In college, you may have the kind of control over your schedule that you haven’t had before. Deciding to study abroad is a great way to use your time — and by spending several months in a country as a student, you’ll have an opportunity to learn a different culture and maybe even another language, too.
But before you pack your bags, it’s important to get your finances in order so you can immerse yourself in your temporary home without worry. Here are a few steps to take.
- Check on financial aid options. Tuition for study abroad programs often costs more, so your usual sources of financial aid may not be enough. Your study abroad counselor can explain how your current aid will transfer and can help you find other loan or scholarship possibilities.
- Find out when you have to pay. If possible, pay your tuition and fees before you leave the U.S. Your school’s study abroad program likely has payment deadlines. But if you’re going to be gone for longer than a quarter or semester, talk with an advisor to see if payment deadlines will change while you’re overseas.
- Set up an everyday money source. Know how you’ll make daily purchases. Ask your parents if you can become a registered user on one of their credit cards, or find out if your bank is part of any international ATM networks. To avoid foreign transaction or withdrawal fees, use a travel credit card or go to in-network ATMs.
- Prepare for emergencies. If you get in a jam and can’t use a credit card or access enough cash, you can transfer money to yourself or have your parents wire it to you. Research which money transfer service works best for your circumstances. This option also might come in handy if you encounter unexpected school fees.
The more work you do on your finances upfront, the more time you’ll have to make the most of your rail pass and explore every museum.