How Much to Budget for an Overseas Education
Dreaming of international education? You’re not alone. As the world becomes increasingly globalised, many students seize the opportunity to study overseas, whether for a full-term or semester-long programme.
But before jetting off to your study destination, the financial planning needed to kickstart this new chapter is always at the top of mind for many individuals. Fret not, for we’ve got you covered. In this article, we explore the various expenses students must budget.
How Much Does It Cost to Study Overseas?
The world is your playground, and having a valid passport is the key to unlocking it. As you plan your overseas adventures, always ensure your passport is valid for at least six months before departure. Additionally, it is worth noting that certain countries can have specific requirements regarding passport validity dates.
For instance, South Korea requires visitors to have a minimum passport validity period of six months after their departure, while New Zealand requires a minimum validity of one to three months, depending on your nationality. To avoid any issues, always research the requirements of the country you intend to study in.
If you need to apply for a passport with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), the following fees apply:
- Application fee: S$70.
- Passport photo: From S$8.
2. Student Visa
While a tourist visa that allows for entry of up to 90 days may suffice when you study in countries like Japan, a student visa may be required for other regions. Here are the application fees to note for some popular overseas study destinations:
- £363 when you apply for a student visa outside of the UK.
- £490 if you extend or switch to a student visa in the UK.
- US$160 when you apply for a student visa outside of the US.
- US$805 when you switch to a student visa within the US via the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; OR
- US$510 when you switch to a student visa within the US via consular processing.
- New Zealand:
- From NZ$375 when you apply outside of New Zealand.
- NZ$410 when you apply within New Zealand.
- From A$650, regardless of whether you apply within or outside of Australia.
- South Korea:
- S$143 for a single-entry visa with a duration under 90 days.
- S$172 for a single-entry visa with a duration above 90 days.
- S$185 for a double-entry visa with a duration of six months.
- S$224 for a multiple-entry visa with a duration from one to five years.
- ₩30,000 for a separate Residence Card application in South Korea (mandatory for duration above 90 days).
- JP¥3,000 for a single-entry visa application in Singapore.
- JP¥6,000 for a multiple-entry visa application in Singapore.
- JP¥150,000 for change of visa status in Japan.
- S$86 for a single-entry visa application in Singapore.
- NT$2,200 for a single-entry visa application in Taiwan.
- NT$4,400 for a multiple-entry visa application in Taiwan.
3. Student Accommodation
Many universities offer students on-campus housing that is typically more affordably priced. However, with the limited spots available, it is advisable to apply early to secure your unit. If you opt for off-campus accommodations, the cost can vary greatly depending on the country you study in, and below is a comparison of the estimated costs:
|Country||Type of Student Accomodation|
Outside of the City Centre: About £903.83/month
City Centre: About £701.10/month
WIFI: About £30.13/month
Utilities: £40 – £45/month
East Coast: US$3,000 – US$8,000/month
West Coast: US$1,400 – US$2,500/month
Central Coast: US$1,100 –US$2,500/month
North Coast: US$1,000 – US$2,500/month
South Coast: US$1,000 – US$2,000/month
Outside of the City Centre: About US$1,375.64/month
City Centre: About US$1,696.38/month
WIFI: About US$69.87/month
Utilities: About US$200/month
|New Zealand||NZ$1,200 – NZ$1,600/month|
Outside of the City Centre: About NZ$1,546.94/month
City Centre: About NZ$1,834.65/month
WIFI: About NZ$85.03/month
Utilities: NZ$100 – NZ$240/month
A$440 – A$1,100/month
Outside of the City Centre: About A$1,769.61/month
City Centre: About A$2,267.14/month
WIFI: About A$84.43/month
Utilities: About A$200/month
|South Korea||₩500,000 – ₩1,600,000/semester|
Outside of the City Centre: About ₩477,138.79/month
City Centre: About ₩658,490.75/month
WIFI: About ₩28,169.77/month
Utilities: ₩30,000 – ₩50,000/month
Outside of the City Centre: About ¥59,568.68/month
City Centre: About ¥93,580.07/month
WIFI: About ¥4,800.87/month
Utilities: About ¥10,000/month
Outside of the City Centre: About NT$9,685.52/month
City Centre: NT$13,484.50/month
WIFI: From NT$200/month with an installation fee of NT$1,500
*Off-campus accomodations calculated based on the average rental for a one-bedroom apartment
Before finalising your accommodation, it is good practice to check if other miscellaneous fees are included in your housing package to avoid unwanted surprises, and here is a checklist of fees that you may find useful:
- Food and entertainment.
