Investing in a Study Abroad Program

Do you ever wonder how people are paying to travel overseas for the summer, taking Instagram selfies from a white sandy beach, mimosa in hand? The answer is yes, you do. We all do.

They could very well be studying abroad. According to a 2016 Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange, nearly 1,044,000 students were international during the 2015-16 academic schoolyear; that’s a 7% increase from the previous year.

The average cost of tuition today, according to the College Board, is approximately $9,650 for in-state students and $24,930 of out-of-state students. The average cost of one semester of study abroad, according to the Institute of International Education, is approximately $17,785.

Wait, what?

You read that right. Paying out-of-state tuition can actually cost more than going international for the semester.

The Cost of Study Abroad

Let’s take a more relatable example and put it into perspective. The University of Missouri- Kansas City, located about 30 minutes from Lee’s Summit, has study abroad programs going all over the world. One specifically, for students wanting to learn Spanish, spends 6 weeks in Spain during the summer. Here are the estimated costs for 2017:

  • UMKC Tuition: $1,167
  • Program Fee: $4,300
  • Additional Expenses, including airfare and miscellaneous: $1,860
  • Total ESTIMATED cost: $7,330

The first week, students are taken on a 7-day, 5-city excursion through Spain to eat delicious Paella, drink Sangria (if you’re over 18, of course), and experience some of the most beautiful scenery that can’t be found in the United States.

The last destination on the excursion; Granada, Spain; where you will meet your new family for the next 5 weeks. Your first week can be spent exploring with other students, wondering the Spanish streets, dancing until 6 AM (or ‘seis de la mañana.’), or of course, learning Spanish outside of the classroom.

Weeks 3-6 are spent at the Universidad de Granada, a modern language school with students from all over the world. Morocco, Portugal, and London have become popular weekend destinations for many of the students at the university, as Spain is located between the 3 countries. During these 4 weeks, you’ll earn 9 credit hours. In 4 short weeks, you’ll be half way to earning a minor in Spanish (18 credit hours).

Are You Convinced that Studying Abroad is Worth the Investment Yet?

According to the UMKC website, a full semester (15 weeks), on campus, with 12 credit hours is $4,590.
Since this study abroad program is $7,330, you’ll be spending a little less than $3000 more to spend 6 weeks in Spain, half the amount of time in class, AND you’re constantly learning, inside and especially, outside the classroom.

Let’s also not forget, that total includes airfare, room and board, hotel stay, a week-long excursion, and any activities done as a group during that excursion.

Financially, it seems like a great investment, but how will I afford it?


The timing associated with studying abroad couldn’t be more perfect. College students have the most freedom and time than anyone.

Fresh out of your parents’ house + part-time job + flexible class schedule + summer break = the BEST time to travel, so you might as well earn some credit hours while you’re at it and enjoy the extended stay!
Oh, you’ll travel after college when you have a ‘real’ job and money? When is that?

After college, there may be some time after graduation to travel, but in reality, a job will be the next step.

No, this isn’t a job at the pizza shop downtown; this is a full-time - not enough vacation days – no summer break - ‘real’ job.

Don’t worry though; there will be plenty of time to travel still! If you plan your days right, you may get to fit in a 5-7 day vacation or even a couple out-of-town weekend trips!

The Intellectual Investment

Not to get all sappy here, but touching on the intellectual and emotional benefits from studying abroad is also what makes international study worth the investment.

According to a survey done by Smart Study, 95% of students said that it increased maturity and self-confidence, 98% of students said that study abroad helped them better understand cultural values and biases, and 75% of these students said that they acquired skill sets that influenced their career path.

For the cherry on top, guess who loves study abroad just as much as you? Employers and graduate school admissions. Those few extra lines on a resume could be what set you apart. 

There’s not ever going to be a spot to list your vacations on resume, so hopefully the cost, finance options, timing, and intellectual benefits have you convinced. If not, maybe a 5-day vacation that uses up 2 vacation days and half of your paycheck will.