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Education Abroad Costs

Before you begin looking at education abroad programs, calculate your current expenses to get an idea of your budget.

  • Compare ALL of your current costs to come to MSU for a semester. Include tuition, books, food, housing, transportation, school supplies, and daily incidentals.
  • If you receive financial aid, calculate how much you receive to pay for the semester.
    • Deduct this amount from the costs you just calculated to come to MSU. This will give you the out of pocket costs you have each semester.
  • If you work during the semester to help pay for school, calculate how much you earn each semester.
    • Please remember, you will more than likely be unable to work while you are abroad because your visa will not allow this or the cost to get a work visa is more expensive then what you would make

Also see the Cost Worksheet.

Evaluate the features and costs of various programs to find the best match for your needs and interests.

Below are various factors that influence the total cost of participating on a education abroad program:


  • Big City vs. Smaller Town: Large cities or country capitals can automatically drive up the cost of living (i.e. New York City vs. East Lansing). If the cost is an issue, you might want to consider a smaller city or town.
  • Exchange Rates: Places where the value of the dollar is higher means that your money can stretch farther, lowering your everyday cost of living.

Credit Hours

  • The cost benefit of a program must take the number of credits that can be taken in that location into consideration. You can divide the number of credits that you can take by the cost to help compare programs.

Timing and length of program

  • Research your intended study abroad location to find out when the peak travel season takes place because cost will increase significantly during that period.
  • The time of year in which you choose to study can also have an impact on the financial aid you may be eligible to receive. 

International airfare and on-site transportation

  • Airfare will vary widely depending on your destination, check prices for the time of year you wanted to go abroad.
  • Keep in mind the daily transportation in your country, such as rail passes, taxi fares, and bus tickets that may be required for travel.

Items and activities included in the program fee

  • Know what your program fee covers and what it does not. Each program will have a budget and an itemization of what is included. Not all programs include the same activities or services.
  • Additional costs (on top of the program fee) normally include airfare, tuition and fees, books, immunizations, passports/visa and spending money.

Type of program

  • Explore all of your options! Come to the Education Abroad Advising Center or do a Program Search on our website to learn about all of the programs available.
  • The type of program you choose can play a significant role in how much it costs. However, there are benefits that may outweigh cost factors when choosing the right option for your needs.

Costs and billing will vary for different program types, but most times you should budget for the following three items:

1. PROGRAM FEE - Billed to your student account; typically includes lodging, varying numbers of meals, field trips/social activities, orientation, and international health insurance

2. TUITION - Billed to your student account (in addition to the Program Fee) based on the number of credits you enroll for in your education abroad program

3. OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES - Costs not included in your program fee but might be needed to pay out-of-pocket both prior to departure (passport, flight, etc.) and onsite (meals, travel, etc.); these are only estimates and will not billed to your student account

Costs for each program are detailed in the Costs tab in the Education Abroad Program Search.

Make sure you are aware of Refund Policies if you have to withdraw from a program.

Withdrawing from a program, especially close to departure, can have significant financial impacts.