5 Ways to Study Abroad Even if You Think You Can’t Afford It
You may have always dreamed about studying abroad in London, Paris, or Madrid, but the reality is that European capitals have the highest cost of living in the world. It makes sense: They’re desirable places to live, and there are lots of job opportunities for highly paid skilled employees.
But you don’t have to decide to study in Accra or Bangkok to have a decently priced study abroad experience. Here are five ways to have a great study abroad experience for a fraction of the price.
1. Study outside of Western Europe or at least out of major cities.
Studying abroad in non-traditional locations is great, but you don’t have to leave Europe to have a reasonably priced experience.
In fact, you may spend just as much on safe accommodations and necessities like clean water in some of the so-called bargain destinations. Another solution is to study outside of the capital city, where rents, tuition, and the price of basic necessities is likely to be much lower.
If you study in Rouen, about an hour outside of Paris by train, you’ll pay an average of €350 per month in rent for a studio apartment, as opposed to €850 per month in Paris—more than twice as much. And a train ticket into Paris is less than €20, so you can visit as often as you like.
Lots of European countries—and even some non-European ones—now have English programs for kids as young as elementary school, and they hire native English speakers to teach classes for all ages.
A great way to get abroad for a short period of time is to get a job with one of these programs, which will ensure you’re able to work, and then take classes on the side.
Most teaching programs are part-time and therefore flexible enough for you to take university classes outside of your teaching obligations. And while you may not be able to get a job if you’re traveling on a student visa depending on the country, you’ll probably be able to take classes while you’re on a temporary work visa.
3. Study a lesser-known language and get scholarships.
Everyone and their brother wants to study French or Spanish, but the problem is that there are hardly any scholarships for these super-popular foreign languages. And if you want to go to an English-speaking country, you’ll have to be ambitious enough to land a Rhodes or Marshall fellowship if you want someone to pay for your trip.
But if you want to study Arabic, Mandarin, Turkish, or Punjabi, you’re in luck, because both the U.S. government and foreign embassies offer dozens of scholarships to students who are learning or who want to learn these “critical languages.” If you’re in reasonably good academic standing at your university and you’ve studied an “easier” foreign language like Spanish before with some success, you may be eligible to apply for a scholarship from the U.S. Department of State or a non-government entity.
Check with your university to see if you qualify.
4. Enroll directly in a foreign university.
When you study abroad with an American program, you’re usually required to pay American tuition in the tens of thousands of dollars to your home university for very little in return.
And while some of that money goes to pay the program’s administrative costs, none of it goes to the foreign university where you take classes.
If you think you’re independent enough to sort out your visa and your classwork by yourself and in a foreign language, use this guide to study abroad for undergraduate or graduate school by enrolling directly in a foreign university for a fraction of the cost. Tuition in most European schools is in the hundreds, not thousands, of euros. In 2010 and 2011, I paid €437 for a year of tuition and health insurance at the Université de Paris 7 – Denis Diderot and at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, one of the prestigious “grandes écoles.” This will leave you to pay just your basic living expenses.
5. Go to a school that is eligible for FAFSA.
It’s a myth that only U.S. based universities are eligible for federal financial aid, and some of the most prestigious schools worldwide qualify. Go to the FAFSA website, and under “Find School Code,” enter the school year and “Foreign Country” in the “State” box, and click search. You’ll get a list of almost 500 schools outside the U.S. for which you can use federal financial aid and claim tuition tax credits.
If you decide to do a graduate degree at one of these eligible schools, you can also use your enrollment to defer your student loans.