Weber: Skip the fees: How to study abroad debt-free

November 28, 2018

One of the biggest obstacles of deciding whether to studying abroad is the fact it comes with a high price tag. But with some research, strategic planning and hard work, you could study abroad debt-free.


Summer jobs, scholarships, grants and program choice all play a vital role in being able to afford this kind of once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Researching plays a significant role in studying abroad debt-free, making it one of the most important steps.


Early in your college career, you need to decide if studying abroad is what you want to do. Research the programs offered at your school and find the one that fits you best.


In my last article “The Five W’s of Studying Abroad,” I discussed  the difference between a study abroad program and an exchange program in detail.


The biggest difference between the two is what money can be used to pay for them. If money is an issue for you, as it is for many students, an exchange program might be the best option.


When participating in an exchange program here at the University of Toledo, you are still enrolled in classes at UT, allowing financial aid to still apply while abroad.


This allows the tuition to stay consistent with what you are used to and lets excess funds get refunded to pay for other expenses, such as housing and food.


Choosing an exchange program route instead of studying abroad allows the cost to be much less than most people assume.


If other funds are needed for studying abroad, don’t worry: There are many other options to finance the year abroad.


One of the hardest options, and one which requires the most sacrifice, is to work a job. Whether it is a full-time summer job or part-time job during school, work as hard as you can.


The biggest tip I could give you is not settling for a minimum wage job. The work conditions might not be pleasant, and you might work undesirable hours, but you make hundreds more every month by working at places such as factories or landscaping businesses.


If you do find yourself working a minimum wage job, try to pick up side jobs that require low commitment and hours, but have high pay for the time required. Following these tips and having a good work ethic will allow you to easily make a few thousand dollars over the year.  

Although getting a good-paying job might be the hardest option, there are other ways to afford a year abroad.


The best way to make “free” money and study abroad debt-free is to take advantage of as many scholarships and grants as possible.


I would begin by looking at the scholarships and grants available only to students at your home university.


Here at UT, there are a couple available, such as the travel grant from the Center for International Studies and Programs. If your application is successful, you will be awarded a grant of a varying amount to use toward your travel expenses.


If you want more opportunities for scholarships and grants, a quick Google search will help. Do this with caution. Only apply to trusted sources, and specifically, try to stick with government websites.


There are many government scholarships that are offered nationally for studying abroad. These kinds of scholarships are harder to get but can be worth the most amount of money, such as the Gilman Scholarship, worth up to $5,000.


I would highly recommend you take the time to apply to as many scholarships and grants you are eligible for; you could study abroad debt-free.


If you have any questions or comments about studying abroad, feel free to reach out to me at


Skyler Weber is a third-year student majoring in biochemistry with a minor in biology.


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