Your Study Abroad Resource to Find Answers, Funding, and Programs


Calcuting Living Expenses

Cost of Living cost of living image Cost of living varies from country to country, with currency fluctuations, and according to your personal budget. You are probably used to a certain standard and cost of living in the United States, and you probably budget your income in order to maintain (or better) the standard and costs to which you have become accustomed. You can calculate the difference in cost of living between the United States and the country of your choice by using an on–line international cost of living converter. Enter the U.S. city in which you live and your current salary. Then, enter the city in the country of your choice where you will study. The converter calculates how much you will need to earn in order to live in the country of your choice as you do in the United States. This rough estimate can provide you with a goal amount of money you will need to raise/save before going abroad: International Cost of Living Salary Converter
Exchange Rates exchange rates image Some students create an entire, detailed budget and financial plan for their time abroad only to discover that exchange rates fluctuate and economies can be unstable. The value of the currency of the country of your choice against the U.S. Dollar can fluctuate significantly and can greatly affect a student's personal budget/financial plan. A solid budget/financial plan worked out months before leaving for the country of your choice just may not work at the time of departure. From the time you first created your budget/financial plan for the country of your choice, exchange rates may have changed. To avoid a problem with your budget, consider making your financial plan flexible. Include a high and low total spending amount to account for any possible fluctuations in currency value. Also, make sure to keep up to date on the financial situation of the country you will study in by constantly checking the exchange rate. Please see "Exchange Rates" in the Resources section of this handbook for links to currency converters.
Lifestyle lifestyles image For some students, studying in the country of their choice may involve changes in lifestyle. Consider what your lifestyle at home consists of (eating out, going out, trips, shopping, etc.) and consider if you need to maintain this lifestyle abroad or what aspects you are willing to leave 'stateside.' Budgeting your money to maintain a certainly lifestyle doesn't have to be boring or difficult. You can think of easy ways to help yourself remember how much you are spending. Often, foreign currency can seem like "fake" money. It can be difficult to know how much you're spending. This is especially true if you get in the habit of using your credit card for most purchases. A helpful way to convert foreign currency into U.S. dollars is to carry a small pocket calculator with you. You could also learn a few monetary equivalents and tell yourself: "For every the currency of the country of your choice I spend, I'm really spending so many dollars."

Below is a printable budget to help you start planning your study abroad finances.

Budget for Study Abroad form


  1. I have used a cost-of-living calculator to help me figure out the difference in cost between living at home and living in the U.S.
  2. I know whether the cost of living where I will be studying in the U.S. is higher, lower or the same as the cost of living at home.
  3. I have begun the process of budgeting my income and/or saving money to provide for the costs of living in the U.S..
  4. I have a small pocket calculator to carry with me in order to do currency conversions.
  5. I understand what my purchases are worth; both their monetary value and their time value (how long it takes me to work for them).
  6. I have created a simple budget book/ledger with categories that will help me better keep track of my spending.
  7. I know roughly how much my study in the U.S. experience will cost.
  8. I can comfortably afford to attend the university I have chosen.
  9. My family and I think that the university I have chosen, and the experience of studying in the U.S., is worth its cost.
  10. I have thoroughly researched and contacted groups, foundations and organizations that may be able to help me financially.


  1. Study Abroad Parent Guide Financial Information: Financial information geared towards parents, but useful for students as well.
  2. Go to Course 1, Module 2, Task 6: "Money Management" about how to save and spend money while overseas.
  3. – Budgeting: Mentors address how to create and follow a budget as well as giving tips for budgeting overseas.
  4. – How to Pay: Mentors answer questions about how to pay for a study abroad experience.
  5. – Study Abroad Scholarships: Scholarships, grants, and fellowships for general study abroad, diverse students, and for non–traditional countries.
  6. Fast Web: This service provides a free customized list of financial aid sources including private sector scholarships, fellowships, grants, and loans.
  7. Go to Course 1, Module 1, Task 5: "Funding Your Study Abroad Program" for useful information about saving and how to research financial aid.
  8. Directory of various financial aid programs and websites for study abroad.
  9. Study Abroad Student Guide: Information about financial aid programs for students studying abroad.
  10. The Financial Aid: Page links to scholarship searches and comprehensive listing of financial aid information.
  11. The Student Guide: Department of Education publishes a guide each year on the eligibility requirements on various federal aid programs.
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