Stress-Free Budgeting: Tips for International Students

January 28th, 2021 by Al C

Yes, it can be stressful when you’re planning to study abroad. There are many perfectly understandable reasons to feel stressed or anxious. Tuition fees are high, you’ve got food costs, study materials, transportation, health insurance, and lots of other expenses. 

Even the currency exchange rate can be a concern.

When you don’t have enough financial means you might consider taking out a student loan. Paying back the student loan can add another layer of stress. But still millions of students can be found at international colleges every year. 

Students find ways to manage their financial situation and complete their education in international colleges.

Stress-Free Budgeting Live with ISI

Here are some budgeting tips for students who want to study abroad:

Tuition fees and other expenses:

The tuition fees are probably the most expensive thing you will face when you plan to study abroad. The yearly cost can reach up to five figures and for some private colleges it can even reach up to six figures (USD). The Financial Aid Office or Admissions Office at your college of choice will have up to date information about their tuition fees.

But tuition is not the only cost to consider, living abroad involves other expenses like transportation, phone bills, health insurance, food expenses, holiday expenses, accommodation and more. When we talk about the cost of accommodation, most colleges provide (or at least offer) dorm rooms to their international students. But you can still choose to live off campus — alone or with a group of people. The rental cost for private accommodation will depend on the location you choose to live in. 

It will be cheaper if you choose to live in a dorm. You can save money because you won’t have to pay for electricity, water, and internet bills as they will be included in the cost. You can also save money because you will be living on the college campus and therefore probably won’t have additional transportation costs. 

Part-time jobs:

Depending on your visa status you might be allowed to have a part-time job while studying. When allowed students can typically work for up to 20 hours a week during the semester and full-time during holidays and semester breaks. This could be a useful source of income to help you with your daily expenses.

Take advice from international student advisors:

Most international colleges have a dedicated advisory office for international students. They provide students the necessary advice so they can manage their experience — including their finances. They help students with budget plans, part-time job information, and other related information. It is a good idea to get their advice before making any decisions relating to your finances.

International student loans:

Although they might seem like a golden opportunity, remember that paying back your international student loans can cause stress and worry for some students. Getting an International student loan should usually be your last port of call for additional funds. We suggest you first look for financial aid and scholarships from schools and other sources. If you still find a financial gap after exhausting all the other sources, this is the time when international student loans come in handy. 

Summary: 

If you focus on your education and keep an eye on your budget, you’ll be able to enjoy completing your education at an international college. Try to avoid unnecessary expenses and focus more on savings. Here are a few examples of how you can save money: Use a bicycle to avoid transportation costs, try to cook your food at home rather than eating in a restaurant, so you can avoid food costs. Most importantly take advice from school advisors, they can assist you with your budgeting.

At the same time, look for ways to make the most of your time as a foreign student, take part in activities and explore your home away from home while you can.


How much does it cost for an international student to study at university in the US?

January 18th, 2021 by Al C

How much does it cost for an international student to study at university in the US?

Millions of students around the world dream of studying in the US. There are a lot of famous universities and colleges to choose from. Improving their future prospects, getting a high quality higher education, and access to better opportunities are just some of the reasons why so many students want to study at a university in the US.

But to get the best quality product you usually have to pay a high price. US colleges are some of the most expensive colleges in the world, but still millions of international students apply every year.

So, how much does an international student pay to study in the US? The annual cost can reach up to five figures.

Most colleges don’t have a standardized government fee system. It mostly depends on the college and the course you choose.

There are multiple types of institutions available in the US such as community colleges, private colleges, and public colleges. Most international students study at public and private colleges rather than community colleges.

Private colleges are the costliest of them all. On average public colleges charge between $35,000 and $45,000 and private colleges charge from $50,000 to $75,000 per year.

Tuition Fees:

Tuition fees for international students

Private universities charge more tuition fees as compared to public and community colleges.

Public colleges get their funding mostly from the state government and private colleges get their funding from private organizations and donations. Community colleges or two year colleges also usually get their funding from the government just like public colleges.

Subjects like the arts, education, and humanities tend to be less expensive than engineering, medical, dentistry, and other similar subjects.

Higher courses like masters are usually more expensive than undergraduate courses. The college tuition fees depend on the college or course that you are planning to pursue. They differ from college to college. However, international students almost always pay significantly more than American students.

  • Undergraduate Courses:

The cost of undergraduate degrees in the US varies greatly between institutions, and it is even higher for international students. International students pay $25,000-$35,000 per year at a public university and $30,000-$45,000 at private colleges on average. The cost can reach up to $50,000-$55,000 per year for some private colleges.

For a cheaper option, you can go to a community college. You will receive an associate’s degree instead of a bachelor’s degree because community colleges provide 2-year courses. They can charge you $2500-$3000 per year. You can use the associate’s degree as a qualification for the first half of your bachelor’s degree and later you can apply for a master’s degree as well.

  • Postgraduate Courses:

All the fees depend on the courses that you choose. In general a Ph.D. or master’s courses will cost less than the MBA, JD, or MD courses. International students usually pay $20,000-$35,000 for public colleges and $35,000-$50.000 for private colleges per year.

