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Finances &
for Study Abroad

Creating a Budget

In addition to researching financial aid, scholarships, and other means of funding your study abroad, an important part of your financial preparation is creating a budget.

What to consider

Before you start breaking down your study abroad budget, you should know how much money you will need for the duration of the trip. Whether you’re funding the trip on your own, or with the help of others, knowing your total budget will make it much easier to itemize expenses.

Consider additional incidental costs when budgeting for your study abroad program, including:

  • Flight
  • Insurance
  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Traveling and personal expenses

Make personal savings where possible to create a cushion. You may not need substantial extra savings, but even a relatively small amount can help in defraying the costs and providing more peace of mind.

Budget sheet

Use this customizable Budget Sheet to help you estimate your study abroad costs.

Cost of attendance estimates

It is important to understand the estimated cost of attendance (COA) at SDSU for comparison. The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships posts the official cost of attendance. Do you personally pay more or less than the COA average in an academic year? That is an important consideration when reasonably comparing costs for study abroad.

Most semester and academic year study abroad programs require that you pay SDSU full-time tuition and fees for each semester abroad. Keep in mind that living in San Diego costs more than even the U.S. national average, so many international destinations may seem more affordable by comparison.

Purchasing power

When you're trying to decide between different programs, consider the relative purchasing power in each host destination based on exchange rates and living costs. Students are often surprised by the vast difference between international currencies. As you create an expense list and budget, see what it converts to in the local currency. There are various online currency converters that help you to do this with amazing accuracy.

Currency Converters include:

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Program budgets

Many program profiles in the Aztecs Abroad database have an estimated program budget, which you can review and further discuss budgeting with your Study Abroad Advisor.

Financial aid

Schedule an appointment with the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships to discuss how your financial aid awards apply to your study abroad program.


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Wants vs. Needs

Keep in mind that you will need to budget both for "needs" (necessities) such as lodging and food – and for “wants” (optional items) such as additional travel, entertainment, and souvenirs.  Be sure to consider this balance and how flexible your individual financial situation may be.  Set aside personal savings, where possible, to create a cushion for unexpected expenses.

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