Same Destination, Different Study Abroad Program

A budget hack for the cross-cultural nerd

It’s no secret that studying abroad costs—big time. The average cost of a semester abroad at the University of Minnesota is $15,000 (as opposed to the typical $10,000 tuition), and that’s not including personal expenses such as the flight, food, occasional indulgences, and outside excursions. To make a semester, year, or summer abroad affordable for the average student, one has to take a few liberties with the system.

Illustrator: Taylor Daniels

Illustrator: Taylor Daniels

Exploring the University’s study abroad programs can be discouraging. Many programs cost up to $5,000 more than the typical semester back home. Keep in mind that if you already receive financial aid, it will travel with you, deducting from your study abroad charges. Even with these deductions, programs such as Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) and Institute for the International Education of Students (IES Abroad) can still prove too costly for students.

If you’re looking to practice your French or Spanish, the affiliated program National Student Exchange (NSE) is a good choice, as it can take you to Canada or Puerto Rico. With NSE, you pay either University tuition or your host university’s tuition, depending on your circumstances. (Spoiler: Your host university will cost way less). The University’s Learning Abroad Center has also recently enumerated all their study abroad programs that cost within 10 percent of regular University tuition, including programs in Morocco, Venezuela, and Norway.

Most affiliated programs are generally very expensive, making unaffiliated programs a better option for students on a budget. Studying abroad with an unaffiliated program can seem daunting (affiliated programs guarantee a minimum credit transfer, while unaffiliated programs must be appraised and approved post-study abroad), but if you research your organization, chances are good that you’ll get the credits you need.

Most affiliated programs are generally very expensive, making unaffiliated programs a better option for students on a budget.

Another excellent unaffiliated program to study with is the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC), which is world-renowned, costs only about $10,000 a semester, and offers programs in Latin America, Asia, and Europe.

Contact the Office of International Admissions (located in 240 Williamson Hall) to discuss possible credit transfers. To get credit for a semester abroad with an unaffiliated program, you will have to go through International Admissions.

Studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that should be available to more than the few students who can afford the extra costs. Although the most popular programs cost enormous amounts, by exploring the plethora of options available, you can undoubtedly find a fulfilling, wallet-savvy program that fits you perfectly—as long as you’re willing to think outside of the (affiliated program) box.