How to Study Abroad on a Limited Budget?


Samarpita Goswami
Updated on Aug 25, 2022 10:22 AM IST

Studying abroad is a costly affair, but there are ways in which you can reduce the cost of overseas education. Read the article to know the types of expenses, funding sources and tips to create a budget.

How to Study Abroad on a Limited Budget?

It is no wonder that the worlds best universities are also some of the costliest universities. For those of you who are looking forward to studying abroad, there is much to contemplate about apart from tuition fees there is rent, groceries, utilities and other miscellaneous expenses. On average, Indian students have to pay around INR 14.3 lakh to live in the USA, INR 14.9 lakh in Australia and INR 13.43 lakh to live in the UK per year.

In such a scenario, if you are on a tight budget and wish to cut down the cost of studying abroad, you have to adopt money-saving hacks wherever possible. Despite the high tuition fees of foreign universities, you do not have to burn a hole in your pockets as we will share with you how to make the most of students' experience out of your limited budget.

There are numerous ways to minimise your expenses even while studying at top foreign universities. The key point is to make a budget and stick to it. Let's dive right in!

Our study abroad experts have helped students to plan their budgets for overseas education.

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Types of Expenses to Study Abroad

Studying abroad can be a scintillating experience for any student but it is always tainted with the stress of financial constraints. Though studying abroad is expensive, you can still manage it on a tight budget. Before discussing the strategies to save expenditure or cut down costs, let us first look at the costs you have to bear when you study abroad:

  • Tuition Fees: This is the most important cost that a student has to bear. You will have to pay an annual tuition fee every year to the college or university you will be studying. Apart from that, there will be several other fees such as laboratory fees, administrative fees, library fees, etc which add up to the cost of studying abroad.

  • Accommodation Cost: Room and board are costly when you stay in a foreign country. You can choose on-campus or off-campus accommodation. The cost of renting a living place depends on the locality and quality of a place.

  • Health Insurance: It is imperative to get your healthcare covered as you will be staying in a foreign country for 2 to 4 years. Therefore, you have to purchase health insurance when you reach the country. Choose a plan that covers most of the healthcare costs.

  • Books and Stationeries: It is very well known that as you are studying abroad, you will have to spend money on buying books, course materials, equipment and gadgets related to the course. You will also have to purchase notebooks and other stationeries for daily use. Consider this cost while making a budget for studying abroad.

  • Food and Groceries: As a student, you need to eat healthy and nutritious food. Therefore the cheapest option is to cook meals on your own rather than eating out or opt for meal plans offered by universities along with accommodation. Plan your meal carefully so that you do not end up spending a lot of money on the food itself.

  • Utility Bills: You will have to pay your cell phone bill, internet bill, electricity bill, gas bill, laundry bill and the other services and utilities you take. Therefore, considering these costs is also important.

  • Transportation: The cost of transport includes your airfare as well as your daily travel to your university or work. It is a very important expense to be taken into account.

  • Miscellaneous Expenses: This will include recreational activities, movies, eating out, shopping, going out for drinks, etc. These expenses may be not required on a monthly basis but it is still an important part of budgeting.

Ways to Study Abroad on a Limited Budget

Studying abroad is expensive - You may have heard this phrase almost a zillion times. Living as an international student in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and other developed nations is a matter in itself. It is very important to know how to manage your money and how to cover the numerous expenses of studying abroad on a limited budget. Here are some tried and tested methods to lower the cost of your study abroad:

Admission to Need Blind Universities

Some top US universities do not consider the financial eligibility of students for giving them offer letters. Few universities extend these features to international students as well. Some need-blind schools pledge to extend financial support to all offer holders.

It does not ensure that you can study for free at these universities but your fees will be calculated based on your parent's income and your financial resources. Some of the popular universities where you can try for need-blind admissions are Yale University, Harvard University and Princeton University.

Scholarships and Grants

Academic scholarships and grants are popular ways in which you can save money and fund your education. Many governmental and non-governmental organisations provide scholarships. You can even get a scholarship from the university or the department in which you will be studying.

It is necessary that you apply for scholarships in all the possible institutions. The earlier you apply the better the chances of getting a scholarship. Avail top foreign scholarships that are reserved for minorities, genders and specific areas of study such as STEM scholarships. Some famous scholarships are GREAT Scholarships and Inlaks Shivdasani scholarships.


If you are applying for higher studies after master's or PhD, you can apply for fellowships that assist you with your research. They can be provided by universities, governments or other organisations.

It generally consists of a monthly stipend to aid your research studies. You can earn through your sponsorship and there is less financial burden on you. Some popular fellowships are DAAD Research Fellowships and Fullbright Nehru Postdoctoral Fellowships.

Study at Public Universities

The tuition fees in public universities are comparatively cheaper than that of private universities. In the USA, state-owned universities have low tuition fees for international students whereas, in Germany, you can study a majority of courses for free or with minimal tuition fees in public universities.

