Studying abroad in the U.S. can be a great decision both for your education, and for your future career prospects. But without factoring in all the costs involved, you could end up in financial trouble. It will definitely be more expensive than your primary studies in your home country. So, what’s the best way to plan your budget to make sure you don’t end up in debt?
Use these smart ways to help you create a realistic budget and stick to it while studying in the U.S.
- Tuition Fees & Administrative Costs
Tuition fees will make up the biggest part of your budget. Make sure to read through the fee structure and payment plan thoroughly. Some universities charge an extra fee for international students. Also, don’t consider only the fees you pay to your school as your tuition cost. You must also include the cost of books, stationery, and other supplies. When selecting a college, make sure to factor in tuition fees and other administrative costs.
- Accommodation and Transportation Costs
Your apartment rent is the second most expensive cost that you could end up paying. Check if your college offers on-campus accommodation. If you opt to live off-campus, consider living with a roommate. Renting an apartment all by yourself can be very expensive.
Transportation costs should also be a part of your monthly budget. If you can find a place to live that’s close to your college, you can save on train or bus tickets. Better yet, opting to live on-campus, if possible, can significantly reduce your transportation costs.
- Food Bills
Food is another expense that might constitute a major chunk of your monthly budget. If you opt to eat out every day, then choose a local place. You can also choose meal plans. Even if you plan to cook at home, you will have to allocate some money for grocery shopping.
- Health Costs
You will have to include the insurance premium payment in your monthly budget when studying abroad. Compare different insurance plans by both monthly and yearly premium costs. Also, check if it is better to buy the plan from a provider in your own country or in the U.S.
- Data Fees
Another key expense is a mobile phone. You will have to pay for carrier fees and internet charges. Check with your current carrier to see if they provide international plans. Also, see if it is better to stick with your current carrier or find a local carrier. Not only you will have to pay for calls and texts, but also for internet usage.
- Travel Plans
One of the biggest attractions of studying abroad is the opportunity to travel more. There are a lot of places in and around the U.S. that you can explore when studying abroad. You can take advantage of low-cost air carriers, or take connecting flights to save on airfare.
Five Steps to Help You Save Money
- Look for scholarships
It is important to determine if you are eligible for a scholarship or grants. You can get grants based on your income. Some universities also offer scholarships and grants based on the academic performance of the student. Read the information provided on the university’s website and work towards getting financial aid – a scholarship or grants.
To save some money on your books, you can choose to buy used books online. You can also downloaded versions of your books.
- Opt for a university town
Staying in a university town can help you save money on rent. A university town can offer good accommodations for less money. When you live in a university town, you can also save money on transportation. If your college does not provide a shuttle, think about investing in a bicycle. This will not only help you stay fit, but also help you save on travel.
- Join travel groups
You can join a trekking group or travel group. Traveling in a group can cost you less. Most college students abroad travel on a budget. This will help you explore the places like a local at cheaper costs.
- Buy health Insurance
Healthcare expenses are exorbitant in the U.S. Although most universities provide a basic coverage plan to international students, it is a good idea to make sure you have a plan that meets all of your coverage needs and requirements. You can buy international student insurance that can help pay for medical bills in case of illness or injury.
- Get a Student Identification Card
Student identification (SID) cards and discount cards are must-haves when you study abroad in the U.S. A SID can allow you to receive student discounts on everything from groceries, to sporting events, public transport, and more.
Super Tips to Help You Stick to Your Budget
- Live like the locals
Spend your money wisely and live as the locals do in your city. Pay attention to what restaurants are popular with other students on a budget. You can also opt to cook at home and save a lot of money. Talk to your friends and classmates about where to get cheaper groceries, and get your coffee from local places that are closer and less expensive.
This will not only help you save lots of money, but also give you a chance to learn about the culture of the city.
- Make a budget and stick to it
Why not make a budget and start practicing in your own country? This will help you prepare for when you’re in the U.S. It will also help you understand how realistic your budget plan is. As a bonus, you might save some money while preparing to study abroad.
- Plan in advance
This can help you save a significant amount of money. While making impromptu plans may sound exciting, it can result in you spending more than you should without thinking about it. Plan your travel, social events, and bills in advance. Make spreadsheets to keep track of your budget every month to see where you can save
4. Employment opportunities
Your budget will differ from city to city. It will also depend on your lifestyle. If your program requires you to stay in the U.S. for a long time, then it might be a good idea to find a job. Working in the U.S. will not only provide you with financial freedom, but also help you broaden your professional network.
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