You suddenly have a whole summer ahead of you, you can finally breathe! Finals are over and you have so much free time you don’t know what to do with yourself. Friends are visiting home and planning their vacations, but how do they all have the money to do these things? It’s not easy, however, with a few simple steps you can stretch the last of your yearly budget to take a break this summer. So, take a vacation on a budget and forget all the studying and exams until next semester.
There are several ways you can save money on your vacation. To travel on a budget think about doing some research on your destination, managing expectations and planning. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.
Take your time
Never go for the first flight you find, always check out comparison sights such as Kayak and SkyScanner to see which are the cheapest routes, if a layover will reduce the cost of the flight or if there are budget airlines offering the same flights.
You have a whole summer ahead of you, so instead of rushing in to planning a trip a few days in advance do your research, look at airline websites to see when they have special promotions or sales and try to book during these times. If you’re not sure where you want to go then check out the cheapest flight routes and promotions to get you started, you might discover something you never knew existed.
You can save a fortune simply by being flexible. Most people tend to set a specific date and fit their search criteria to fixed expectations. This limits the outcome and often increases the price of the flight. Most websites allow you to select the option of +/-2 days when searching for a flight. By adapting your schedule to the flight availability, you can often reduce the cost of your trip by booking less popular flights. Now that school’s over you don’t have to fly Friday night to Sunday, meaning that you’re holding the winning hand. You can take those cheaper weekday 1pm flights that most people don’t have the right schedule to take.
In a home
Let’s be realistic, you probably won’t be staying in a 5* hotel on your vacation if you want to eat, drink and explore while you’re away. Alternatives such as AirBnB are a lifesaver. AirBnB allows you to rent a room in a great location with the only compromise of sharing a bathroom or kitchen. If you rent with a friend you can even split the price of the room between 2, massively reducing the cost. The filters are excellent, making the search for your stay straightforward and easy to fit around your criteria. Additionally, you can check out previous reviews and the rating of the host to make sure you feel safe and secure during your stay.
Just because you can’t stay in a high-end hotel doesn’t mean you can’t find a good compromise. Check out Booking.com for some incredible promotions on anything from dorms in hostels to hotels with breakfast and a pool. Other great sites include Expedia and Trivago, which offer both hotel comparisons and package trips with great promotions. Take a look around, and once you find a place you like compare between each of these websites to see which has the best deal.
If you’re away with friends you’re likely to eat out a lot, which can be scary and make you think you always have to go for the soup or salad. There are 2 easy ways to avoid this, the first is by renting an apartment to share with your friends. By using AirBnB or local websites in your destination you can often find a place with a kitchen to cook in the apartment. I’m guessing you won’t want to stay in the whole time, but at least you can cook breakfast and keep snacks and drinks in the fridge.
If you don’t have this option then just do your research in advance. Get a guidebook or look online at Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, Trip Advisor or Time Out to avoid the tourist traps. Think about alternatives to restaurants such as markets, where you can often buy fresh ingredients and eat outside. Besides, what’s the point in a vacation if you can’t enjoy the outdoors?
Some costs you won’t be able to avoid. However, by doing some research in advance you can often save a lot. Find out the best museums and galleries for students – most countries have reductions on tickets for people under the age of 25. Look for outdoor activities such as parks, gardens and festivals. Also, when at the beach, find areas where you can take your own food and drinks. Avoid paying for deck chair rental by taking a towel or blanket to lay on and make the most of the outdoors.
Wherever you choose to go on your vacation this summer, make sure you explore the local culture and traditions, take in your surroundings (simply walking around a city all day can uncover some great surprises and help you stumble across hidden gems), and enjoy your break from college.
We all know being a college student means studying, trying out new activities, exploring local culture, partying, basically saying yes to everything offered, right? But how is it that everyone seems to have to money to say yes to everything? These simple 5 steps will help you to stretch your student loan further without having to turn down all the amazing opportunities surrounding you.