However, before plunging into public universities, compare the scholarship opportunities and calculate the cost of education.

Work Part-Time Jobs

Most countries allow students to work part-time for 20 hours a week during the academic session and full-time during the holidays. Australia has even removed the cap on the number of hours you can work.

Therefore, part-time jobs are an excellent opportunity to earn extra cents and cover daily expenses. You also get the opportunity to build your resume by working part-time and gaining industry exposure.

Education Loans

There are student loans available for Indian students who wish to study abroad. Taking a loan can be highly risky and challenging, requiring numerous paperwork and a load on the head.

In such cases, you must remember that it is worth the investment. With your foreign degree, you can get a good job and repay your loan gradually. Taking a loan should be your last resort if you cannot manage your finances with the support of your parents or from scholarships.

Make a Budget

Yes, you heard it right. To study abroad on your limited budget, you need to make a budget. Make good use of spreadsheets to write down your debits and credits.

Budgeting is something that helps you to strike a balance and help you stay afloat. You have to take little effort to track your expenses but once you do it's absolutely worth it.

Cheapest Countries to Study Abroad

While the financial pressure can crush the dreams of many students to study abroad, there are countries that offer free education or education at a low cost. This might seem like a dream come true but you must remember that free education does not mean that the entire education is free. Your tuition fee will be free and you may have to pay administrative fees and other expenses. Below is a list of countries and universities that offer free education or cheap education to international as well as Indian students:


Top Universities


Technical University of Munich,

Humbolt University of Berlin,

Free University of Berlin


Sorbonne University,

Universite de Paris,

University PSL


Linkoping University,

Linnaeus University,

Orebro University


Nord University,

Oslo Metropolitan University,

University of Bergen


FH Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences,

University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences,

University of Vienna

Tips to Create Your Study Abroad Budget

The knowledge of money management is a must when you are on a limited budget. While we have already stressed the importance of budgeting to manage your finances, here are some money hacks for you:

  • Avoid Staying in Large Cities: While planning to study abroad, choose cities or towns where the cost of living is low. Avoid living in big cities like London or New York. The smaller cities are more cost-effective.

  • Use Public Transport: Instead of taxi or cabs, use public transport like buses, metros and trains. You can even purchase a bicycle or walk to travel short distances. It is good for health and pocket.

  • Student Discounts: Always carry your student ID card wherever you go. You may find some discounts if you show it. Never hesitate to show them and ask for discounts on transportation, stores, books, coffees, entertainment and what not.

  • Socialise with Locals: The locals have more knowledge of cheap places to buy food and know the tips and tricks to survive in the city. So make friends with the domestic students as soon as you land.

  • Open a Bank Account: This is very necessary to save a lot of transfer charges and international fees. You can also ask your bank if they have sister concerns in the country of your study to avoid paying hefty charges.

  • Check Local Deals: You can get discounts on groceries, restaurants and entertainment. Buy stuff when they are on discount. You can eat out in a similar way.

  • Share Your Stuff: Sharing is caring but sharing is also saving. You may have a group of friends to do activities together and share expenses and in this way, you can end up saving a lot of money. You can cook your meals together or share your apartment and share utility bills.

To remain on a budget it is important to use all the free resources available to you. It also means not to deprive yourself of the extreme. You can indulge yourself occasionally with a treat and entertainment. Getting to study on a limited budget can be a creative challenge for you which will prepare you for your future days.

If you have any queries related to the financial aspect or any other aspect of studying abroad write to us at

Find a Cheap University to Study Abroad!


What should be included in study abroad budget template?

The things that should be included in your study abroad budget template are:

Pre-arrival Expenses: Passport, visa, flight tickets and health insurance.

University Expenses: Program application fees, course fees and room and board costs.

Expenses while Studying: Local transport, meals, daily living, textbooks and additional spending.

Can I study abroad on a low budget?

Yes, you can study abroad on a low budget. The trick is to find out the sources of funding for your education and the ways to curtail cost while studying overseas. Moreover, there are numerous universities abroad that charge very nominal tuition fees or do not charge tuition fees at all.

What should be the budget for study abroad?

The budget for studying abroad depends on the country in which you are going to study and also the university and its location. Your budget will be more if you choose a top private university and live in the city. You must include all kinds of costs that you may need to incur while making the study abroad budget.

Can I study abroad with INR 5 lakhs per year?

Yes, you can study abroad with INR 5 lakh if you enrol in a university that charges nominal fees. Apart from that, you need to stay in shared apartments so as to curtail the cost of accommodation. You will also have to do your own chores so that you don't spend extra money here and there.

Which countries provide free education to students?

The countries that provide free education to students are Germany, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Belgium and the Czech Republic. The public universities in these countries provide cheap education to students and you may need to pay only charges related to administration. Also, they provide loans, grants, scholarships and fee waivers to students.

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