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The Rising Trend of American Students Seeking Education Abroad

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Explore the rising trend of American students seeking education abroad and the key costs they should consider. From tuition fees and cost of living to exchange rates and additional expenses, learn how to make studying abroad more affordable and plan for a transformative international educational experience.

Questions Answered in this Article

Question 1: What are the key costs to consider when studying abroad? Answer: The key costs to consider when studying abroad include tuition fees, cost of living, exchange rates, other expenses such as healthcare and travel, and visa requirements.

Question 2: Can American students use federal aid for international schools? Answer: Yes, American students can sometimes use federal aid for international schools, including loans. This can help offset the cost of tuition and make studying abroad more affordable.

Question 3: How do fluctuating exchange rates affect the cost of studying abroad? Answer: Fluctuating exchange rates can make it difficult to predict the full cost of studying abroad. It’s essential to account for these fluctuations and build flexibility into your budget to avoid potential financial uncertainties.

Question 4: What are some additional costs to consider when studying abroad? Answer: Besides tuition and living expenses, other costs to consider when studying abroad include healthcare fees, travel expenses, and visa or residency permit requirements. These factors contribute to the overall cost of international education.

Question 5: Are there scholarship opportunities available for international students studying abroad? Answer: Many countries and universities offer scholarships and grants specifically designed for international students. Researching and applying for these funding opportunities can significantly help alleviate the financial burden of studying abroad.


When Emma Freer was a high school senior in 2011, she didn’t find the traditional American campus culture appealing, with its sororities, football games, and broad course requirements. Wanting a different experience, she considered college abroad as a solution. Freer graduated from Scotland’s University of St. Andrews in 2016, debt-free and equipped with a master’s in English and social anthropology. The allure of cheaper tuition and the opportunity to explore new cultures has led many college-bound Americans to consider international programs. In this article, we explore the factors contributing to college affordability abroad, focusing on key costs students should consider.

Tuition: Exploring Affordability and Financial Aid Options

Tuition costs significantly influence the decision to study abroad. Jennifer Viemont, the founder of Beyond the States, emphasizes that tuition abroad catches students’ attention. Tuition fees can vary based on location and type of institution. For example, Germany abolished public university tuition fees for all students, including international ones, in 2014. On the other hand, prestigious institutions like England’s Oxford University charge international students up to approximately $53,900 per year. American students can often utilize federal aid and loans for international schools. Furthermore, undergraduate degrees abroad typically take three years, potentially saving a full year’s tuition and expenses.

More: Navigating Student Loan Repayment: Challenges and Strategies for Borrowers as Payments Resume

Cost of Living: Beyond Tuition Expenses

The cost of living, including housing, food, and other essential expenses, varies across cities and countries. To illustrate, Norway provides free tuition to all students, but the average student must budget around $1,260 monthly for living expenses, as the University of Bergen reported. In contrast, Portugal’s basic expenses amount to roughly half that, requiring approximately $640 per month, according to ISPA, Lisbon’s Institute of Applied Psychology. Considering the cost of living alongside tuition expenses is crucial when planning to study abroad.

More: Working Students and College Affordability: The Impact of Wages and Inflation

Exchange Rates: Accounting for Fluctuations

Fluctuating exchange rates pose challenges in accurately estimating the total cost of international education. Jessica Sandberg, dean of international enrollment at Duke Kunshan University, advises students to build flexible budgets to account for exchange rate shifts. When Emma Freer studied at St. Andrews, the exchange rate was unfavorable, resulting in discrepancies between the amount she saved in dollars and the converted amount in her Scottish bank account. Choosing a country with a favorable exchange rate is wise to mitigate potential financial uncertainties.

Other Costs to Consider

Aside from tuition and living expenses, other factors contribute to the overall cost of studying abroad.

  • Health Care: Many countries require students to pay an annual fee to access national health care systems. Although these fees may amount to a few hundred dollars annually, the coverage is often comprehensive, ensuring minimal out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Travel: Students who plan to travel during their free time should budget for travel expenses. Unforeseen emergencies or urgent family matters may lead to additional travel costs, making it advisable to set aside funds for unexpected situations.
  • Visas: Most countries or regions necessitate student visas or residency permits. While the associated costs are typically manageable, some countries require proof of financial means. For instance, the UK mandates demonstrating sufficient savings to cover the first year of tuition and approximately $11,200 for living expenses.

