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Financial Literacy: Studying Abroad on a Budget

Find a penny, pick it up...and put it into your retirement fund! Financial Literacy focuses on making smart financial decisions and planning for the future.


Tokyo Skyline. Source: Moyan Brenn, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0

Studying Abroad

Interested in studying abroad? While it sounds fun, it may be difficult to pull off with your normal budget. The average student spends an extra $3k-5k while studying abroad ("Half the Luggage, Double the Money"). Learning how to budget a long trip is a perfect way to increase your financial literacy! Pick up a few tips and tricks from the resources below to minimize your spending and maximize your adventures.

Use Duquesne's handy study abroad financial worksheet to begin budgeting your trip.

Fund your trip through scholarships! Check out Duquesne's recommended scholarships and resources for finding more.

Want to travel on the weekends?

It's easy to move from country-to-country overseas, but weekend getaways to Paris or Hong Kong quickly add up.

If you're traveling in Europe, consider investing in the Eurail Global Pass. For farther distances or if you want to cram as much in as possible, use Skyscanner or Google Flights to find the best prices. Skyscanner is generally ranked as the #1 service, but Google Flights has more capabilities for exploring flights and gives suggestions for changing your dates slightly to find cheaper prices.

Staying in an Airbnb may appear cheap at first, but check to make sure they don't charge high cleaning fees or add on additional fees for more than 2 people (even if it says it's a 3-person room!) In some instances, a hostel may be a better bet. Check all of your options first, including splurging on a sleeper car in an overnight train rather than finding lodging!

Source: "Half the Luggage, Double the Money"

Banking Abroad

Find a bank that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees or reimburses you for the ATM fees. For a comparison of the major U.S. banks, see page 8 of "Half the Luggage." If your bank has high fees, it may be worth opening a student account with another bank to benefit from this!

If your bank allows it, order foreign currency before you leave so that you can pay for your taxi and your first meals without having to use the exchange machines and ATMs at the airport - it's usually cheaper to get your money elsewhere.

***Don't forget to let your credit card company know that you'll be traveling abroad so that they don't freeze your account as soon as you make a foreign transaction!!***

Source: "Half the Luggage, Double the Money"

More Tips and Tricks

"Half the Luggage, Double the Money" (If you don't feel like reading all 50 pages, get the shortened version.)

Use Yale's Budget Calculator to see how much you should have saved before you go!

CashCourse's Adios America! Preparing to Go Abroad has financial arrangement tasks to complete before leaving the country.

University of Washington: Note the fundraising ideas at the bottom!

At our Italian Campus? Read up on posts specific to studying in Italy.

Get the most recent travel guides from the Carnegie Library for money-saving tips on attractions.

Search blogs to find first-hand experiences in saving money and avoiding scams abroad. Just remember that these stories are sometimes coming from students, not professionals, that may stretch the truth about stretching their dollars!