Here's How To Study Abroad Without Burning a Hole In Your Budget

How To Approach the Foreign University Application Process

Written by: Steve Paul

Living abroad and travelling, getting an international degree, experiencing a new culture, making friends with people from all around the globe, becoming more confident and independent, are all some of the influential factors that drive students to study abroad.

84% of study abroad alumni felt their studies overseas helped them build valuable skills for the job market and adapt to diverse work environments.

While these experiences are priceless, they do come with a price tag. But don’t let costs deter you from enjoying the experience.

“If you don't step forward, you'll always be in the same place.”

What this article will cover?

Choosing a destination that interests you, selecting a program that aligns with your educational pursuits, job prospects and most importantly, exploring opportunities that are within your budget, are factors to consider when you plan to study overseas.

Unless you have a scholarship, studying abroad for free isn’t realistic. As you read, you will come across tips on how to live and study abroad on a budget and still have a great time.

#1: Finding Affordable Destinations

For students seeking refuge from high-priced U.S. colleges and universities, Europe remains a well-known, highly sought-after destination.

When it comes to studying abroad, tuition fees can be daunting but many countries offer free or low-cost tuition to international students and programs of study entirely in English.


  • Germany needs skilled employees, and this reality creates a win-win situation for students.

  • Known for its world-class education, almost all study programmes at public universities in Germany are tuition-free.

  • Top study destinations, Munich and Berlin were ranked within the top 30 most affordable cities to study.


  • France is another country with low tuition fees. When compared to US or Australian universities, tuition fees at most of the public universities in France is very less.

Nordic Countries

  • Norway: Like Germany, university study is free of charge to all students, regardless of study level or nationality.

  • Iceland: There are no tuition fees charged at four public universities.

  • Denmark, Sweden, Finland: Doctoral programs in these countries are fully funded plus they come with a stipend.

Other European Countries

  • Austria, Belgium, Greece, Italy & Spain are few countries where education at public universities is a lot cheaper.

Countries Outside Europe

  • Public universities in Brazil, Mexico have virtually free tuition.

  • Tuition fees in Argentina, and Taiwan offer great value.

  • Private universities might be expensive, but living costs in some of these countries is very appealing to students.

Even if a country offers low or zero tuition fees, you will still need to pay registration fees or nominal semester fees. Countries might offer courses in English, but in some cases, you might need to learn the local language as a prerequisite.

Always check the university for your specific subject, country and world ranking. Here's a reliable source- QS World University Ranking 2020

#2: Selecting The Right Program

In most countries, undergraduate programs are of 4 years and postgraduate masters of 2 years, but many UK universities (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) and the Republic of Ireland offer 3-years undergraduate and 1-year master’s program.

We all know that tuition fees and living costs are the major expenses while studying abroad, but if you opt for these countries you can save a lot on your tuition fees and living costs because you end up being a student for a shorter duration.

The three-year degree is generally considered comparable to a four-year degree in the US in terms of depth of study, as three-year courses specialise in the subject of the degree from day one.

Universities abroad also have full time and part-time courses which allows you to work while completing your studies. Most of the research-based PhD programs worldwide are fully funded with a stipend.

Russell Group Universities in the UK (Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester) are well known worldwide for their quality of education and research studies.

#3: Applying For All Scholarships

There is a wide range of scholarships that cover up to 100%, 50% and 25% of your tuition fees. For students with excellent academic records, some scholarships cover both tuition fees and living expenses.

But, academics aren’t the only criteria. A well written Scholarship Statement, Letter of Recommendations and Work Experience also increase your chances of getting a decent scholarship. You can Explore Scholarships here.

Broadly, these are the different types of scholarships:

University Scholarship

  • Every university website has all the details regarding available scholarships.

Country-Specific Scholarship

  • Every state and country have many open scholarships for students. There are scholarships reserved for Asian and African students.

Other Organisations

  • Ratan Tata Trust, Aga Khan Foundation, Rotary Foundation Global Scholarships and many more scholarships are available for students.

When it comes to finding scholarships or getting financial aid, exploring and applying is the key. Since many scholarships are available to offer holders, it is advisable to start your application process one year in advance to avoid missing deadlines.

#4: Looking For Application Fee Waivers

When you plan to apply at multiple universities, it could cost you a lot, since there is an application fee for most of the universities ranging from 20 USD to 100 USD.

Many European Universities and especially UK universities don’t have application fees. Also, some universities have a special Application fee waiver option for a specific category of students.

Also, if you apply through certain study abroad agencies, they have tie-ups with specific universities and you get an application fee waiver.

#5: Exploring Accommodations

Other than tuition fees, accommodation is another area where you might end up spending a lot of your money.

Campus living can be expensive, so many students prefer to opt for off campus sharing accommodation. If you study in an expensive city, this could easily save you 300 to 400 USD per month.

Some universities publish on their website, the collaborations they have with organisations and offer to live with host families (retired people). This is a voluntary approach and considered by many students who are on a tight budget.

#6: Working Part-Time

Most universities allow you to work 20 hours per week and up to 40 hours per week during vacations. Money earned by working part-time is sufficient in most cases to provide for your rent and living expenses.

Working on campus at university, serving as waiters and bar staff, retail staff, warehouse staff, call centre phone operators, data entry staff, language teachers, etc. are common jobs student opt for.

Some jobs can add an entirely new dimension to your student life, but always consider the workload before you take on a part-time job.

#7: Other Student Benefits

Make the most of your Student Card. They can be used for travel discounts, at supermarkets, leisure and fun activities, etc.

If you plan to purchase a laptop, other than the usual discounts, there are special deals for students. Dell offers Student Advantage Plan, Apple has special 100 USD discounts for students- you get the gist.

In reality, your study abroad expenses can vary greatly, depending on the destination and program. All it takes is some forward-thinking, a dash of organizational skills, and a readiness to consider every dollar spent.

Budget and keep track of your expenses while you’re abroad and you'll be well on your way to coordinating an affordable study abroad experience.

Remember: “Every penny saved is every penny earned.”

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