- Security deposit for your accommodation, especially for countries like Korea and Japan.
- Council tax and utilities.
- Internet subscription.
4. Transport and Student Pass
Unless your university offers a shuttle service to and from your accommodation, you will need to take public transport, and some countries have student passes with discounted fares. Depending on where you study overseas, you can expect the following fees:
Rail: A 16-25 student railcard costs £30. This pass entitles you to a 30% discount.
London transport system: Students can get an 18+ Student Oyster Photocard by paying a refundable deposit of £5. This pass entitles you to a 30% discount on adult-rate travelcards and bus and tram season passes as follows:
Estimated expenses: About £140/month.
Bus: Students can get a monthly bus pass, which costs between US$40 and US$100.
Estimated expenses: About US$100/month.
Transport cards: Can be purchased for NZ$5 – NZ$10.
Estimated expenses: NZ$160/month.
Metro, train, bus, and light rail: Your fare will not exceed A$16.80/day, A$50/week and A$8.40 on weekends and public holidays.
Estimated expenses: A$120 – A$240/month.
Bus and subway: A T-money card costs about ₩2,500, and fares charged on this card average at ₩1,300.
Estimated expenses: ₩70,000 – ₩110,000/month.
Metro: Fares range from ¥180 to ¥330.
Estimated expenses: About ¥5,000/month.
Taipei Metro, Danhai LRT, Ankeng LRT, bus, and YouBike:
Estimated expenses: NT$1,500/month.
5. Tuition Fee
If you are on a study exchange programme under a university in Singapore, you are likely to continue paying the same tuition fees to your current university. But if you are pursuing a full-term degree overseas, the tuition fees charged for undergraduates can vary as follows:
- UK: About £10,000 – £26,000/year.
- US: About US$8,000 – US$35,000/year.
- New Zealand: About NZ$22,000 – NZ$32,000/year.
- Australia: About A$20,000 – A$45,000/year.
- South Korea: About ₩13,00,000/year.
- Japan: About ¥535,800 – ¥927,705/year.
- Taiwan: About NT$51,000 – NT$78,000/year.
6. Cost of Living
Pursuing an education overseas is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture. With that comes the temptation to explore everything that the country has to offer. But indulging in these experiences can quickly take a toll on our budgets. To help you with budgeting for your study abroad trip, we’ve broken down the estimated costs of food and entertainment:
|Food||Drinks||Apparel||Sports and Entertainment||Estimated monthly Total|
£5.20 – £25
£0.50 – £10.50
£15 – £100
£5 – £60
Food & drinks:
|US||US$8 – US$50|
US$1 – US$10
US$20 – US$120
|US$10 – US$110.75|
Food & drinks:
|New Zealand||NZ$12 – NZ$45||NZ$2 – NZ$25|
NZ$35 – NZ$229
NZ$12 – NZ$115
Food & drinks:
A$12 – A$50
A$2.50 – A$29
A$30 – A$250
A$12 – A$135
Food & drinks:
Apparel: A$183 – A$292
Recreation: A$320 – A$600
₩6,000 – ₩13,000
₩600 – ₩36,000
₩10,000 – ₩150,000
₩10,000 – ₩120,000
Food & drinks:
Recreation: ₩180,000 – ₩250,000
¥648 – ¥1,500
¥84 – ¥2,000
¥2,500 – ¥12,000
¥1,000 – ¥12,000
Food & drinks:
NT$80 – NT$250
NT$20 – NT$800
NT$500 – NT$4,390
NT$200 – NT$1,500
Food & drinks:
7. Health, Study and Travel Insurance
When pursuing an overseas education, an insurance plan is often mandatory. However, even if it’s not required, it’s worth considering purchasing travel insurance to cover unforeseen events and help you avoid astronomical bills in areas like medical care.
