6 Ways to Finance a Semester Abroad

Do you dream of strolling the River Seine or walking the Great Wall of China? With a little creativity, you can make your dream a reality.

Don Milne Sep 18, 2018

Article originally published on September 18, 2018 and refreshed on March 18, 2021.

Ask a group of college students, who would like to do a semester abroad studying, and nearly all will raise their hands.  Dreams of visiting Westminster Abbey, strolling along the River Seine, or hiking along the Great Wall of China would be the highlight of any study abroad program.

However, ask the same group if they know how to finance it and most of their hands would go down. So much for that dream trip abroad. The thought of having to go into debt to pay for such a trip can be deal breaker.

Luckily, there are ways to finance such trips that are debt free.

So just how do you finance a semester of studying outside the United States?

Finance Tip 1: Ask family members for help

The easiest way to travel debt free is to have a relative with financial means to pay for it. Not everyone has the proverbial rich uncle or independently wealthy grandparents, but some students do. If you are lucky enough to have this kind of family connection, your rich relative might be happy to underwrite your trip, especially if she or he has travelled to the country where you will be studying.

Finance Tip 2: Research scholarship opportunities

Many scholarships can be applied toward semester abroad programs, but the trick is to begin your scholarship search early, not when selecting the seat assignment for your flight. In fact, for students that qualify for Pell Grants, the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program provides grants to students of limited financial means to study abroad.

Finance Tip 3: Consider less expensive cities

Study programs in London or Paris are very popular, but large European cities are expensive. It is easier to afford a semester abroad if you pick a country with lower living costs.

Finance Tip 4: Get a job abroad

Yes, there can be limitations to working locally in a foreign country, but there is no limit to working remotely while abroad. Students with tutoring skills can work anywhere there is an internet connection. With tutor skills in the right subjects, it is possible to make much more than minimum wage.

Finance Tip 5: Fundraise through your social network

Networking is an important life skill, so this is a good way to practice while helping offset the educational costs. Many relatives and acquaintances are happy to help a young person do something worthwhile if it is a small dollar donation. These small dollars can add up.

Finance Tip 6: Organize a community yard sale

Seek out items from friends and neighbors to donate to your cause. Some people can’t fit a dollar donation toward your cause in their budget, but they may have some unused items lying about that they would be happy to declutter with you getting the proceeds by selling it.

Of course, all these suggestions are easier said than done, but study abroad is not out of reach of most enterprising students.

If you’re ready to start planning for study abroad, Zions Bank can be a financial resource on your international journey with our complete suite of banking products for students.

Zions Bank can also assist with foreign currency needs. You can order foreign currency banknotes for around 80 currencies at any branch location and you’ll typically receive your order in one to three business days. For the most popular foreign currencies, several branches offer an on-the-spot exchange*.

Bon voyage!

*Currencies immediately available include: European Union Euro, United Kingdom Pound Sterling, Mexico Peso. Some currencies may take more time, and shipping and handling costs may apply. Maximum transaction amounts may apply. Other restrictions may apply.

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