Fund Your Study Abroad 

The cost of studying abroad can vary based on the program you choose, where you go, and what your personal spending habits are. This section outlines many of the financial considerations of studying abroad, including program costs, available funding options and eligibility, creating a budget, and managing expenses. 

Programs and Costs 

Study abroad program costs vary depending on type, length, timing, location, and applicable program fees. It is important to research different program options to find the ones that are a good fit for you financially. Review the Budgeting & Planning section, complete a budget worksheet and consider all costs related to your study abroad.    

Understand your program and what fees to expect prior to and during your study abroad. When researching program options, double check if there are any particularities regarding tuition and fees (e.g., payment method, funding eligibility) under the Costs and Funding section for the specific program. 

Please refer to the table below for a quick overview of the types of study abroad programs SFU offers. Connect with SFU Financial Aid and Awards to discuss your options.

Please refer to the table below for a quick overview of the types of study abroad programs SFU offers. Connect with SFU Financial Aid and Awards to discuss your options. 

  Exchange Short-Term Summer Program Virtual Exchange Field School
Length Medium to Long term (1-2 terms) Short to Medium (1-10 weeks) Varies Short to Medium (1-10 weeks)
Costs Varies (based on location) Low – Medium Low Varies (based on program length and location)
Tuition and Fees Paid to SFU with the exception of Direct Fee-Paying programs. Paid to SFU with the exception of Direct Fee-Paying programs. Paid to SFU with the exception for Direct Fee-Paying programs. Paid to SFU.
Funding Refer to the Exchange Funding Eligibility Chart. Part-time programs, on their own may not make you eligible for awards, scholarships and bursaries through SFU. Not eligible for study abroad specific funding. You may be eligible for general loans, scholarships, awards and bursaries.   Refer to the Field School Funding Eligibility Chart.
Complexity of Student Planning and Organization High High Low Low

Lower cost options, due to shorter duration such as a Short-Term Summer Program taking less time off work, reducing forgone income while abroad. Review funding guidelines as these short-term programs may not be eligible for funding (e.g., awards, scholarships, and bursaries).

Another option to consider is a Virtual Exchange. Virtual Exchanges allow you to internationalize your degree and resume, without the cost of travel.

Funding Options and Eligibility

The Funding Eligibility charts for undergraduate students can be downloaded to navigate your funding options, eligibility, selection criteria, general application timing and funding disbursement. 

Book a Study Abroad advising appointment for questions regarding the charts above.

Graduate students can consult the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies office regarding scholarships and awards and SFU Financial Aid and Awards for inquiries regarding bursaries and and government-issued student financial assistance, including loans and grants.

Want to fund your study abroad?

Here are some opportunities to consider:

Review the Financial Aid and Awards (FAA) Exchange and Field School page for guidance and resources from FAA for students participating in study abroad programs. If you have questions about scholarships, awards, and bursaries contact a Financial Aid and Awards Advisor.

Supplemental Income Abroad

If it is legal to do so, consider part-time work abroad to fund your study abroad. 

Exchange programs: Research the host country’s Consulate, Embassy, High Commission to see if your host destination may allow you to work on a study permit. If permitted, apply for appropriate documentation to work legally in your host location. 

Tip: Avoid overloading your schedule between studies and work so that you can make the most of your study abroad experience. 

Budgeting and Planning

Once you have considered your funding resources, plan your budget carefully and find practical ways to stick to it. Your spending abroad will be influenced by many variables, including the local economy, the currency exchange rate, program coverage/costs, personal spending habits, and travel plans. 

Learn How Much Things Cost

  • Research the cost of living in your chosen destination to estimate your expenses more accurately to keep you safe and in control of your personal finances while abroad.
  • Use the Budget Planning Worksheet, to determine your "Estimated Costs" of studying abroad, including pre-departure expenses. Budget for additional expenses that may arise due to unforeseeable emergency circumstances. For more information about understanding your personal finances regarding budgeting, receiving funding, and banking abroad check out the video on Personal Finances. 
  • Refer to the Exchange Student Reports and Questionnaires provide useful information from previous exchange students about the costs associated with specific exchange institutions and regions.
  • Research costs by reviewing multiple sources such as cost of living databases Numbeo and Expatistan as guides. 
  • Compare costs in a foreign currency by using a currency converter to determine the costs in Canadian dollars (CAD).

If your exchange program spans over two SFU terms, you may be required to take a term off due to overlapping term dates between the host institution and SFU. To avoid this, look for programs with term dates that align with SFU’s. You can find the term dates for each program on the program pages in the Study Abroad System.

Plan Your Budget

Use the Budget Planning Worksheet to determine your "Estimated Funds" for your study abroad, considering savings, employment income, awards, and more. Make sure your estimated funds cover your estimated costs. If needed, consider adjusting variable expenses (e.g., personal purchases, entertainment, food, etc.) to balance priorities to make specific plans to implement changes. 

Explore tools and templates such as spreadsheets, websites, and mobile apps to help you build and keep track of your budget. Consider using software like Microsoft Excel, where you can use the formula bar to perform automatic calculations, allowing you to update and tailor your budget while keeping your information private and off the internet. Free online templates such as the My MoneyCoach Student Budget Calculator Worksheet are downloadable online. Look for free and secure budgeting software for students.

Find more information and tips on budget management and tools, through the free Canvas course MyFinances 101, for SFU students.

Questions & Considerations

  • What is the cost of living and transportation in your study abroad location? Are there comparable program options in other countries/regions with lower living costs?
  • If you are renting an apartment in the Lower Mainland, are you able to sublet it while you study abroad to help cover some of your costs?
  • Check out the Study Abroad Funding Charts. Which of these funding options are you eligible to apply for? See Financial Aid and Awards if you are unsure. 
  • If you are going on an exchange, are you able to work while studying abroad? Will you require any additional immigration or other documents? Note that students are not able to work when participating in a field school.
  • If you have a job, will you be able to get time off work to study abroad and maintain your job for when you return?
  • Do you have savings you can tap into while you’re abroad? Are you able to get funding from family while you’re abroad?