Join Us This Wednesday: Budgeting for International Students

March 24th, 2014 by Jennifer Frankel

pumping dollar sign187897805Going off to college on your own isn’t easy – let alone off to college in a whole different country. It’s an exciting and scary time, a chance to be independent and do what you want, when you want. But then it is also a chance to deal with all of the responsibilities as well – including managing your money!

No matter where your studies take you, studying overseas is expensive when you consider that you will probably pay more in tuition, and that you’ll have to consider other costs such as your living expenses, travel, etc.

Join International Student Loan this Wednesday at 2:00pm EST where they will walk you through the many steps of budgeting as an international student.

You won’t want to miss this Google Hangout focused on Budgeting for International Students. In this Hangout, they will be sharing the ways that you can improve your budgeting skills so that you can do all the must-do’s while you are studying overseas!

How Do I Join?

This week’s Google Hangout is free for all students! Simply sign up, set a calendar reminder, and attend the hangout this Wednesday at 2:00 EST. Be sure to check your local time so that you don’t miss it!

How Can I Join the Conversation?

You will not only learn more about budgeting from a Financial Aid Representative, but you’ll also get a chance to join the conversation and get your questions answered. Here’s how:

Questions and Comments?

International Student Loan will be available after the Hangout to get all your questions answered in real-time. Be sure to stick around and join our social channels to get your questions answered – and see what other international students are saying!


5 Tips To Save Money on New Year’s Eve

December 30th, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel

new years78820594No matter which country you are in for New Year’s, chances are there are a number of event going on to celebrate. In the US, for example, bringing in the new year can cost a lot. According to the Mint.com’s New Year’s Analysis, 70% of Americans will celebrate in some way – and 13% of Americans will spend more than $200. This includes attending parties, throwing parties, going out for dinner, and a number of other activities. This doesn’t mean that you have to budget that much – after all, you are a student on a limited budget! Here are some key ways to save money on New Year’s Eve:

1. The Party. Sure, there are epic parties to bring in the new year with ticket prices costing upward of $50 depending on where you live. This is typically just the entrance fee, and may not include drinks or dinner. Think about how you want to celebrate and factor in the total costs:

  • Dinner
  • Transportation
  • Drinks
  • Ticket Price
  • Lodging

If you are going with a group of people, ask if you can get a group discount. If you want to get New Year’s gear beforehand, you can find cheap goodies at the Dollar Store – or the equivalent nearby.

2. Transportation. If you are going to be celebrating far from home, remember that you’ll need to get there and back. If you are going to use public transportation to get there, will it be running after midnight? If not, consider the cost of a taxi or another alternative as well. Remember, be safe during New Years and don’t drive if you’ve been drinking.

3. Attire. New Years parties are sometimes a formal affair requiring you to wear a tuxedo or dress. Buying a designer outfit can be expensive, but you can rent a tuxedo for a night, or you can find great discounts post-Christmas. Don’t forget, you might have some nice clothes stashed away in your closet already!

4. Drinks. In many places around the world, champagne is the way to bring in the new year. Look for bottles on sale, see if you can purchase them wholesale (if you are throwing the party), and you may even find better deals at liquor stores. If you aren’t sold on champagne, there are delicious cheaper alternatives such as Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine, that you can find at half the price.

5. Food. You can save a lot of money by eating before and after your party, as opposed to purchasing a ticket with everything included. You can go to a mid-range restaurant, eat your heart out, and then go celebrate. After your party, you can find some good discounted food if you have the munchies. Don’t forget about online discount restaurant coupons that can knock a few extra dollars off your meal.


Get the Best Exchange Rate

December 29th, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel

money458058315Exchange rates can mean the difference of losing or making a few dollars with each transaction. When it comes to credit cards, cash, debit cards, wire transfers, and ATM fees, you should expect to pay more for the service of converting one currency to another. Be sure to understand how each of these methods work so that you have the lowest fee and the best exchange rate.

Know The Conversion Rate

With so many methods of payment, it’s important to contact your bank and credit card company to understand exactly how the charges work. Remember, exchange rates vary by the second, but that doesn’t mean that you will get that exact rate. You’ll want to ask:

  • What exchange rate do you use?
  • Where can I find this exchange rate?

Since the rates fluctuate so often, and in some cases dramatically, you’ll want to check the exchange rate regularly to know what rate you’ll get and when you should make large purchases.