More: Studying Abroad for American Students: Key Costs to Consider Beyond Cheaper Tuition Fees


As the desire for an international education grows among college-bound Americans, it is essential to consider the costs involved. While cheaper tuition often attracts students, factors like the cost of living, exchange rates, and additional expenses should not be overlooked. By carefully assessing these factors and planning accordingly, students can make informed decisions about studying abroad, ensuring a successful and affordable educational experience.

Ultimately, studying abroad offers academic education and an opportunity for personal growth and cultural immersion. As Emma Freer experienced at the University of St. Andrews, living abroad provided her with a second education in travel and the invaluable experience of being an outsider in a new culture. Many students find that this transformative experience is well worth the financial considerations.

To make studying abroad more affordable, students should explore scholarship opportunities designed for international students. Many countries and universities offer scholarships and grants to attract talented students worldwide. Researching and applying for these funding opportunities can significantly alleviate the financial burden.

Additionally, students can consider part-time work or internships while studying abroad to supplement their income and gain valuable professional experience. Some countries even allow students to work part-time during their studies. However, it’s essential to research the work regulations and restrictions of the host country before making plans.

Another aspect to consider is the potential long-term benefits of international education. Graduates who have studied abroad often possess a global mindset, cross-cultural communication skills, and adaptability, which employers highly value in today’s interconnected world. These attributes can enhance career prospects and provide a competitive edge in the job market.

In conclusion, studying abroad offers American students an exciting and enriching educational experience. While tuition costs are a significant consideration, it is crucial to factor in the cost of living, exchange rates, and other associated expenses. By carefully planning and exploring financial aid options, students can realize their dream of studying abroad without compromising their economic well-being. With proper research, budgeting, and resourcefulness, students can embark on a transformative journey that combines academic excellence with cultural immersion and personal growth.

More: Paying for an MBA: A Comprehensive Guide to Funding Options

Read: 8 Approved Tips for Paying for College: Expert Strategies for Affording Higher Education

Definition of Terms

  1. Sororities: Social organizations for female college students, typically associated with specific universities or colleges, focused on promoting sisterhood, academic support, and community service.
  2. Tuition: The fee charged by educational institutions for instruction and academic services.
  3. Exchange rates: The value of one currency relative to another in the foreign exchange market. Fluctuating exchange rates can impact the cost of international transactions and currency conversions.
  4. Cost of living: The amount required to cover basic expenses such as housing, food, transportation, and other necessities in a specific location or country.
  5. Federal aid: Financial assistance provided by the government, typically in the form of grants, loans, or work-study programs, to help students cover the cost of education.
  6. Financial aid: Funding provided to students to help pay for their educational expenses, including scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study opportunities.
  7. Visa: A document issued by a country’s government that allows individuals to enter, stay, or study in that country for a specified period. It is typically required for international students to study abroad.
  8. Residency permit: A document that grants permission for foreign nationals to reside in a specific country for an extended period, usually for study, work, or other purposes.
  9. Health care system: The organization and provision of medical services and healthcare facilities in a particular country, which may require individuals to pay fees or contribute to access healthcare services.
  10. Scholarship: Financial aid awarded to students based on various criteria, such as academic merit, talent, or specific characteristics, to support their education without needing repayment.
  11. Grants: Financial aid provided to students based on need or specific criteria, often awarded by governments, institutions, or private organizations, which do not require repayment.
  12. Budget: A plan that outlines and allocates financial resources for specific purposes, considering income, expenses, and savings.
  13. Cultural immersion: The process of thoroughly engaging and experiencing the customs, traditions, language, and lifestyle of a particular culture or community, often through direct interaction and participation.
  14. Professional experience: Practical work or internships that provide individuals with hands-on experience and skills in their chosen field of study or profession.
  15. Global mindset: An open and inclusive perspective considering diverse cultures, views, and global interconnectedness, fostering understanding and adaptability in an increasingly globalized world.
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