By Matthew Mclean
For many students, studying abroad can be a life-changing experience. It provides students with the best opportunities to advance their careers as well as the chance to broaden their horizons, enhance their prospects for the future, and engage in fascinating cultural interactions.
However, it is also an expensive venture, with tuition fees, accommodation costs, and living expenses all adding up quickly. Managing finances while studying abroad is crucial to ensure a stress-free experience and avoid running out of money.
Indian students are opting to study abroad in huge numbers. According to a UK immigration survey, Indian students have surpassed Chinese students as the highest international student population in the nation. In the US, the number of Indian students has more than doubled, and according to the Open Doors Report, in 2022–2023, the number of Indian students entering the US will likely surpass that of Chinese students.
It is important to note here that a financially sound plan begins even before a student gets admitted to a college abroad. A viable plan in this regard is one that works for both pre-admission and post-admission scenarios.
Also Read: Best University or Right Course? Calculating the return on investment of education abroad
Budgeting: Creating a budget is a critical first step in managing finances while studying abroad. When creating your budget, a student must factor in any differences in the cost of living in the host country compared to the home country. Creating a budget that is realistic and yet flexible enough to accommodate some minor monetary hiccups after arriving in the host country is crucial to ensure that you cover all your expenses without overspending.
Cost of living: Before departing to your host country, research the cost of living to understand how much money you will need. Look into expenses such as accommodation, food, transportation, and leisure activities. Knowing the average cost of living will help you create a more accurate budget and avoid unexpected expenses.
Scholarships and grants: Studying abroad can be expensive, and scholarships and grants can be a great way to offset costs. Check with your host country, host university, or local organisations for scholarship and grant opportunities. Some scholarships are specifically for international students, so be sure to research and apply for as many as possible.
Emergency Fund: Unexpected expenses can arise at any time, so it is essential to plan for emergencies. Keep a portion of your savings in a separate emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses such as medical bills or travel delays.
Part-time Work: Working part-time can be a great way to earn extra money while studying abroad. However, it is important to check the regulations for international students working in your host country. A majority of the popular countries catering to international students usually impose a cap of 20 hours of paid work per week, with full-time employment allowed during term breaks.
Students Credit Card: A student credit card can be a convenient way to manage finances. Look for credit cards that offer low fees and rewards for student purchases. Be sure to pay off your balance on time each month to avoid high interest rates and penalties. Using a credit card responsibly can also help you establish a credit history in your host country, which may be beneficial if you plan to stay in the country after graduation.
Student Discounts: Many businesses and organisations offer discounts to students with a valid student ID. Be sure to take advantage of these discounts whenever possible to save money on food, entertainment, and transportation. Look into discount cards specifically for students in your host country, as well as any benefits your host university offers.
Self-cooked Meals: Eating out at restaurants and cafes can quickly add up in terms of expenses. Instead, consider cooking your own meals. Many host universities offer communal kitchens or shared spaces where you can cook and socialize with other students.
Checking Account with Fee Waivers: Opening a savings account can be costly for a student in many countries as such accounts require maintaining a minimum amount. A basic Checking account is a better option as in a majority of countries, banks offer fee waivers for these accounts to students.
Although managing finances while studying abroad requires careful planning and budgeting, it doesn’t have to be a roadblock to fulfilling one’s dreams. Studying abroad is a journey that may start from scratch and requires learning and unlearning. Planning finances early in life teaches one to live within one’s means and the strategic value of fiscal resources while not compromising on the objectives of life.
(Author is Co-Founder, and CEO of Halp. co.)