Check For Any Fees

Credit Cards
Many credit cards charge an international transaction fee added on to each purchase. The good news is that there are some cards that waive this fee altogether. If you plan to go abroad for a lengthy period of time, consider looking into one of these credit cards and this can certainly save you money in the long-run.

Debit Cards
Not all banks are available worldwide and you may be charged a fee by your bank as well as the bank you use to withdraw money. Take some time to investigate the presence of your bank in your host country – do they have ATM’s in your destination country? If not, do they have a partnership with another bank in your destination country? Either way, it’s important to ask how your debit card will work overseas and what the fees are.

Exchanging Cash
Exchanging money is another way that you can get local currency, but try to avoid doing this at the airport, train stations, or over touristed areas since it is typically more expensive. Remember that the rates given by a bank or currency kiosk can vary, and thus you’ll need to evaluate your options. They all will include a fee to convert one currency into another. The best place is typically at a bank, although in some cases you can find favorable rates in hotels.

Overall, credit cards and debit cards are typically the best way to get local currency (that is, if ATM’s are available in your host country) and to make large purchases. Be sure to ask about security on your credit/debit card, however, to make sure you understand the policies in case your cards get lost or stolen.

Want to learn more about exchange rates? See how to make exchange rates work for you.


Factors to Consider When Choosing Your School

December 22nd, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel

decision165125803There are thousands of schools spread throughout the United States that accept international students. With so many options, it can be hard to narrow down the school that’s right for you. After all, there are so many considerations including the program’s reputation, faculty quality, location, cost of school, financial aid package, etc.

So, that hardest question of all, how do you choose what school to attend when factoring in your budget? This is the most important question that will lead to your financial success long-term. Here are 3 factors to consider when choosing your school as an international student:

1. Urban versus Rural

The cost of living varies greatly depending on where you are located. In the US, as it applies around the world, living in a major city is much more expensive than living in a suburb or even a more rural town. While most students look at studying in New York City, Boston, Washington DC, etc., being open to other options may take a load off your wallet. As an international student in a big city you will pay much more for housing, entertainment, transportation, and local purchases. Certainly, your dollar will go farther in a smaller town so you may find that your quality will go up with the same budget. Be sure to weigh your options according to your available funds to find the location that’s most appropriate for your quality and cost of life.

2. Community College versus 4-year Institution

When it comes to choosing your school, the type of college matters. Community college is just a fraction of the cost of a four year institution and can certainly save you thousands of dollars in just one year. Many international students choose to do 1-2 years at the community college level and then transfer to a 4-year institution. This way, international students will get a more affordable degree and will end up graduating with a degree from the 4-year institution.

3. Public versus Private

In the US, there are both public and private colleges and universities. Public colleges are largely supported by state funds whereas private colleges are supported by tuition, endowments, and donations. Overall, private institutions typically have higher tuition than public institutions, however the final amount you will pay depends. Typically, private colleges have more money to spend on financial aid packages and you may find that after the aid is accounted for, you’ll pay less at a private college than a public one. Apply to those schools you are interested, take advantage of any scholarships, and then compare to find the best value.

Check out InternationalStudentLoan.com’s Infographic on Choosing Your School and article on how to Choose the Right School For Your Budget.


Primary Sources of Funding in 2013

November 13th, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel

iie-logoThis week is a very important week in International Higher Education as it is International Education Week – and thus the week in which the Open Doors Report 2013 is released. In this report are facts and figures that show trends and changes with international students.

As we continue to sift through the data, we were of course especially interested to see what are the Primary Sources of Funding in 2013. As it comes to many as no surprised, the overwhelming majority of international students (63%) reported that their financial support was primarily covered by their own savings or with the help of their family. As a distant second, 20.7% of students said that US colleges and universities were their primary financial support.

In reviewing this data compared to last year, however, the majority of the increase in funding is coming from the U.S. and Foreign Governments. For those of you who have their finger on the pulse of international higher education, it comes as no surprise.

Saudi Arabia had a 30 percent increase in the number of international students in the US compared to last year. This brought the grand total of Saudi students to 45,000 in the US during the 2012-2013 academic term. The bulk of these students are finding their financial support through the Saudi government scholarship program which has given many students the opportunity to get their degree in the US.

Also seeing a spike in international students to the US is Kuwait, who has a governmental scholarship program that helped contributed to the 37 percent spike of Kuwaiti students in the US. This makes the grand total of Kuwaiti students at 5,100 – boosting them up to the top 25 sending countries.