Accommodation Costs:

Most colleges offer their international students on-campus residence. The residence is often called a “dorm room” or dormitory. Students usually share a room with 2 or 3 other students. Colleges provide daily essentials like water, electricity, and the internet. Students also share bathrooms, showers, and so on. It depends on the college how much they charge for on-campus accommodation. On average this is between $5000-$8000 per year.

international student accommodation costs

However, you can choose to stay at a non-campus residence as well. You can share an apartment with other students or you can live alone as well. The rent depends on the area you are staying in. The Midwest region is cheaper than the East and Northeast in the US. But, you have to pay your electricity, internet, and water bills along with the rent. The usual rate for a single bedroom apartment is between $6,000-$15,000 per year – depending on the apartment and location.

Living Expenses:

It will be a good idea to make some savings for your daily and basic needs like emergencies, shopping, groceries, food, water, clothes, books, and study materials. When you live abroad you should track even your smallest expenses. This will help you to keep an eye on your overall expenses and you can save or set a budget for a period.

living expenses in the USA

A good estimate would be $10,000-$12,000 per year for international students. The cost might vary where you are staying.

Student Visa:

A student visa is mandatory for all international students. It can be a long process as well. As an international student, you have to apply and get accepted by a Student and Visitor Exchange Program (SEVP) certified college. After the approval process, you will receive the I-20 from where all of your information will be recorded.

student visa required

Visa applicants have to pay a non-refundable fee. All students are categorized as F, M, or J, depending on their courses, merit, and colleges. They have to pay $350 as a SEVP fee and a visa application fee of $160.

Health Insurance:

Staying so far away from your home can be hard. Thousands of international students get injured or need medical attention throughout their courses. Student health insurance provides international students with financial support in these kinds of situations. International students must have proof of health insurance to get admission to US colleges. Without health insurance, international students can not apply for US colleges.

health insurance required

Under the age of 25, international students can expect to pay $30-$140 for health insurance per month depending on the college and the health insurance package.

Transportation:

Usually, most colleges provide dormitories to their international students. When you stay inside the college campus you won’t be using transportation too much, unless you are going somewhere off-campus. However, if you choose to live outside of the college campus, you will need transportation. Luckily, in the US transportation costs are not that high, and there are multiple options to choose from. You can get cabs, trains, and buses or you can use vehicle rental facilities.

transportation costs

Bus and train passes cost around $30-$50 per month for students. For additional expenses, you can expect to pay around $100-$120 per month in your total transportation. However, that cost mostly depends on where you are staying.

In summary:

Yes, it is costly to study in the US. International students pay around $32,000-$60,000 per year depending on the university and the course. It is a lot of money but there are various options and opportunities available for international students. You can get the facilities of international student financial aid, international scholarships, international student loans, and help from private and government organizations as well.


Win $100 By Answering Our Second Question

July 11th, 2014 by Jennifer Frankel

Thumbs up176380839Question #2

“What’s your favorite page on International Student Loan? Share it with us!”

Simply answer the second question on Facebook, Twitter, or our blog, and you’ll be entered to win $100 gift card! Check out International Student Loan to see what peaks your interest. Is it the videos? Maybe the infographic? Or maybe it’s a resource page? Be sure to comment below on our blog, or share it on our Facebook or Twitter page to enter to win.

Submit your answer before 3pm EST on Wednesday, July 16th for your chance to win. Our second winner will be announced next Thursday, July 17th, so stay tuned!

If you are in need of cash now, win $100 on our Financial Aid Fun Contest, put on in partnership with InternationalStudentLoan.com and InternationalStudent.com. Be sure to check back next week where a new question will be announced on Friday, July 18th. Good luck on financing your education!

*Winner announced:

The winner for our second question has just been announced, congrats to Sunshine Darling who just won $100 gift card! Sunshine told us that her favorite page was Making a Repayment Plan- and Sticking to it on InternationalStudentLoan.com. Congratulations Sunshine!


Want to Find A School You Can Afford? Learn How Tomorrow

April 24th, 2014 by Jennifer Frankel

child with education iconsOur partner, InternationalStudent.com, is hosting a Google Hangout tomorrow at 11am EST on how to find a school you can afford.

We all know that going to a US college or university is expensive. But did you know that you have many options to choose from, public versus private as well as community college versus a 4-year university? Did you know that the price tag of a US education can fluctuate from getting a full scholarship to paying upwards of $40,000 per year (and that doesn’t even include living expenses!)?

Tomorrow’s Hangout will discuss these and other options, so that you are well informed as you make key decisions about your future – and your wallet. You won’t want to miss this Hangout where InternationalStudent.com will be discussing what steps to take and what resources are available to you so that you can find a school without breaking the bank.

You are cordially invited to attend tomorrow’s hangout, Friday, April 24th at 11am EST.

Make sure you prepare your questions in advance as they’ll have plenty of time at the end to answer all your education and finance questions. Don’t forget to set a calendar reminder and we hope to see you there!

Want to see other Google Hangout’s about financing your education? Check out International Student Loan’s YouTube channel to learn about budgeting, international student loans, and scholarships!


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 »


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