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Studying Abroad Within Your Budget

The following information is designed to help students consider the financial aspects of studying abroad and develop a strategy for choosing a program that fits with their budget/financial resources.

This is THE most important way to make study abroad a reality for you. The cost of studying abroad really varies from program to program. Don’t ignore cost when making your decision! Talk to a Study Abroad Advisor to ensure that you have explored all of the possible program options, and remember that there is NOT a direct correlation between the cost of a program and the quality of your experience abroad.

  1. Compare CU costs to study abroad costs
  2. Consider location
  3. Consider exchange programs
  4. Consider short-term study abroad programs carefully
  5. CU-Boulder Best Semester Abroad Deals

1. Compare CU costs to study abroad costs

The posted costs for CU Study Abroad Programs are very comprehensive, including much more than just tuition and living costs. To compare your CU costs to study abroad costs, you need to know your comprehensive cost for a semester or year at CU. See below for estimates.

  CU cost (resident) CU cost (non-resident) San Jose, Costa Rica Prague, Czech Republic Semester at Sea
Total cost per semester ~ $12,500 ~ $24,000 $13,787 $16,116 $36,323

Above costs include tuition/fees, room & board, books, health insurance, personal expenses, communication costs, transportation (incl. airfare for study abroad) and more. The CU costs were taken from the Financial Aid webpage at

2. Consider location

Avoiding bigger cities can also help save thousands of dollars in some cases. While the biggest or most well-known city may seem like the most exciting choice to you, living elsewhere can save a lot of money and will still provide ample opportunities for social and cultural activities. Plus, with the money you save, you can still spend time in any larger cities that attract you.

Larger cities Mid-sized Cities
Paris = $26,998 Rennes, France= $23,029
Barcelona = $17,223 Salamanca, Spain = $15,677
London = $20,772 Norwich, England = $16,219
Buenos Aires = $17,514 Valparaiso, Chile = $15,607
Sydney = $27,798 Wollongong, Australia = $19,296
Tokyo, Japan = $31,453 Akita, Japan = $15,581

You may also wish to consider a program in a non-traditional location (such as Latin America or Asia), as some destinations within these regions have lower costs of living that can decrease the overall program cost.

3. Consider exchange programs

On exchange programs a CU-Boulder student pays the equivalent of CU-Boulder in-state tuition, saving you a size-able amount in instructional costs compared to many other programs. See the table below for examples of countries/regions where exchange programs can help you save!

Country/region Exchange program Non-exchange program
England $15,089 $19,917 - $30,742
Japan $15,581 $31,453
Scandinavia $15,425 (Sweden) $26,104 (Denmark)
Australia $18,503 $34,500
Middle East/N. Africa $15,965 (Egypt) $20,298 (Morocco)
France $14,642 $25,133

Admission as an exchange recipient can be competitive for certain programs. Talk to a CU Study Abroad Advisor to learn more about how exchange programs work, and the available opportunities around the world. Exchange program applicants should ALWAYS apply for a CU-Boulder scholarship if they hope to be seriously considered for an exchange position.

4. Consider short-term study abroad programs carefully

Summer study abroad programs may provide a more affordable option for some students since they cost less overall. However, long-term programs often provide more value per dollar spent, because you typically earn more credit hours on semester or year-long programs (see calculation below). Also, students often have less state/federal aid available for summer terms. Please see additional considerations below.

Consider the cost per credit-hour and cost per week:

$7,203 total cost (Prague summer) ÷ 6 weeks/credits = $1,200 per credit/week


$15,578 total cost (Prague semester) ÷ 15 weeks/credits = $1,038 per credit/week

In this scenario above, going for a semester is more economical in terms of cost per credit hour and per week.

Calculate the cost of a summer abroad on top of a regular semester in Boulder, and compare that to the cost of a semester abroad. Studying abroad for a summer can sometimes exceed the cost of a semester abroad when added to the cost of a typical semester at CU. See the table below for an example:

Total cost to study/live in Boulder for one semester (CO resident, off-campus) (incl. tuition/fees, books, room & board, personal expenses, medical & transportation) $12,500
Total cost, study abroad in Seville, Spain: 6-weeks summer (incl. same expenses as above plus airfare and add'l costs) $9,962
Total est. cost for semester at CU plus summer in Seville $22,462
Total est. cost for semester in Seville
(incl. same expenses as left plus airfare and add'l costs)

Note that this scenario may not always ring true. Simply keep this scenario in mind when considering summer programs, and be sure to calculate this for yourself.

Consider whether you rely upon a summer job to save money for the school year, and how studying abroad for a summer may impact your earnings. While you may also work during the regular school year, students typically work many more hours during the summer months and heavily rely upon summer earnings for the remainder of the year.


Consider whether you will have any remaining financial aid to use for summer. The summer term at CU-Boulder is considered the last term of the year. What that means for you is that if you use all your financial aid eligibility during the academic year (the previous Fall & Spring), you will not have any eligibility left for summer. See the Financial Aid webpage for more information about how this works.

Understand that there can be fewer scholarships available for summer study abroad. Some scholarships for study abroad exclude summer programs. Research your scholarship opportunities ahead of time to know if/how this may affect you.