- Join Facebook groups – what you have to understand is that you’re not the only one. If you’re feeling the pressure to get involved but don’t have the money to spend then thousands of other students are feeling the same way!
A great way to meet like-minded people, learn about local and free events, and explore some alternative options to those being offered on campus, is to join a Facebook group. There is a wide array of groups from the Harry Potter appreciation society or the birdwatching club, to class and college based groups. Each of these groups will have students sharing ideas, events, and generally seeking to socialize in a student-based environment. The great thing about Facebook is that you can see public groups and events, you can follow stories, share ideas, put ‘interested’ in an event without having to pay or attend, just to scope out your options. Additionally, you can join private groups that are full of other students in the area, many with similar student budgets.
- Shop smart – if your main restriction to getting involved in student activities is your budget, then be smart in other areas of your student life, like shopping.
Grocery shopping is a great place to stretch your money without missing out. A few simple rules could save you a fortune over your time in college:
- Never go shopping when you’re hungry! This is a sure way to give into your cravings and head straight to the Oreo section. (This will also help if you’re trying to balance being a student with maintaining a healthy lifestyle!)
- Make a list and try to shop once a week – to avoid impulse buys and make sure you have a plan for food throughout the week. It will help you to avoid ordering last minute take-out.
- Don’t eat out! Ok, maybe now and again after a long day in classes when you just don’t want to cook, but try to avoid it by buying food that you can prepare quickly and easily for those times.
- Go generic – do you really need those Lays chips and Coca Cola? Maybe you do need the occasional treat, but for the most part why not try the generic alternatives and test the water?
- Finally, check out the reduced sections, learn the times that stock is reduced each day and make use of your freezer! You can get some incredible deals on meat, fish and other expensive items if you watch these zones.
- Avoid buying all the memberships before you decide what you really want.
In a world of sports and societies it might be tempting to join them all, with the best intention of attending every soccer practice, film society showing, hiking trip etc. However, once the semester kicks into gear and you’re attending classes, studying, socializing, working out or whatever your routine happens to be, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep up with all those societies. Sample as many options as possible for free over the first couple of weeks of semester to see what fits best. And remember, spending time outdoors is a great way to get some free exercise!
- Student discounts – one of the best perks of being a student, and something I promise you’ll sorely miss once it’s gone, is student discount.
Just by having your student ID card you’re ahead of the game and can access a wide number of student discounts from shopping to activities. Big companies are all jumping on the promotional bandwagon including, Amazon, Sam’s Club, Greyhound, STA Travel and Verizon. Student discounts are also a fantastic way to support your education with companies such as Apple and Microsoft offering discounts on laptops and other technology. For events and shopping simply search online for student discounts in your local area or check out UNiDAYS for national offers.
- Don’t overspend on educational items. Ultimately you’re at college to learn, however, having a brand-new version of every book on the syllabus for each class simply isn’t necessary.
Firstly, many students before you have made this mistake. That means there is a whole bunch of second-hand (barely touched) books waiting for you to snap them up for half the price. Also try Amazon if you can’t find what you’re looking for on campus. For some books, you might only need to read one chapter and will then cast it aside. Approach your professors, ask what books are vital to buy and what you can find online or photocopy in the library. Finally, think about alternative options such as Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program if you’re likely to need quick access to a number of resources.
If you think that college life might be for you, just take a look at the wide variety of student loans being offered to support your experience. And remember, college is not only about getting an education but about gaining life experience, so use these tips to go out and get involved!
We are proud to announce this year’s InternationalStudent.com Travel Video Contest Winners for 2016. With 159 entries, it was a difficult decision for the judges. The caliber of the videos this year were exceptional, and reflected the talent and creativity from students around the world. After much deliberation, we are excited to announce:
$4,000 Grand Prize Winner: Mariana Osorio with “This Magic World”
Second Place Winner: Siti Fatimah with “Dream, Believe, and Make it Happen”
Third Place Winner: Michael de Beer with “The Urban Archi”
Congratulate our new winners as they take home their prizes and be sure to also check out the Viewer’s Choice Award winner, Marifer & Carlos, on their video, “A Couple of MBA’s.”