That’s not all, Brazil also saw a 20 percent increase compared to last year, where the majority of the 10,900 Brazilian students are being supported on the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program that has also given students the opportunity to pursue their undergraduate degree in the USA.

Interested in seeing the data? Check out the Open Doors Report and let us know your thoughts.


Most Expensive Countries for International Students: Australia

August 23rd, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel

australia164473953Students who are interested in studying internationally have a lot of decisions to make before they can begin planning. The most important of these decisions is, obviously, what country to study in. A number of factors go into this decision, including area of study and any language barriers that might arise, but one extremely important factor is the issue of cost. As an international student on a budget, you must be very aware of costs such as tuition fees and living expenses in the country in which you are studying.

We will be doing a series on the most expensive places for international students to study, beginning with number one: Australia. According to a recent study by HSBC Bank which compared the combined cost of university fees and living expenses in major countries, Australia is the world’s most expensive country for international students to study. The typical annual cost for international students is $38,516 in Australia, $35,706 in the United States, $30,325 in the United Kingdom, and $26,011 in Canada—all of which are main competitors in international education. Read the rest of this entry »


Funding Your Education in the US

August 16th, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel

As an international student in the US, chances are you have to worry more about funding your education in the US than your domestic peers do. Because international students do not qualify for federal loans and often have to pay out of state tuition at state colleges, they generally end up paying more for their education than US students.

This infographic seeks to help international students explore their options when it comes to funding their education in the US. Renata and Cristian are both international students, one at a private university, the other at a community college. Like 63% of international students, each primarily rely on personal and family support to pay for their education. However, when something comes up, they both have to find different ways to support themselves.

We hope that this infographic will prove helpful to you as you learn about your different funding options. With the right combination of financial aid, we are certain that you will be able to afford your US education.

Click the infographic above to zoom in.

Interested in applying for international student loans? Find your loans now.


5 Ways to Save Money When Flying Internationally

July 31st, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel

airplane89442207If you are going to be studying overseas for the new school year, you are probably getting ready for your upcoming transcontinental flight. With many new airline regulations and low budget carriers, you may find that you are coming out of pocket on additional perks that you never considered you had to pay. We’ve compiled a list of the top 5 ways to save money when flying internationally.

  1. Shop around. The price of similar flights can vary dramatically between airlines; make sure that you research the prices on as many carriers as possible before purchasing your tickets. You can do this by searching each airline’s website individually, or by utilizing travel sites such as Orbitz, Travelocity, or Kayak. You can also shop around at different airports; the airport closest to your house might not offer the lowest airfare prices, and the difference in price may more than make up for the cost of any additional transportation you need to get to a slightly further airport.
  2. Know when to buy. Timing is everything when it comes to purchasing airline tickets. Airline rates change daily—sometimes hourly—and it can be hard to know when you should buy. Luckily for you, there are trends in airline prices that you can take advantage of. Generally speaking, fares are highest from eight to ten weeks and two to three weeks in advance. Try to purchase your tickets around four to six weeks before you plan to travel. You should also try to avoid shopping for tickets on the weekends; airlines generally announce sales in the middle of the week, so keep an eye out for good deals on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
  3. Know when to fly. The time of year, day of the week, and the time of day all affect the cost of your airline ticket. Flying at the perfect time can actually save you hundreds of dollars. Many destinations have a high season, with elevated visitation and expensive airfare, and a low season, with more moderate visitation and cheaper airfare. Most experts advise travelers to try to book flights for the time period between the two seasons—the shoulder season—when the weather is still nice and the price of tickets has begun to come down. However, as an international student, you don’t have the luxury of a lot of leeway when it comes to the time of your travels; you’re pretty much dictated by the timing of your program. You can, however, choose which day and what time you want to fly out. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday are generally the cheapest days of the week to fly, and you might consider purchasing a ticket for a red-eye flight. These flights take off and land in the early hours of the morning, and are significantly discounted because of the inconvenient time.
  4. Be aware of baggage fees. More and more airlines are increasing the cost of baggage fees. To avoid these costs, try booking flights with airlines that allow one or two bags free of charge, such as JetBlue or Southwest. If you do have to pay a baggage fee, make sure you don’t pay more than you need to by making sure that your bag meets the size and weight requirements set by the airline. This way, you can avoid overweight and oversized luggage fees. Additionally, try fitting as much as you can into your carry-on luggage (as long as it doesn’t exceed the weight and size limit).
  5. Research any other fees. When shopping for airline tickets, remember that the first price you see may not be the price you will end up paying. Often you will find that there are a number of taxes and fees that are not reflected in this initial price, so you need to look for any additional charges when you’re researching airfare. Some of these taxes and fees are mandatory and are tacked on to the price of every ticket. However, airlines are not always upfront about these additional costs.

