simple searches online using Google.


Or even your study destination’s government?

Similarly, if you have a study destination in mind, do some research about the funding their government offers to bring international students to their shores. Governments appreciate that international students contribute to their economy in a number of ways; just think of all the money international students spend on public transport and in shops and restaurants while studying abroad for 3-4 years! Plus if students come to that country to study, it makes the country appear as a world-leading hub for higher education. Again, Google and other search engines are your friend to learn about recent success stories where international students have had their studies paid for by their destination’s government.

Learn more about the Fulbright Programme which aims to attract students to the US from around world.


What scholarships does your chosen university offer?

Once you’ve successfully been accepted by a university, you should enquire about scholarships and bursaries available which you may be eligible for. These can be based on your previous academic record, potential for the future or even simply where you come from. They can also be tied to a particular course, subject area or department at that institution. Similar to above, universities want to be seen providing opportunities to student from abroad as it makes them appear like a desirable place to study and it’s excellent for press.

Search for a scholarship abroad now


Do you even need to pay tuition fees?

You may be surprised to learn that you don’t need to pay tuition fees, which can drastically reduce your study abroad costs. For instance in Sweden, tuition costs don’t apply to students from other EEA or EU countries; this is quite common for the distinction between EU/EEA and other international students to result in benefits for those in the first category. Make sure you look out for such opportunities which you simply don’t know about but can benefit you greatly.


Are you already working?

If you are already employed but you’re pursuing study abroad to benefit your performance at that company, you can speak to your manager to find out if they can finance all or part of your studies abroad (however this can be a bit of a long shot). This will depend on several factors such as how long you’ve been with the company, your position within the organisation etc. You can suggest to your company that this is a great opportunity for you to bring important skills back with you and improve the company’s prospects using these. You may have to sign an agreement to ensure you remain with them for a certain amount of time after you’ve completed your studies.


And if all else fails, make your own destiny

It might sound impossible at first but you can even attempt to finance your studies abroad with some daring and creative crowd-funding activities. Many students have created viral videos and websites to attract attention and source the funds to study abroad....though you need a hook and to really demonstrate your passion to study abroad. Take inspiration from Kickstarter and such crowd-sourcing sites.

Check out one aspiring study abroad student’s video:

Alternatively, you can simply save your money through part-time and summer jobs. You might not be able source all the money you need for tuition fees and living costs through this; however if you just need to make some money to cover the extras, earning and saving money yourself builds character and looks excellent to an admissions officer.

Take a look at our guide to last-minute ways to make money before leaving to study abroad.

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