Follow this year’s winner, Mariana, as she writes about her experience as an international student in New York. She will be blogging this year on her very own Study in the USA blog, so be sure to take a look and connect with her.
InternationalStudent.com just announced both the finalist and Viewers’ Choice Award winner for the 2016 Travel Video Contest. With 159 entries from students all around the world, it was no easy decision to narrow it down to just 14 finalists.
The Viewer’s Choice Award winner is Carlos Roberto Gonzalez Meyer’s A Couple of MBA’s who tells the story about him and his girlfriend’s dream to study in Canada. Cute, funny, and inspiring, you won’t want to miss this couple’s upcoming adventure. Watch their video if you haven’t already, and congratulate them on winning $1,000 to help make their dreams come true!
Not only will they get passed to the finalist round, but they’ll join 13 other finalist for their chance to win the grand prize of $4,000. Stay tuned for International Education Week where on November 18th, InternationalStudent.com will announce the judges’ winner – and if you haven’t already, watch the finalist videos and let us know which one you like best.
November and December are usually the months when most people´s grace periods on their student loans are coming to an end. As you begin to organize your finances once more, it is important to determine the best way to pay back your loans and how to do it making on-time monthly payments. Most loan providers offer the following options to make payments: automatic debit, pay online, pay by phone, and pay by check or money order.
It is important to remember that the loan is under your name and is now part of your financial history. This mean that your loan payments should be taken into consideration when creating a budget for your new monthly expenses, and should be just as important as your rent and grocery expenses. Most lenders have some sort of late fee policy in place and late payments will only reflect negatively on your credit score and increase the amount of your debt with the loan provider. Read the rest of this entry »
Have you already checked out our International Student Loan Comparison Tool, but realized that you weren’t exactly sure how to compare the results given? Deciding which loan is the right one for you can feel a little overwhelming, but here is a cheat sheet on how to compare your different loan options and choose the best one!
Now, before jumping into the loan jargon here are some basic questions you should ask yourself in order to compare loans efficiently:
⦁ Do I plan to work and study at the same time?
⦁ Do I want to get a Master’s?
⦁ Do I want to make loan payments while I am studying or begin repayment once I have graduated?
You may not have a clear answer for these question at the moment, but if you do these questions will you give you some extra insight on which loan conditions are right for you.
- Interest Rates: Variable or Fixed?
Interest rates are the part of taking out a loan that everyone hates, so if you can get the best deal you’ll feel very satisfied. When you apply for a loan, you are asked if you want a variable or fixed interest rate and the distinction is very important.
- Variable: A variable rate means exactly that, the interest rate on your loan varies and changes over time. This is considered somewhat of a gamble because if the economy changes, your interest rate can either decrease or increase.⦁
- Fixed: Most people automatically go with a fixed interest rate because its stable and, therefore, stays the same as long as your loan exists. A fixed rate makes it easier for you to calculate your monthly payments, which in turn allows you to organize your finances. In essence, it gives you more control from day 1.
When choosing the details of your repayment, is when the previous questions could come in handy. It is important to know if you have the option to defer (postpone) payments until after you have finished your studies or if you have to begin repayment as soon as you sign your name. Here are 3 of the most common repayment schedules and what they mean:
Special Conditions and Additional Fees
- Standard Repayment: Standard repayment usually gives you a 10-year limit to pay off your loan. During those 10 years you have a fixed monthly amount, and the lender usually requires a minimum monthly payment.
- Extended Repayment: Extended repayment is similar to standard repayment, in that you have fixed monthly payments. However, you have the option to pay back your loan between 12-30 years. This of course lowers your monthly payments, but it is important to remember that the lender will be charging you interest during this time. Although you may have lower monthly payments, more payments means more interest which means more money paid over time.
