Here I am, terrified, 3 days away from my travel to an entirely new world (or so it seems to little old me). For most of my life, I’ve been rather stagnant – born in Houston, TX, moved a whopping two hours away to Austin, and remained there for college as well. For me, travel never was much of a reality due to my financial situation. However, upon deciding to make the financially responsible decision to stay in my hometown for college, I knew that studying abroad was an absolute necessity for me to balance that out. Yet, the question of how to afford it lingered heavy in my mind.
Thus began the journey of financing my study abroad in Paris. Mind you, I unfortunately fell in love with one of the most expensive travel abroad destinations in the world. Yet, I didn’t let that deter me.
In planning my study abroad journey, I’ve found places to scrimp and save along the way that will definitely cut down costs significantly for others who struggle financially. Let’s break this down.
Getting there: Flights
When in comes to finding the cheapest flight, I say check often and better. I highly suggest hoping on Kayak for your preliminary search to look at which days are cheaper at that time, and about what the average rates are. As a rule, typically looking about 45 days in advance is ideal. However, finding a cheap flight takes dedication, but the hunt is well worth it. As a rule of thumb, flighing out on a Tuesday is usually the cheapest option. Additionally, make sure you’re searching in incognito mode so that flight websites aren’t tracking your cookies and hiding the best prices to get you to buy.
There are many other tips and tricks to finding the best flights, so do some Googling. When it comes down to it, make sure you’re checking all the sites you can and anytime you can.
Sleeping abroad: Hotels, hostels and more!
If you’re traveling across the globe, you may as well consider doing a bit of internal traveling while you’re there. However, we all know how pricey hotels can get, especially if you’re travelling alone. When looking for places to stay, consult hostel websites for cheap single person accommodations, and AirBnB if you’re looking for a little more privacy at a higher price. Hotels are an option, but make sure you’re looking on booking websites that offer discounts like Expedia or Priceline to get the best rate.
Studying and staying: the real financial hitter
The program fee itself is what’s the real hitter. Luckily for us, a wealth of financial support is available if you put the time in. Start at your university – check with your Study Abroad representatives to find any local or university sponsored scholarships or grants. Additionally, look around for scholarships offered by academic departments and student organizations. You’d be surprised how many are out there. Next, look federally. If you qualify for the Pell Grant, you definitely should apply for the Gilman scholarship, and as soon as possible. Additionally, take the time to fill out your program providers scholarship application too – they’re very likely to give you some form of financial assistance. Any financial aid you get during the usual school year can likely be transferred over to cover your study abroad costs. Lastly, do some internet searching. While I’ve discussed the major moneybags, there are so many scholarships out there to try out for. You just have to look!
Worst comes to worst, loans are always an option. Most universities allow students to take out some amount of federal loans to cover the rest of their expenses. While we all want to avoid falling more and more into debt, you also have to consider the experience you’re getting out of it. The entirely unique and new perspective you gain from studying abroad will be well worth the loans you take out in the long run.
Going abroad is terrifying, and the price tag certainly doesn’t help. At the end of the day, think about the entirely unique and wonderful memories you will make. Don’t look at the estimated price listed on the website as a certainty: approach it more as a challenge. With some time and dedication, you can make your study abroad dreams come true at a fraction of the cost.
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<p>Maya Haws-Shaddock is a rising junior, majoring in Advertising, minoring in French, Business and Digital Arts & Media. Having been raised in Austin, she holds a deep-rooted love for local live music, funky aesthetics, and unnecessary winter clothes she’ll never get to wear. While not staring into the endless void of Adobe Masterworks, Maya spends her time working in a variety of student organizations, drinking overpriced chai, making the most of the local live music, or digging through racks of questionably clean clothing at her local thrift stores.</p>