If you are studying abroad for an extended period, opt for a specialised insurance policy such as Income’s Overseas Study Protection Plan1. Designed to provide protection against personal accidents and outpatient medical expenses2 during your studies, it enables you to continue your education with minimal worries about the financial implications.
Tips to Study Overseas on a Budget
Ultimately, the amount to budget when you decide to study abroad varies based on the priority you allocate to each cost component. While an education overseas can be costly, don’t be discouraged, for there are ways to make it more affordable, and here are some tips on how to do so:
1. Browse Applicable Financial Aid
Various financial aid options are available to help students interested in furthering their education abroad to offset the cost of their overseas tuition fees. For instance, local universities like Nanyang Technological University (NTU) offer the Ng Bok Eng Scholarship and OSP loans for NTU students looking to participate in semester-long programmes.
Meanwhile, countries like Korea offer the Global Korea Scholarship for Undergraduate Degrees (GSK-U), which covers almost the full cost of your education in Korea. By performing thorough research and applying for these schemes early, you can increase your chances of reducing out-of-pocket expenses when you study abroad.
2. Explore Cheaper Student Accommodation and Food Options
If you are unable to obtain affordable on-campus accommodation, you can also share an apartment with other study abroad students instead of renting an entire apartment alone. Staying with a host family is also a good choice, and it comes with the added benefit of a more immersive cultural experience.
Opting for dormitory meal-inclusion plans or preparing your meals instead of dining out can be another way to save money. Specifically, in countries like Korea, certain universities and housing options like Goshiwon also offer free food like rice, instant noodles, kimchi and bread. Taking advantage of these benefits can go a long way in reducing your expenses.
3. Find Free or Affordable Entertainment Options
Having fun doesn’t always have to be expensive! In fact, there are also plenty of free activities that you can do to have a good time. For instance, you can spend a day on the beaches in Australia with fellow study abroad friends or enjoy a picnic by the Han River in Korea. Alternatively, you can also enjoy a good bike ride in places like Taiwan, which enables you to keep fit while saving on your transport as you explore the city.
4. Keep Track of Expenses
A budget is essential to help you manage your money, especially when you study overseas. If you dread spreadsheets, financial planning apps can take care of the hard work for you. Additionally, don’t be vague when planning your study budget.
Instead, grill yourself about your spending habits to eliminate unnecessary expenses and create a realistic financial plan. If you plan to pursue your education in a country with a higher cost of living like the UK, you should also expect an adjustment to your lifestyle to keep your spending within your means.
5. Get Value-for-Money Travel Insurance
With the hefty price tag that comes with pursuing your education abroad, cutting down expenses in different aspects of your spending without sacrificing quality can be challenging. When it comes to insurance, Income Insurance’s Overseas Study Protection Plan offers a way for you to do just that while continuing to benefit from robust coverage. Some of the protection included in the insurance plan include:
- 24-hour worldwide1 protection against personal accidents and outpatient medical expenses during your overseas studies2.
- Up to S$250,0003 coverage against accidental death and accidental permanent disability.
- Up to S$20,0003 coverage for overseas medical expenses due to injury.
- Up to S$3,0003 for alternative housing if your overseas residence is uninhabitable due to the loss or damage resulting from fire or natural disasters.
With optional add-ons like the Overseas Medical Expenses rider and Trip Protect rider, you can obtain further coverage for Covid-194 and travel inconveniences. By investing in a specialised plan like the Overseas Study Protection Plan, you can breathe easy and focus on the joys of your overseas studies.