- Graduated Repayment: With a graduated repayment schedule, the idea is that you start off paying a specific monthly payment and that this amount is readjusted (increases) every 2 years. The repayment timeline given is usually 12-30 years.
You may have heard the term deferment thrown around when talking about loans and you may know that it means postponing your loan payments. When taking out a private student loan you must be careful with the fine print. Although deferment exists, with private student loans it might be a little bit trickier. Many times, in the fine print is where you will find a multitude of hidden fees that can come back to haunt you later. Here are a few fees to keep an eye out for:
- Paying off your loan early
- Penalties for late payments
For more information on what to take into consideration when choosing a loan check out our post ¨What International Student Loan is Right for Me?¨.
Now that you have chosen what university will be your home for the next 4 years, you can start the student loan application process. It may seem intimidating, but here’s a guide to help you get an idea of what you have to do and how to do it.
- Financial Aid & Cost of Attendance
This is the first step once you have decided what university you will be attending. If you have received any scholarships or financial aid, make sure to get in contact with the financial aid office to get an updated version of your personal cost of attendance. When applying for a student loan, the maximum amount you are eligible for is equal to your cost of attendance. This will help you calculate the amount you are going to be asking for in loans. In addition, make sure that if you are going to need a co-signer you have that person informed about when you will be submitting the application, being that they will be filling out the application form as well.
- Choosing a Loan
Finding a loan can seem like the hardest part, but that’s where we come in. With our International Student Loan Comparison Tool, you can save time trying to find the right loan. There are some important factors to consider when choosing a loan such as the repayment period or interest rate. It may sound complicated, but we have some tips to help you navigate this process.
- Filling out the Application
Nowadays, loan applications can be submitted via the internet making the process a lot easier. You will need to complete the online application with your co-signer or they may be required to submit a separate online application. If this is the case, be sure to provide them with a correct reference number or application number to avoid any mistakes with the paperwork. In order to make the application process as easy as possible, collect all the following documents and information beforehand:
- School information, including school name, major, grade, and school term for which you need the loan
- Social Security number (as an international student, this may not be applicable)
- Telephone numbers
- Current addresses (home and school)
- Personal reference information and phone number
- Gross income information
- Residence information, including whether you own or rent, and the monthly housing payment
- Requested loan amount
- Contact from Lender
During the application process, you will receive paperwork that may be completely foreign to you. The most important piece of paper is the Promissory Note, which is just a special name for the contract. The Promissory Note is the contract you sign stating to the lender that you will pay back the loan in full and under what specific conditions, in other words the fine print. Want to be up to speed on loan jargon? Check out this great video explaining the loan terms you’ll be coming across!
After all the research, paperwork, and possible headaches this is the moment you have been waiting for. Disbursement is what lenders call the process of giving you the loan money. Student loans are typically sent directly to your school which then uses the money to pay for what is charged to your student account for that semester. Although the process should be automatic, you should keep on top of the dates because your school will have a final payment date and if your loan is not received by that date, it could cause you problems.
Just like with the college application process, dates are important! Check out our financial aid timeline for some helpful tips.
Once your university application process is over, a huge weight is lifted because you finally know what school you are going to attend. However, you then remember that there is another waiting game, which is waiting to find out how much money you will receive in financial aid, scholarships, etc. Many people do not even consider taking out a loan, because they feel that the combination of their savings and possible financial aid should be enough. For some this may be true, but for many financial aid never seems to be quite as much as they were expecting. Keep in mind that if you don’t use up everything you take out with an international student loan you can start paying it back right away; this way, you will feel debt free a lot sooner. If you are not sure whether or not to apply for an international student loan, below are 5 reasons why you should reconsider!
