International Education | Articles
How to manage your finances as an international student
Being able to manage your finances is a major aspect of studying abroad. Many international students will have to learn how to handle their own finances for the first time, keeping up with bills and paying fees.
Trying to find the best way to pay for your fees while factoring in telegraphic transfer costs, bank charges and so on can be stressful! If you’re depending on your parents, you’ll also need to figure out the best way for them to send you money without spending a significant chunk on bank charges and fees.
Plus, keeping your money safe and secure, while also accessible, is a must to avoid getting scammed or robbed.
Managing your personal expenses can also be a challenge if you’ve never had to do it before. It can be overwhelming but with a little experience and guidance, you’ll soon be an independent individual who can manage your personal expenses alongside major finances like tuition fees and rental costs.
Here’s what to keep in mind when managing your finances while abroad:
Managing personal finances
If you’ll be managing a lump sum of money that’s meant to last the whole semester, it’s essential that you work out a monthly budget so you don’t overspend.
During the first semester, it may be difficult to figure out how much things cost, but you can always set a rough estimate and tweak it later.
If you’re not on a dining or meal plan at your residence hall, you’ll need to figure out how much should be spent on food and groceries and if it’s cheaper to cook at home more often.
After you’ve set a budget for your books and school supplies, groceries, rent, utilities and personal items, you’ll have an idea of how much you have leftover for non-essential items such as holidays and entertainment.
It’s also a good idea to keep a portion of your budget for savings, in case of emergencies. If you’re finding your budget a bit too tight, it’s a good indicator that you might need to look for a part-time job.
Many international students are also tempted to get a credit card, but whether or not you should depends on your personal situation.
It can be good to get one if you want to establish a line of credit, but you’ll need to be disciplined when it comes to making credit card payments so you don’t end up in heavy debt. Also, if you choose to get a credit card, compare different cards that you’re eligible for so you don’t pay unnecessary interest rates and annual fees.
If you need some help managing your student finances, these handy apps that can help you budget wisely.
Paying your tuition fees
Whether you’ll be paying your fees yourself or your parents (or other sponsor) will be doing it on your behalf, make sure you get that done by the due date.
After you’ve registered for your classes, you should be issued an invoice with the necessary breakdown of your fees (including meal plans, student association and lab fees, etc).
Make the payment early if you’re getting it paid from abroad so there won’t be any delay. You don’t want to pay unnecessary overdue fees or find yourself unable to attend classes because you haven’t paid your bill.
Check your university’s trusted payment partners and providers to make the process more seamless, as these are reliable and reputable providers. By using these, you can help ensure that your money will arrive safely and in a timely manner with no hidden charges.
Paying your rent
If you live off-campus, you will need to pay your rent yourself. Ensure your landlord or housing management office provides you with a lease.
Take note of the terms and conditions of the lease and be sure you can make the payments when they are due.
Some leases require you to make monthly payments while others are on a weekly basis. As for payment methods, some require a cheque while others will ask you to bank transfer to them directly.
Whatever the required payment method is, avoid paying any deposits or rentals in cash as this could mean the landlord is going through illegal means. If they ask for the rent in cash, it could be a warning sign and an indicator to look elsewhere for more reputable housing arrangements.
Apply for scholarships
Even if you didn’t get into your university on a scholarship, you may be eligible for one later on.
Many universities and departments award scholarships and stipends to international students who demonstrate academic excellence or are actively involved in the student community.
Even if it’s just a small amount, it can make a difference when you’re on a student budget. Plus, it will look great on your CV!