Is Studying Abroad Worth the Expense?

By Eloise Cappelletti

In our increasingly globalized and interconnected world, studying abroad can be a particularly beneficial opportunity, according to a professor who runs study abroad programs at the University of Georgia.

“Any chance to go to a different culture and see how they do it is really eye-opening and valuable,” said Bynum Boley, a professor of parks, recreation, and tourism management. 

The value of a study abroad experience comes at a price and requires careful financial planning, Boley said. Beyond personal savings and budgeting, students can pursue different options to fund their trips including scholarships, grants, and loans, he added.

“There are different options, and it might not be as expensive as you think to study abroad,” he said.

Students are often able to apply their current financial aid packages towards study abroad trips. The HOPE Scholarship is a merit-based grant available to Georgia residents, funded by the Georgia Lottery for Education, according to the Georgia Student Finance Commission. 

“A nice thing about studying abroad from Georgia is that the HOPE Scholarship covers your tuition, especially if you’re doing it through a UGA study abroad trip,” said Boley.

Surprisingly, he said, this means studying abroad can be more affordable than a traditional on-campus education, especially for non-Georgia residents. Out-of-state students pay in-state tuition for credits taken abroad, significantly lowering costs. Additionally, HOPE and other scholarships apply to out-of-state students who are eligible.

Kevin Weisman, a UGA senior and New Jersey native, said he paid his lowest tuition costs while abroad.

“I was drawn in because the cost to enroll drops to the in-state tuition rate which makes it more affordable,” said Weisman, who found an in-person program in Barcelona, Spain, last summer. 

Brittany Andrieni, a Georgia resident who studied abroad during her sophomore year, said the length of her trip required careful financial planning.

“We were traveling for almost three months, so I knew I needed to budget,” said Andrieni.

In preparation for her trip abroad, Andrieni created an all-encompassing budget and worked as a babysitter to raise the money.

“I made an Excel sheet to keep track of extra expenses which were mostly for restaurants, going out, and some activities like a boating trip we planned,” said Andrieni, a senior finance major with a sustainability certificate. 

“Travel is always more expensive than you think, and you want to have a little more than your regular budget so you can enjoy yourself while you’re there,” said Boley, who recommends students account for unforeseen expenses in their study abroad budgets.

Unexpected travel costs caused Weisman to spend over his allocated budget.

“I planned to keep it under $2,000, but I didn’t include room for buying Covid tests which were 100 euros each time,” said Weisman.

Studying abroad comes at a price that varies based on the program; but the cost of not having an experience abroad remains the same and can limit employment opportunities. According to the Institute for the International Education of Students, a study abroad experience provides language proficiency, cross-cultural communication, adaptability, tolerance for ambiguity, and self-confidence – all valuable career skills.

“If you’re in a job interview, it’s helpful to say that you’ve been in challenging situations in different cultures – it shows you can work through challenges in their organization,” said Boley.

Upon graduation, Andrieni will be working as an analyst at Bank of America. 

“My trip inspired me to pursue a sustainability certificate and apply that knowledge to my finance major,” said Andrieni. “My job has various sustainability initiatives, so it’s been nice to have the study abroad to back my knowledge.” 

Eloise Cappelletti is a journalism student at the University of Georgia.

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