Receiving a loan dispersal – or any other financial aid – can sometimes feel like winning the lottery. After all, it is not every day that students receive checks with so many digits. That, however, is the point: even though it may feel exciting it is not an everyday occurrence, and those funds need to last you for a semester or more. International student loan recipients in particular should be especially careful because, unlike their domestic peers, they have far fewer financial aid options open to them. Here are a couple of tips on making the most of international student loans:

Step 1: Have a Plan
To ensure you make the most of your international student loans it is important to plan ahead. This means you not only calculate your estimated need – and adding in a little extra to take care of emergencies and other unexpected expenses – in advance. To get a head start, check with your university but do not stop there. Though they can usually provide cost projections for potential students, each student’s situation is unique and thus any estimates should be customized with your specific needs in mind. Once you have put a plan in place, though, you also need to carry it out.

Visit our how to budget for school resource for more information and a sample spreadsheet to download.

Step 2: Follow Your Plan
Having created a budget, now you have to stick to it. That means that, as large as that check is, as tempting as it might be to spend some of it on a pair of sneakers on or a dinner out with that coed you have had your eye on, budgeting your money is the key to making your student loan dollars go the distance. A student loan differs from an allowance or a job in that it is only issued once. Because the money is not doled out regularly – be it weekly or biweekly – you might want to consider doling it out to yourself. That means that once your tuition is covered, fees are paid, and textbooks are purchased, you might want to take the remaining amount and divide it by the number of weeks in the semester. Then, at the beginning of each week, only allow yourself access to that single amount when determining your budget for the week. Doing so does not mean you cannot head to the movies or splurge on a nice dinner but, because it comes from the smaller, subdivided funds, you can rest assured that you are making the most not only of your international student loan but also of you study abroad experience itself.

Find an international or study abroad loan – and get money for the new academic term.

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