Studying abroad can be a life-changing experience that can enrich you and forever affect the view you have of the world. But should you borrow money to pay for it? When considering studying abroad, you have to look carefully at what you can get from the experience and how much you’ll need to borrow, as well as how you plan to pay off the travel debt when your studies are done. Before you decide what level of borrowing is best for you, or if you want to forgo the experience and the debt that comes with it, consider the following.
How much debt you already have.
If you don’t have any debt, borrowing a little for an experience like studying abroad may be worth it. However, for people who have a lot of student debt (or other debt) already, it’s often best to either stay in your home country or only study abroad if you can do it on the money you already have. In that case, you can still have a great time. Just don’t borrow any extra to fund additional experiences while you’re there. You should be busy studying anyway, and may not be doing too many weekend activities.
The countries you’ll visit, along with how you’ll get there and where you’ll stay.
There are a lot of low-fare flights and inexpensive place to stay in many countries. If you’re only going to be in one country during your time abroad, your current savings may be enough to sustain you. Look for youth hostels, train or bus passes, and other options that can save you a lot of money. Depending on the country (or countries) you’re visiting, there are a number of low cost options for sleeping arrangements and travel that are fun and safe for foreign students.
The budget you have created (or need to create).
If you don’t have a budget already, you should create one. While there can always be unexpected expenses, it’s best to have a clear idea of how much the basics are going to cost you. Then you can budget for those things, and take a look at whether you’ll be covered. You want to have some extra left over, of course, but your savings may be enough and you won’t need to borrow anything.
If you have a safety net.
If you have extra money in another account, or you have parents or other relatives who will help you if you get into a financial bind, it may be better to use that in an emergency, instead of borrowing money. Without any safety net, it may be necessary for you to borrow in order to make sure you can enjoy your experience and have enough money to get home when it’s over.
The financing options you can use, and which ones may be right for you.
Borrowing money is serious, but can be done responsibly. Make sure you borrow from a reputable lender, and that you check out the interest rate and the repayment terms. There are pros and cons to nearly every lender, and you want to find the best borrowing option for you, personally. Everyone’s situation is different when they borrow money to study abroad, so be sure to do your research. That will give you the best chance of making the right choice for your needs.