How I Paid for Two Years in Australia:
Financial Prep for Study Abroad
So, you've decided to study abroad? How exciting! With dreams of the adventures that await, it can be tough to sit down and think logistics.
If you take the time to map out your finances now, though, you'll not only leave yourself with less stress during your studies, but you'll be far more likely to recover afterward from the long list of unforeseen expenses. You'll be financially stable and ready use that shiny new degree of yours!
The prep works begins with becoming familiar on which currency you'll be using.
When I started my time abroad, the US dollar was stronger than the Australian dollar. I remember thinking to myself, "Hmph, this is great! I have enough money to pay my tuition with some to spare".
What I didn't realize was how quickly that could change.
Within months of starting my degree, the US dollar changed to parody, and by the end of my two-year stint in Australia, I was paying 1.5 times more than when I had initially set out!
Take it from me: if you have the luxury to pay entirely upfront – do it. If not, educate yourself on the trends of the dollar and always expect the unexpected.
Just like here in The States, you'll probably want to earn some income while you're studying.
If for nothing but for another chance to see life through the eyes of a local, it'll give you that cushion for unexpected expenses.
I had the luxury of working at a cupcake cafÃ© – I'm talking straight out of Breakfast at Tiffany's, this place was stunning! To my surprise, a cafÃ© job in Australia could provide a reasonable income. I was able to pay my rent and pay double on my pending student loan payment from undergraduate school.
Try and plan for more than just your current budget and take into consideration what you'll be responsible for once you've graduated. Unlike the grace period that you receive from federal loans in the US, most – if not all – of the loans you'll be taking out to study abroad will be private. Depending on the lender, you could be looking at a hefty bill by the day you graduate.
Speaking of loans...
Borrowing money can be one of the trickiest parts of preparing to study abroad.
By the time I realized that I didn't have enough savings left to pay tuition, it was already a dire situation.
Loans accepted in the US are not always the same as those accepted abroad. It highly varies by country.The university I attended was so picky that they only accepted loans from one US student loan lender. To make matters worse, the lender only had two student loan products to choose from.
You can easily avoid this situation by planning for the worst. Do your research and figure out what your options would be, even if you think you're all set. Take it a step further and contact the loan provider to get a clear picture of the interest rate for the loan as well.
It's all about the prep work when it comes to studying abroad. Don't feel like you have to go about it alone, though. If you still have questions, we're here to help.