Finances and Travel: How Do You Do It? Tips & Tricks to Afford Study Abroad

By Jessica Jacobs

Let’s be realistic: Majority of students are not rich. So how can students achieve their dreams of traveling the world and living the life of an Instagram influencer? It might seem impossible to accumulate the funds, but it’s in your ability. Here is what you need to know about the finances in the application and overseas phase of your study abroad journey.

Application Phase: Know your resources!

  1. FAFSA - Need-based aid granted to students

  2. Federal loans - Subsidized and unsubsidized

    • Subsidized - Government pays interest while enrolled in school

    • Unsubsidized - Interest builds for post-graduate payment

  3. Scholarships - Free money funded by applied program

    • Where can you find them?

      • Government scholarships offered in the designated country

      • Financial aid office on campus

      • Visit your advisor for opportunities

      • Online scholarships

  4. Fundraise through online crowdfunding sites

    • e.g. GoFundMe and

  5. Start saving!

Overseas Phase: Budget mindfully!

  1. Analyze the cost of living and manage your spending habits.

  2. Interact with locals. Ask for advice on where to shop and how to spend.

  3. Stick to a budget! Set a limit to your spending to keep you on track and assure that you’ll never run out of money while away from home.

If that’s not enough support you need to travel abroad, here is perspective and advice from Sophia Soliman, a CSULB political science student currently studying at one of the most expensive destinations abroad, London, England.

Photo by Sophia Soliman

Photo by Sophia Soliman

Q: How did you financially prepare before your departure to England?

Soliman: Before leaving, I had to get my finances in order. This includes getting a credit card with no foreign transaction fees, arranging with my family as to how I’ll pay my taxes, and transferring money into the local currency. Besides that, I saved for a year before going abroad.

Q: How do you budget while you are abroad?

Soliman: I’m fortunate enough to have been granted a few scholarships in conjunction to the funds I already saved. My budgeting while abroad is to live minimally, particularly when it comes to groceries, clothing, and souvenirs. My goal is to spend more on experiences like different attractions or traditional English meals.

Photo by Sophia Soliman

Photo by Sophia Soliman

Q: What is your advice on how to budget?

Soliman: Save as much as you can beforehand and apply to as many scholarships as possible. I see many other students abroad who are reluctant to try new foods, take the train to a city, or do certain attractions because of the cost. There’s so much to discover and while it’s cheaper, the study abroad experience is not nearly the same if you stay at your college or in your dorm room the entire time. It can definitely get expensive but if you apply for scholarships, save money prior, and manage your finances well, I think it’s possible for anyone.

Q: Do you think you’re getting bang for your buck? How so?

Soliman: I think that the benefits of studying abroad outweigh the costs, very literally speaking. This is a once in a lifetime experience. Despite the strain that studying abroad places on my personal finances, it’s worth it to me experience life in another country and to have a moment to step back from my regular life. I’m able to reflect on myself, my goals, my career pathways and my relationships while integrating with a new country. To me, this is a priceless experience and one that I will never be able to replicate.

Photo by Sophia Soliman

Photo by Sophia Soliman

Don’t wait to apply! It’s easy to say you’ll try next year or the year after, but we all know that procrastination won’t get you anywhere. College goes by as quick as Thanos’ snap and you don’t want the opportunity of studying abroad to turn to dust. For further information, consult a study abroad advisor and research financial opportunities on the CSULB website. Carpe Diem.

How much does each destination cost?

According to statistics from

Europe: $15,797 per semester

Asia: $8,886 per semester

Australia: $22, 596 per semester

Costa Rica: 9,567 per semester

Morocco: $19,230