Budgeting Tips and How to Afford Studying Abroad

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By: Carolyn Schwartz

Studying abroad in Rome can be a life-changing experience, but it's essential to plan your budget wisely to make the most of your time there. Here are some budgeting tips and ideas from me, a student who had to make a plan on how to afford studying abroad in Rome:

1. Create a Detailed Budget:

  • Start by creating a comprehensive budget that includes all your expected expenses, such as tuition, accommodation, meals, transportation, books, and personal spending money. 2. Scholarships and Financial Aid:
  • Look for scholarships and financial aid programs specifically for students studying abroad. Many universities offer scholarships for international students. CIEE also offers scholarships you can apply for that make their programs even cheaper!

2. Book weekend trips through Bus2Alps or SmartTrip

  • Both these websites offer weekend excursions to a variety of different places and they all leave out of Rome or Florence. They are very cost efficient as they include travel, accommodation, excursions and sometimes even food for a low cost! It is also a great way to meet other students around the world! Take my word for it these programs are amazing and help you save money and stress when planning trips.

3. Grocery shop:

  • Grocery shop as much as possible because eating out every day gets really expensive! The grocery stores in Rome are very inexpensive with high quality products. You can grab bags of fresh pasta at the store, fresh produce and fresh bread. I really enjoyed learning how to make italian cuisine in my own home.
homemade pasta rome italy

4. Student Discounts:

  • Take advantage of student discounts on transportation, museums, and other attractions. The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is widely recognized in Rome and offers various discounts.

5. Local Cuisine:

  • Save money by dining in local trattorias, osterias and pizzerias rather than touristy restaurants. You also are not required to tip in Italy but most places will charge you for water and a small service charge. 
local pasta rome

6. Public Transportation:

  • Rome has an extensive public transportation system. Invest in a monthly or semester pass for buses and trams to save on commuting expenses.

7. Plan Your Trips:

  • While in Rome, explore other European cities. Traveling within Europe can be affordable if you plan ahead and book budget transportation and accommodation options.

8. Financial Apps:

  •  Use budgeting apps to track your spending and stay within your budget. I use apps like Mint, YNAB, or PocketGuard that really helped me to manage my finances.

9. Avoid Tourist Traps:

  • Be mindful of tourist traps and high-priced tours. Research local activities and attractions that offer a more authentic and affordable experience. My best advice for this is to ask locals! Get your Guide is a great platform to book excursions for reasonable prices to ensure you’re getting the best experience for your money!

10. Get cash at local banks and post offices ONLY!

  • Those currency exchange places you see in busy areas, airports and train stations are the worst place you can get to get euros! To get the best exchange rate always go to a local bank or post office to get the best rate possible! This will save you a lot of money and stress. 
rome bank abroad

11. Plan Ahead:

  • Start budgeting and saving for your study abroad experience well in advance. The earlier you start, the easier it will be to reach your financial goals.

12. Seek Financial Guidance:

  •  Consult your university's study abroad office or a financial advisor for tips and resources on managing your finances while abroad.

Remember that studying abroad is an investment in your education and personal growth. By planning carefully, making smart financial decisions, and being resourceful, you can make your experience in Rome both memorable and affordable. While studying abroad isn’t cheap, I can assure you that it is the best experience and CIEE does a great job at keeping program costs as low as possible.