Many universities require first-year international students to live in on-campus housing. Although on-campus housing may prove to be convenient, it can sometimes be a bit more expensive than renting a room or apartment from a private landlord. If you are struggling to receive any financial aid, taking out an international student loan can help you make sure that you have your most basic needs covered and the money you have saved up can be used for leisure activities, which you will want to take advantage of especially if you’re in a new city.
- Books/Lab Costs
Similarly, the cost of books and tuition may actually surprise you once the semester starts. Each university normally gives an estimated amount of how much a student will be spending on books and materials; however, the real amount varies greatly on your major. Depending on what classes are required for your major, you may have extra materials and fees if you are required to register for courses with a lab section.
- Unexpected Costs
Moving away from home for college is a big step for everyone, but when this move also includes moving to a different country it can be a lot more intimidating. When moving away, the best way to manage your money is by creating a budget system; however, there will always be some surprises along the way. It is always a good idea to have some money set aside for unexpected costs, which can include problems with housing, a cell phone bill, or other housing bills you may not have considered. Although you may have enough money saved, it is nice to have some extra so that if something unexpected occurs you will be stress free.
- Flights Home
One expense that is easy to forget about is the cost of flying back home. If you don’t include possible flights home into your budget, when the holidays come around you may find yourself scraping together pennies to be able to buy a flight home. In addition, being able to buy flights in advance is always better, because prices will always go up during the holiday seasons.
- Emergency Money
Although we have already mentioned putting money aside for unexpected costs, there are certain types of situations that really cannot be predicted. It is highly probable that you will be required to pay for and receive health coverage by your university, and although an initial consultation will be covered anything beyond that you may have to pay out of pocket. Rather than be surprised by the possible cost of medical services it is a good idea to have money set aside specifically for that.
Ready to start looking for a student loan? Check out our international student loan comparison tool which will make the search much easier!
If you are currently planning to be a college student in the U.S. or if you already attend a U.S. college, you have probably thought about one of the most important expenses that all students face — food.
Feeding yourself in college can be a challenge, especially if you’re new to living independently. You have to plan when you’re going to eat and where your meal is going to come from. You also need to determine how you intend to pay for it — all while still trying to remain healthy so you can keep up with a demanding schedule and course load.
So how can you not only effectively plan to eat, but also pay for it? Here are some tips:
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If this is the first time you are applying for a loan, the process may be intimidating. However, beginning the process with some background knowledge will not only help you feel more comfortable, but potentially speed up the process. Whether you are applying for a study abroad loan or international student loan, here are 3 important tips to make applying for a loan a piece of cake.
- Calculate Your School’s Cost of Attendance – If you are taking out a private student loan, you will be asked to provide information about the school you will be attending. Make sure you have all the contact information for your chosen university such as: the name, address, school term, major, etc. For a private student loan, the lender will cross check to make sure that your requested amount does not exceed your school’s cost of attendance (COA). Although your school’s COA is the maximum amount you will be eligible for, remember that you will be paying it all back so if you can take out less, it’s better to take out only what you need.
- Have Your Co-Signer Ready – A co-signer is essential for all international students applying for an international student loan. However, a co-signer can be useful for US citizens applying for a study abroad loan as well. When you decide to study abroad you may not have enough of a credit history established, which shows lenders that they can’t trust you to pay them back. This is why a co-signer is so important. This person, in essence, fills out the application with you and gives the lender a guarantee that if you are unable to make your loan payments he/she will take the responsibility. Choosing a co-signer with good credit can also work in your favor, allowing you to receive better interest rates from the lender.
- Collect All of Your Financial Documents – When applying for a loan you are asking for money and before a lender decides to approve your application they need to have a good idea of your financial standings. As mentioned above, you will probably need a co-signer so it is important to have all of you financial documents and that of your co-signer available. If you or your co-signer have filed taxes, having that information on hand will make the application process easier. The breakdown of financial information that you normally will be asked to provide includes: gross income, do you rent or own, monthly housing payments, etc.
Ready to start your loan search? Let us make it easier for you with our International Student Loan Comparison Tool.