Budgeting For Your Program

Study Abroad Spotlight

Alexandria Hartwell, a fourth-year managerial economics major, studied abroad on the UC Davis Summer Abroad France, "Fashion Marketing in Paris" program.

The way to get the most out of your study abroad experience is to plan carefully, and this is especially important with your finances. Use the sample information and fill-in tables below to determine program costs and your assets so that you are clear on exactly how much your program will cost and how you will cover these costs. Then follow the spending tips to insure that you do not go over your budget while you are abroad. You are encouraged to compare this budget to the estimated cost of attendance at UC Davis.

I. Determine Your Costs

The following is a sample program budget for a four-week summer program: 

Sample Budget (for a four-week Summer Abroad program)

Fees paid to provider

$5407.00

Included (for this example):

☒ Tuition/Fees _____All___________

☒ Housing _______All____________

☐ Meals ___only 2 group meals_____

☒ Excursions _____All_____________

☒ Other _____metro pass__________

Costs paid by me directly (estimated)

$0

 Housing  __included in Fees________

$1000.00

 Meals  ______nearly all___________

$700.00

 Incidentals/ Books / Etc.

$1400.00

 Roundtrip Airfare to site

$400.00 

 Other __personal side trip_________

Total Estimated Costs

$8,907.00

Please keep in mind:

  • This is an example for a four-week summer program and costs vary widely depending on the location of the program, its length, accommodations, etc.
  • The costs paid by you directly are estimated amounts, which are generally based on averages spent by previous participants.  Costs will vary depending on your individual spending habits, changes in exchange rates, etc. 
  • Estimates provided by programs typically do not include side-trips that students take independently of the program, and may not include such costs as souvenirs, phones, money for doctor's visits, etc. 
  • Be sure to consider your own spending habits and the amount of personal travel you plan to do, and adjust your budget accordingly.

Now print out the blank fee schedule below and create your own budget. 

When you consult the fee schedule for your specific program it is especially important to identify which costs are covered by program fees and which are not.

My Study Abroad Costs

Fees paid to provider

Included:

☐ Tuition/Fees __________________

☐ Housing _____________________

☐ Meals _______________________

☐ Excursions ___________________

☐ Other _______________________

Costs paid by me directly (estimated)

 

 Housing  ______________________

 Meals  ________________________

 Incidentals/ Books / Etc.

 Roundtrip Airfare to site

 

 Other ________________________

Total Estimated Costs

II. Determine Your Resources

The next step in planning for your time abroad is to determine how you will pay for the program costs. Below is a list of possible sources for funding. Fill in the amounts for each category. Be realistic about the amounts and be sure to confirm amounts with the Financial Aid Office if applicable.  

My Assets for Study Abroad

Sources

Amounts

Scholarships

Financial Aid (including student loans)

Savings

Work

Other sources ___________________________

Total Funds Available

Of course the final step is to check that your total for Funds Available is equal to your total  for Estimated Costs.

If the numbers do not add up, you may want to visit the Financial Aid Office to explore the possibility of increasing your financial aid and/or do further research on the many scholarships and travel awards that are available specifically for study abroad programs.

III. Tips for Staying Within Your Budget While Abroad

  • Be conscious of your spending. Ask yourself in every case if you really need what you are about to purchase.
  • Learn some shorthand tricks to converting the foreign currency into U.S. dollar equivalents so you aren't fooled into believing you are spending less than in fact you are.
  • Set yourself a weekly budget and stick to it (making sure that it will last you for all the weeks you have left, of course).
  • Find out how and where the locals shop for food and other essentials. You will usually save a small fortune compared with buying at the tourist trap shops and restaurants. It will also build upon your experience of the host country's culture. If the locals bargain when making their purchases, be sure you do too.
  • Keep an eye out for student discounts and try wherever you can to use your student ID card for reduced prices (especially effective for airfare, museums, attractions, and some accommodations). Research beforehand if the ISIC card is useful in the country you will be going to or if you need local student IDs to get student discounts.
  • Many universities abroad don’t expect students to purchase their books. They may assign excerpts, supplemental readings, or give a reading list from a number of books.  In cases where specific longer readings are required, it’s likely that several copies of the book will be on reserve at the campus library. It is recommended that students take full advantage of the library and only purchase books when required (e.g. no/limited copies in the library, workbooks that can only be used once, etc.)
  • Limit the amount you bring to bars, clubs and pubs. You may have less luxurious nights out, but you will have more of them. If you bring 50 euro to a pub, you will find a way to spend it, whereas if you bring 15 euro (or another non-U.S. currency), you will only spend 15.
  • Save your souvenir buying until the end of your stay; you'll have a better idea of what a good memento is then and will know how much you can get away with spending and still make it home.
  • And, finally, ask the locals: where to eat, where to shop, where to go out, etc. They can save you the hassle and expense of figuring out for yourself where the cheapest places are.

Resource Acknowledgement: GlobalScholar