Budgeting for Study Abroad
Money needed for daily expenses while abroad will vary greatly by location and individual spending habits.
To help you to be financially prepared, we recommend you review the following before studying abroad:
- Budget Calculator Figure out how much you will need for your study abroad.
- ISEP Scholarships Some member institutions offer scholarships to students.
- Financial Aid Most financial aid can be applied to our programs.
Tips on Creating A Study Abroad Budget
To draft a budget for your stay, research the costs of routine items in your host country in your Institutional Information Sheet (IIS) and the cost of living in trusted online sources and in guidebooks. Then use our budget calculator to enter in all your expected costs.
Financial Tips For Your Arrival
- You should have the equivalent of US$100 in your host currency on hand at the time of departure.
- Make sure you establish a checking account tied to an ATM/Debit card and grants you access in case of an emergency need of funds.
- Most banks will charge the user an ATM transaction fee plus a foreign transaction fee between one to three percent for all withdrawals made while abroad so shop around for the lowest rate.
- Even considering the burden of fees, withdrawing money from an ATM will still be more affordable than exchanging cash in most cases as banks and exchange bureaus charge hefty fees of their own and do not always offer the most advantageous exchange rate of the day as ATM transactions generally do.
- It may also be beneficial to have a credit card in case of an emergency or if you plan on making multiple point-of-sale purchases. The same fee structure applies to most credit cards but there is an additional layer of protection should your card information be copied or stolen.
- Be certain that you are aware of your card’s banking network and that you know to use an ATM that offers services on that network (Cirrus and Star are the most common).
- You should contact your bank and credit card companies prior to departure to inform them of the primary destination and duration of stay while abroad. This will help avoid unnecessary holds on your account for security purposes.
Setting Up A Bank Account In Your Host Country
In some instances it may make sense or it may be required for you to set up a bank account in your host country. This is especially true if you will be receiving regular deposits from your host institution for housing or meal stipends or if you will be receiving pay in your host currency for internships or campus work. Your host ISEP Coordinator can provide local bank information.
Budgeting & Financial Resources
- To track current exchange rates use sites such as XE Live Exchange Rates.
- While abroad, we recommend using money manager platforms like Mint to help manage expenses and plan savings for trips.
- Traveler’s Cheques are no longer recommended as they have been replaced to a large extent by the more widespread use of credit and debit cards.
Note: The mention of third-party vendors is solely suggestive, and not an endorsement. ISEP is not associated or in partnership with any of these vendors.