In general terms, you should expect to pay for:
- Your accommodation
- Your travel expenses: to and from the host country and during your time abroad
- Any visa or immigration costs, including costs related to documents (official translations, notary/apostille)
- Your living expenses: food, toiletries, socialising, etc.
- Course-related expenses: books, stationery, membership of a student union, semester administration fees
- Medical or other welfare costs: prescriptions, dental treatment etc. (see below)
You should investigate these things carefully before you apply, particularly if you have a choice of destination. Your budget could be a deciding factor in your choices.
Advance planning will also help you to enjoy the time abroad fully and avoid unpleasant surprises.
Other costs to consider
You should bear in mind if you have any particular needs or preferences which might affect your costs while abroad. For example:
- If you have a food allergy or intolerance, will this affect the type of food you need to buy and how it’s prepared? Could this bring additional costs, e.g. needing to go to a specialist food store or not being able to use a university canteen?
- If you have a particular sport or hobby which you want to pursue while abroad, will this bring additional costs for participation, equipment, sports centre membership or insurance?
Financial evidence as part of a visa application
Most countries require that you show evidence that you can support yourself financially for the duration of your study abroad year. Without this evidence, they will not issue your student visa.
Students selected for the USA, Japan and Hong Kong should be prepared to provide this evidence at the point of formal application to the host university between January and April. In these cases, amounts are set by each individual university. You do not give the money to anyone, but have to show that you have access to that amount of money as proof that you can support yourself while you are in the country.
If you are considering doing a study placement in the US, it is essential that you choose universities whose financial guarantee fits your budget. The host universities cannot accept students who do not provide evidence of the specified guarantee amount.
Some countries expect you to show evidence of your financial support at the point of applying for the student visa. In these cases, the cost of living will be defined by the government of the country in question.
Read the Consulate/visa issuing authorities instructions carefully and make sure you have all the required documents in the specified format ready for your application/visa appointment. Complete your visa application in good time.
How to Show Evidence of Funds
- Please note that the figure you are asked to evidence will be a minimum amount - you should try and show access to as much money as you are able, as exchange rates can change on a daily basis and you may then find you have not shown access to enough funds.
- The easiest way to show evidence of funds is usually to provide bank statements which should be no older than three months, or a letter from the bank confirming the total amount of funds in the account on a given date. You can usually show statements from different bank accounts as necessary in order to meet the total required (e.g. current account, savings, Premium Bonds, ISA, etc.). However, the bank accounts must usually be ‘instant access’ and statements with the name of the account holder on the statement. Some universities/authorities require original copies. Check the application form/visa instructions to see what is required. Letters must be on headed paper, with a stamp if possible.
- Funds do not usually need to be in your own bank account. They could be from a parent, other relative or acquaintance. However, any funds not from your own account should normally be accompanied by an original signed letter from the account holder stipulating that they will support you financially during your study abroad year. This letter is for evidencing purposes; how you fund your study abroad year in practice will be your decision.
- It may be possible to use your student loan as evidence of funds but you need to apply to Student Finance early enough to receive your loan statement for next year in good time.
Be prepared for initial expenses for travel and accommodation, particularly if the academic year will start before your loan is due to be paid. Other exchange students are usually a good source of information about the best supermarkets, rail/bus passes etc.
You will need sufficient easily accessible funds during the first few weeks of your stay, to pay at least the first month’s rent, plus a deposit, and for food and travel expenses.
It is important to inform your bank that you will be spending the next academic year abroad. Failing to do this could result in your card or account being stopped as the bank might believe that your card/account is being used fraudulently.
Find out what the bank charges for withdrawing cash abroad and making transfers. If you use internet banking, check that you will be able to access this from your host country easily and securely.
Pre-paid travel currency cards or cash passports may be of use but investigate them carefully before signing up for them. It is never sensible to carry large amounts of cash.
Whether, and when, to open a bank account in your host country depends very much on individual circumstances.
If you decide to open an account, remember to take proof of identification and of your university registration, if applicable. You may also be required to pay some money in immediately. It can take some time for the account to be set up, so make sure you have accessible funds to tide you over.
Please note that in many European countries it is illegal to have an overdraft.
Costs related to medical care and support
All students are required to register for Kent's Travel and Personal Accident insurance before going abroad. Some countries/universities may also require exchange students to obtain local health insurance. This includes Germany and some US universities. Charges for this can vary, for example in the US the specified health insurance could be between $1,000-$3,000 per year.
Students with pre-existing medical or mental health conditions or disabilities should consider carefully any additional costs that may be incurred during the placement. Additional health insurance may be advisable, particularly for countries where medical costs can be very high.
EU nationals going to Europe are expected to register for the European Health Insurance Card and the University’s own insurance policy, but should make sure that they know what is covered for their condition and their host country.
If you are considering finding a part-time job while studying abroad, you must bear in mind the requirements of your study programme and the terms of your visa.
Within EU law, all residents of the EU have the right to seek employment in member countries, and do not require a work permit to do so. The only conditions that apply to this law are that you are in possession of a full passport from an EU member state.
Teaching English privately can be a good way to earn money; there is almost always a demand for native speakers to give lessons in English. Do not be afraid to ask for the going rate.
Safety when looking for employment
The following points are aimed at helping you to find a suitable job safely:
- Speak to friends or colleagues who may be able to give you useful advice or put you in touch with potential clients for language tutoring.
- If advertising, be very careful about the kind of advert you write: ask a native speaker to advise you on the wording and do not give your home address.
- Arrange to meet potential students/employers in a public place NOT your/their home.
- Take someone with you or give the meeting location/time and contact’s name to a friend.
- Dress smartly and behave in a businesslike way.
- Keep the conversation off personal/social topics.
- If you feel at all uncomfortable, excuse yourself politely and leave.
It is possible to do an extra-curricular internship as long as it complies with the terms of your visa and does not adversely affect your official placement. Please note that such placements are a private matter and the University of Kent cannot sign an internship agreement or convention for a private internship which runs concurrently with your official study or work placement.