>> Read more about budget saving tips


Budgeting for Overseas Housing

July 12th, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel

When moving to another country for a semester or year there are always unexpected expenses that arise, but the most important element to studying abroad is knowing where you will be living. The cost of housing while you are abroad will depend on the type of residence you choose and what your available budget is after paying for airfare and your  program. When studying abroad one of the most expensive costs can be where you live, so make sure you consider your options and do the budgeting for overseas housing. Normally you have the option to live with a host family, live in student housing, or find your own apartment. In order to appropriately budget for your housing expenses it is important to consider all the possible costs. Here’s a quick guide to help you consider the expenses that come with each option:

Living with a host family

Often times if you choose to live with a host family, it is organized through your study abroad program. If it is organized through the program then you are usually expected to pay this before you arrive as part of the program’s cost of attendance. Taking care of this before you arrive means that you will not have to worry about paying rent on a monthly basis. Generally living with a host family also means that you will be provided with a room and meals. Because you will be receiving meals on a daily basis, buying your own groceries is not an expense that you will need to consider. Normally, families will provide you with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but any type of snack or special food outside of this will be paid out of your own pocket.

Living in student housing

Living in student housing is similar to living with a host family since you generally pay the amount upfront so monthly rent is not a concern. Student housing can differ from university to university so it is important to find out what type of residence they offer. There are some facilities that provide students with a kitchen and others that do not. Normally housing that does not have kitchens provide access to a campus dining hall. If you are living in student housing without a kitchen your food budget will depend on whether you have the option to purchase a meal plan or pay on a day to day basis. If you have a kitchen then groceries will be an expense. For those who are not quite ready to be chefs in the kitchen, will have to budget for eating out which often times is more expensive.

Finding your own apartment

If your program does not provide either a family stay or residence hall, or if you just prefer to live on your own, moving into a privately owned apartment always comes with more expenses. In some countries, such as Spain, it is common that apartments come furnished. However, in the U.S. this is not the case and apartments that come furnished tend to be quite expensive. It is important to do some research on this, in order to know whether furnishing your apartment with a bed, a desk, etc. will be part of your expenses. Another essential thing to consider is that you budget enough money to be able to pay the first month’s rent and a deposit, which is usually the same amount as the rent. Other expenses can include monthly or bimonthly bills for internet, water, gas, and electric.

>> Want to learn more about apartment costs? Check out Costs to Consider When Changing Apartments


Top 10 Schools Providing Financial Aid to International Students

June 26th, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel

A recent New York Times article announced, “many public institutions that used to get most of their financing from state governments now rely on tuition for more than half their budgets.” It comes as no surprise then that with international students paying out of state tuition – which is higher than the in-state tuition – along with international student fees, that colleges are turning to international students to not only diversify their student body but to also help bridge the funding gap. With that being said, however, there are still schools providing financial aid to international students that show their hard work, dedication, and capability to rise above the challenge.

The U.S. News Report comes out with the list of top 10 schools providing financial aid to international students. This can be quite helpful as studying abroad can be expensive between, travel and tuition, student fees and programming – and after all said and done, the majority of international students are not eligible for federal financial aid programs.

Here are the top 10 schools providing financial aid to international students according to this 2011-2012 report:

School State Average aid awarded to international undergraduates Number of international undergraduates who received aid
Yale University CT $53,255 350
Skidmore College NY $52,967 64
Harvard University MA $51,865 504
Amherst College MA $50,990 141
Trinity College CT $50,854 139
Williams College MA $50,591 127
Dartmouth College NH $48,977 251
University of Chicago IL $48,907 58
Bates College ME $48,888 76
Duke University NC $48,391 134

According to this list, you’ll notice a lot of big name universities and colleges – and most are located in the Northeast in the United States. While applications can be competitive, and financial aid even more so, having an outstanding college application with strong test scores and high school stats can provide you with the opportunity to stand out among the rest.