Guide to Studying Abroad

Last updated: 1 August, 2017

There are countless advantages to studying abroad including:

  • Personal growth and development

  • Improved problem solving skills

  • Cultivating a new international network of exceptional people

  • Cultural immersion and jaw-dropping new experiences

  • Improved foreign language skills

 

If you’re ready to embark on a new adventure overseas, check out our top tips to make your semester abroad a success.


In this guide you will discover:

study abroad

How Much Does Studying Overseas Cost?

There are a wide variety of opportunities for students who want to study overseas. Because of the number of opportunities, there is also a significant range when it comes to cost. Some schools offer tuition-free education, but require the student to support themselves during the program. Others might have tuition but offer a place to stay nearby the school for less than rent would cost in the same area. Some programs will have travel, equipment or lab costs associated that don’t apply to other programs, those will need to be calculated as well in order to determine the actual cost of the overseas program.


While looking at overseas programs the following information could prove very helpful in determining total cost:


  • How much is tuition?

  • Is housing available for students or are students expected to find nearby housing and pay rent?

  • Are there transportation costs associated with attending classes?

  • Does the school or country have additional requirements regarding things like health insurance?

  • How much are materials for the program? Books, art supplies or equipment costs can really add up.

  • In order to get a student visa, does the student need to prove they have enough funds to live in the country for the duration of their student visa?

  • What is the cost of living in the country and region where the program takes place? How much money needs to be available for things like food, and entertainment?


study abroad

Are There Scholarships Available for Studying Overseas?

There are several types of scholarships available that can be used of overseas schooling. In some cases, students can apply current, on-campus financial aid to a temporary semester overseas where they continue their studies. Some scholarships are available for students as well, and can be used for course costs, books, lodging or even travel. The types of scholarships to be aware of are as follows:

 

  1. Subject-specific - Scholarships that are awarded when a student studies a particular subject area or field of study.

  2. Destination grants or scholarships - Some countries offer awards for students as a way to entice them into coming and studying. They are often supported or funded by the government of that country and students will have the opportunity to apply their award to specific courses, conferences, or materials while they study at approved colleges and universities in the country.

  3. Student-specific - Scholarships are also available for applicants who qualify based on requirements like gender, race, religion, family history, medical history, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc. Other requirements may be part of these scholarships as well, like GPA or field of study.

  4. Merit-based - The most common type of scholarship is a merit-based scholarship. These are awarded based on student achievement and can cover areas from academic achievement to athletics.

  5. Program-specific - some study abroad programs offer financial aid, scholarships or grants for students applying to specific programs. There are a variety of qualifications for these awards and they vary between programs and institutions.


Scholarships often have very strict deadlines and a list of required submissions. They can require essays, volunteer involvement, GPA minimums, or proof a student has specific educational goals. Each scholarship is different, as are the way the scholarship can be applied and what the expectations are of the student. You’ll want to review the details before accepting any scholarship.

study abroad

Besides Scholarships, Are There Other Financial Aid Programs for Studying Overseas?

One key document that students can complete for study in the United States is the FAFSA - Federal Application for Student Aid. The FAFSA looks at income and then awards financial aid in the form of grants or loans to students. The FAFSA can be used to get funding to cover remaining costs of tuition and materials after scholarships and personal financing has been applied.


It is worth noting that some of the financial awards from FAFSA need to be paid back and will accumulate interest over time. Reading the details about each award will help a student make decisions about which money to accept. A student does not need to accept full loans from FAFSA. Grants from FAFSA do not have to be paid back.


Read here for more info on paying off a loan while studying abroad.

 

Do I Need a Student Visa to Study Abroad?

Many countries offer a specific visa meant to help students who are coming into the country to study. These student visas can cover the length of study, which is typically longer than a tourist visa. In some countries, student visas are issued in advance and need to be applied for well before the student plans to arrive in the country. In others, documents provided at customs are sufficient for the student visa to be issued.


In order to determine if a student visa is needed, refer to the official government website where the overseas college or university is located or consult an experienced admissions counselor at the university who can help navigate the rules within the country.

What do I need to know about studying abroad?

study abroad

Studying Abroad in the United States

There are several requirements for students who want to study abroad in the United States. The school must meet certain criteria and be part of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Schools in the U.S. cannot accept an international student unless they have been approved for entry into the country by the Department of Homeland Security.


There are also language requirements when it comes to studying in the United States. Most students will be asked to take a test that shows their level of English proficiency. The test must be approved and accepted at the university of choice.

Studying Abroad in Australia


The Australian government hosts an online portal for all international students applying for work within the country. Interested students simply create an account and can manage their visa application process online.


While a visitor visa is okay for any program three months or less, a student visa will be necessary for longer stays. Visa options that may apply to studying in Australia include: visitor visas, working holiday visas, student guardian visas and temporary graduate visas.


The best place to get information about Australian visa requirements is the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

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Studying Abroad in the United Kingdom

Rules in the U.K. depend on if the student is attending a university or a further education college. For most international students, it is more difficult to attend a further education college in the U.K. than a university.


For international U.K. university students, in addition to the application process for a visa, the government recently raised the amount a student must have in savings before being admitted for study in the country. All students have to show they can support themselves for nine months or the full length of their course, whichever is shorter. Under recent changes, students at some publicly funded colleges are not allowed to work part-time. They also have strict rules on academic progression and a minimum salary requirement for some types of visas.


For international students attending further education colleges, rules have recently changed in the U.K. in regards to graduating students staying in the country, making it harder for graduating students by eliminating post-study work visas for students in further education colleges and eliminating the ability for students to work part-time during their study.

study abroad

How Do I Pay Tuition at an Overseas University or College?

The cost of living, cost of tuition and cost of materials at any school can change without much notice. It is important to make sure you manage risk when it comes to making the necessary payments for any ongoing cost associated with schooling. Managing currency fluctuations is an important part of this risk management.


One of the ways to manage risk when it comes to paying overseas tuition is to use a Forward Contract. This allows you to secure an exchange rate for up to 12 months, so currency fluctuations do not affect your payments.

Another way you can manage your risk while paying for college overseas is to use a Limit Order which allows you to transfer funds when a target exchange rate arises. This is especially helpful if you can work within a window of due dates or are flexible about when your money is transferred.

Typical Costs Associated With Studying Abroad

There may be a wide variety of payments that need to be made when looking at overseas schooling:

 

  • tuition

  • rental payments

  • allowances for the student

  • books and materials

  • Travel budget

  • healthcare or health insurance


With OFX, you can save money on each and every transfer you make.