Tips to help international students manage money while studying abroad

While COVID-19 slowed down international study programs over the past two years of the global pandemic, many students are starting to plan for overseas learning programs again.

In 2021, over 159,000 Australian students participated in international study experiences and despite restrictions, more than 248,000 international students came to Australia.

International students dropped by 9% in 2020 and fell a further 17% in 2021 but as of 15 December 2021, states and territories in Australia are welcoming back international students.

While studying abroad can be transformational, it can also be expensive. For example, the average internal student in Australia pays over AU $30,000 in fees per year for university education compared to choosing to study in their home countries.

For students preparing to spend a semester abroad, it’s important to dedicate time and energy to financially prepare. With finances in order, students can derive the maximum benefit from their educational travels and enjoy their time abroad with decreased financial stress.

Studying abroad provides students with an opportunity to send and receive remittances.

The unfamiliarity can make it easy for unscrupulous companies to take advantage of senders and recipients learning the process for the first time. We’re committed to making transfers as safe and affordable as possible for families sharing funds while separated.

We make the remittance process smooth, convenient and transparent.

We provide online calculators, app notifications and educational information, so that families can get the necessary funds in their students’ accounts when they need them.

I have compiled five tips to ensure students are prepared to manage the financial portion of their trip along with the necessary educational, social and logistical planning.

Plan ahead

Spend time understanding the costs associated with a semester abroad before locking in dates and a host country. The average cost of a study abroad semester is more than $14,000, but the specifics can range greatly depending on where the given program is located.

Factor in more than the cost of the program’s tuition.

Other expenses students might incur during study abroad include

  • Transportation, including flights, trains, taxis/Uber, etc.
  • Travel insurance, to ensure personal items, flight costs, and other expenses are covered in case of an emergency
  • Health insurance that works where the student is living during their studies
  • Food not provided by the study abroad program
  • Tourism, including museum admissions, sightseeing, and other sources of entertainment

Students will want a little padding in their budget to cover discretionary costs. By planning ahead, students will feel empowered to enjoy their trip.

Actively manage funds

People tend to underestimate their spending or to conveniently forget about transactions they made on impulse. Those little purchases can really add up over the course of a semester.

Deploy and leverage the benefits of a financial institution’s mobile application to keep tabs on account moves, charges and changes on a regular basis, ideally on a daily basis.

Pay attention to fees

Pay attention to the fees that are charged to use your money while studying abroad.

People visiting with accounts based in another country may have to pay a foreign transaction fee on card purchases or an ATM fee each time cash is withdrawn.

Before traveling, inquire with the bank to see what fees can be anticipated, and learn about optimal credit and debit card options for the upcoming trip.

Send/receive money safely

Parents often use remittances to transfer money to their students studying abroad. While many institutions offer remittances, the safety and costs of these transactions can vary.

To protect yourself and your funds during these transactions, use a secure device (avoid publicly shared computers and open WiFi networks if possible) and a strong password.

Some remittance providers may even incorporate biometric technology, like face or fingerprint recognition, to provide an added layer of security for your transactions.

Families have access to tools to ensure the delivery of an efficient service with their funds.

For example, most services have transparent ways to check exchange rates and provide a pricing calculator to evaluate transactions before sending a remittance.

WorldRemit allows users to set up alerts in the mobile app so that they can take advantage of promotions or offers specific to the user’s home country or study destination.

Use credit only when necessary

Some students spend a semester abroad and return with a high credit card balance.

If a parent or family member is providing an allowance for travels, they can send a remittance to your account rather than have the student charge items to a credit card, then pay it off.

Remittance fees are far lower when compared to credit card interest rates, and therefore families will be able to utilise more of their money with this method.

For students considering studying abroad, this exciting opportunity can shape a person’s perception of the world, and open their eyes to new cultures, societies, and ways of life.

Getting smart about finances and knowing what options are available is the first lesson every student should learn before they even step foot on foreign territory.

Scott Eddington is the Asia Pacific Managing Director for WorldRemit. He is responsible for leading the development of WorldRemit’s send and receive network across the region to help deliver digital payment services into new geographies and help more customers make secure, convenient and affordable cross-border payments.