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Exchange programs give students a chance to broaden their horizons in many ways. Some reasons you should consider studying abroad include learning about other cultures, getting familiar with different school systems, and expanding your knowledge.

Students having limited financial assets at their disposal can use the study abroad opportunities. Studying abroad can cost a significant amount of money and includes a variety of expenses, from food and books to accommodation. Some students get accommodation at university campuses, while others need to look for apartments or residency programs.

No matter the case, it’s important to have a budget planner for studying abroad and manage your money wisely during the duration of the exchange program (typically six months to a year). 

Accommodation Options for Studying Abroad

While planning to study abroad, the first thing on your agenda should be sorting out your accommodation,  and the price of the accommodation will depend on your monthly budget planner. Some universities are located in bustling metropolises, while others might have small university towns. It is worth noting, however, that the rent for accommodations near universities is hardly ever cheap.

There are different kinds of living options available: 

  1. University Dorm: Since student organizations usually mediate exchange programs, exchange students often stay in dorms. In some cases, dorm prices are subsidized, so you’ll pay only a fraction of the full price. 
  2. Local Hosting Family: Many programs offer the choice of staying with a local family that has volunteered to host students enrolled in university exchange programs. The clear benefits include a very low cost of living and having someone to help you acclimatize to a new culture and lifestyle. By interacting closely with your host family, you can form new connections and learn more about a new culture.
  3. Sharing an apartment: Sharing a private apartment or even a house with other students is also viable. In these cases, each student usually has their own room and shares the costs of utilities and rent.

Renting an apartment yourself: The most expensive option is renting an entire apartment. Even though it’s the most comfortable choice, the cost is a huge deterrent, and so is living in a foreign place by yourself for the first time.

Learning about living conditions 

When you’re forming a budget for studying abroad, calculate the monthly expenses you’re going to incur. Start from the rent and overhead bills, then add the monthly costs for food, travel, and miscellaneous expenses, together with books and materials for your studies. You can use websites like Numbeo to compare prices in your home country to those of the place where you’re going to study.

It’s best to consult with the organizers of the study program you’re going to take part in. They will know more about the covered costs vs. the ones you need to cover on your own, including but not limited to plane tickets and tuition fees. Students enrolled in foreign exchange programs might get a pass for a cafeteria subsidized by the state. In general, cafeteria food is very affordable.

Before enrolling in a foreign student exchange program, find out more about the social aspects of living in the country in question. For some students, this is the first time they will be separated from their families. That feeling of being on your own gets compounded when you live in a new country with its own culture. But you need not worry since you can learn more about studying abroad without your family and be prepared for future challenges.

Electronic Payments vs Cash

Moving to another country means getting used to a new currency as well.

When it comes to foreign currencies and exchange rates, travelling abroad is much simpler than before. Educating yourself about exchange rates with the number of resources available is easy. You can also compare rates in different banks and credit card companies to get the best deal. Once you do the homework, you should get some cash in the currency of the country you will visit. That way, a money exchange office won’t be the first thing you’ll have to look for upon arriving.

However, cash is a better choice only at the beginning of your stay abroad. You should use cards instead as you get accustomed to the local currency and prices. The main advantages of card payments are as follows:

  • Reduced risk of theft – If you don’t carry cash around with you, it’s less likely that you’ll get robbed.
  • Easy to accept payments – Your parents can transfer money to your card in no time. You can pay with it and keep track of your expenditures.
  • Transfers to the university account – Some programs can last longer than a semester, and others offer the option of paying the exchange fee in instalments. A bank card can be used to make those payments much more easily. Your parents can transfer money to your card, which you can use to transfer the funds to the university. 

You can use some modern payment methods such as PayPal and Payoneer, but there are some convenient new bank cards, like the Niyo Global Card. With this card, you can exchange money at real-time rates without additional expenses, load money onto the card at any time, and withdraw from any ATM in the world. Keep tabs on the exchange rate available in the Niyo Mobile App – which is quite transparent – when you need to make a large payment, such as your tuition fee.

Limiting communication expenses

Living outside your home country can incur additional communication costs. Even though many people today use various communication apps, sometimes they’re not enough for proper communication.

For example, let’s say you want to keep using your home country’s phone number while abroad. When you’re connected to a Wi-Fi connection, you can communicate without any problems, but if there’s no Wi-Fi connection in your surroundings, you suddenly become detached from the world. Using roaming Internet data is too expensive.

That’s why it’s smart to get a phone with a local phone number and a local data package, or just an additional SIM card in case your phone has a Dual SIM option. That way, you’ll be available to your family and friends all the time, plus you’ll be able to make phone calls within the country you’re staying in. Be sure to do research on the top network providers before you get there!

Still, keep your original phone number active so that people can get you that way as well. 

Spending money wisely

Higher education doesn’t only refer to the knowledge you gain during your studies. Students need to learn how to manage their expenses, regardless of whether they study at home or abroad. If you take the time to pick up some financial practices, you’ll be well on your way to spending money wisely and saving too. Here are a few pointers to get you started:

  • Buy things online at better prices (another benefit of using bank cards and electronic payments)
  • Subscribe to online libraries instead of buying books for studies 
  • Look for student discount cards (especially for railways and public transport)
  • Buy more valuable items at home if they’re significantly cheaper there (clothes, electronic devices, etc.)

You can also use the Niyo mobile app to track your previous transactions and monthly expenditures. These data will help you budget more effectively and keep your costs under control.

Opt for student discount cards

One of the greatest perks of being a college student is that you get access to endless coupons and discounts when you show your student card. This will help you in saving a lot of your money.  Make it a point to always carry your student card with you whether you are going grocery shopping, to movies, restaurants, or even while using transportation services. 

Consider a part-time source of income

When you are enrolled in a foreign exchange student program, doing a part-time job while studying is a great option which will not only polish your language and communication skills but also aid your monetarily. But while doing a part-time job, make sure that it does not overshadow your studies. Some methods to land a part-time job include checking the university office for listening or joining job portals to find the relevant job that matches your skill set. 

Using study abroad opportunities and joining a student exchange program is a valuable experience for any student. Such a move requires a lot of planning, especially when it comes to finances. Students planning to study abroad need to know where they’re going to live, how much they’re going to pay for their studies, and how expensive that town and country are. When you consider these elements and apply the budgeting tips provided in this article, you’ll be ready to start your exchange program.


  1. What are the basic expenses to consider while studying abroad?

    The basic expenses you need to consider while studying abroad are the tuition fee and the cost of living in that particular country.

  2. Which is the cheapest country to study abroad?

    As per the living cost, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Germany, Singapore, and the Netherlands are the cheapest countries to study abroad.

  3. What are some smart budgeting tips while studying abroad?

    Some budgeting tips that will come in handy while you are studying abroad are:

    1. Plan a monthly budget and stick to it:

      Apply the 50-30-20 rule, where 50% of your budget needs to be allocated to needs such as food and accommodation and paying the utility bills. 30% can be used to spend on your wants, like going out, planning a trip, eating out, making a luxury purchase, etc. The remaining 20% of your money must be saved.

    2. Distinguish between your long-term and short-term investment goals:

      Even when you are a student, you need to start thinking about investing. Categorize your goals into short-term and long-term. Short-term investment goals are directed towards achieving things like buying a furniture, or going for a vacation, and long-term goals can be a deposit for a house or saving for retirement.

    3. Keep track of your spending:

      Keep track of all your expenses and categorize them into essential and non-essential expenses. When you notice that your expenses exceed your budget, cut down on non-essential expenses . The key to savings is to be aware of every single transaction that you are doing.

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