Studying abroad certainly has its advantages: personal growth, improved language skills in some cases, and a wealth of unforgettable experiences. But never has paying for education been as expensive as it is today. Most international students end up bearing these costs out of their own pockets, so here are five tips to make those unforgettable experiences more affordable and help you get through studying abroad while keeping your debts to a minimum.
1. Seek out Scholarships for International Students
Many students miss out on this opportunity because they don’t know where to look, and every year, millions of scholarships are left unclaimed. So where can you find these hidden chunks of change, you ask? Scholarships of all sorts are available from universities themselves, non-profit organisations (including churches, trusts, and other interest groups), as well as all levels of government.
Some of them are even reserved just for international students. Yes, it’s likely that you will have to fill out forms and write numerous essays, but every bit of free money counts. Talk to the guidance staff at your university and ask if they can point you in the right direction (many universities also list available scholarships on their website).
2. Look into other Scholarly Options
Co-op programs, also known as internships, as well as work-study programs are both excellent ways to get education and real world experience all in one go. They also provide the student with great networking opportunities. Co-ops are usually off-campus, include a stipend, and generally involve reputable companies or organisations. Work-studies are usually on-campus, provide more flexibility and are less strenuous. The latter is perfect for students with a heavy academic workload.
3. Join the Workforce
No one fancies working and going to school at the same time but any extra cash you can pick up, small though it may be, will help pay for your education expenses. It’s tempting to think it’s fine to pick up debt now because you’ll be earning enough to justify it later – but try to err on the side of caution and bear in mind the possibility that you may not find your dream job right away once you graduate. The job market is competitive, so part-time work during study can help not only with covering expenses but also provides you with the real-world experience all employers look for (giving you an edge over your purely academic companions when it comes to job interview time).
Your university career centre generally has postings through affiliated businesses, most of which have established connections with the university. The majority of them are retail shops or small businesses that welcome student applicants. If you’re lucky, some of these jobs also offer perks like discounts on food, rent, or mobile phone plans.
4. Live on Cash and Learn to Budget
Having cash is great, but it won’t go far if you don’t learn how to manage it and make it work for you. This is as good a time as any to get a head start on understanding what goes in and out of your pocket.
Avoid credit cards as much as possible. Also, only take out student finance loans as a last resort. Keep in mind that credit purchases and loans will need to be paid back, and often with interest. It takes discipline to spend only for what you need and to be prudent about managing your money, but in the end, you will be glad you did.
5. Be Smart About Choosing a Money Transfer Service
It used to be that banks were the only way you could transfer money from one country to another, but these days you also have a variety of international money transfer service options to choose from. If you need to receive funds regularly from family back home, you can make sure more of it ends up in your pocket if it’s being transferred via a low-fee service. How do you know which one to pick?
The biggest considerations for most students are the fees on transfers, speed of delivery of the funds, and the exchange rates being applied. Feel free to try out our exchange calculator to see how OrbitRemit measures up compared to the transfer service you’re using right now.