Semester or Year Abroad for Lower Income Students

Semester or Year Abroad for Lower Income Students by mroach

This article was written by Global Graduates, published on 31st July 2014 and has been read 11177 times.

There is a popular misconception that doing a year (or even a semester) abroad is prohibitively expensive, but at Global Graduates, we believe that everyone should be able to benefit from a year abroad, no matter what their financial background.

We hope that, with this guide to year abroad finances, we can prove that a year abroad is not only less expensive than you might think, but that, when the monthly Erasmus grant is combined with a student loan or grant, a salary, possible supplementary funding and the fact the possibility of a tuition fee waiver, it often results in students arriving back in the UK with more money than they had when they left!

For example:

  1. A student doing a British Council assistantship in Marseille would receive a €375pm Erasmus grant + €800pm teaching salary + €500pm maintenance loan + €100pm (5 hours of English language teaching at €20ph) = €1,775pm to spend on accommodation, food and fun!
  2. A student studying in Bulgaria would receive a €275pm Erasmus grant + €500pm maintenance loan + €100pm (5 hours of English language teaching at €20ph) = 875pm + €400 one off payment for accommodation, food and fun!

1. Erasmus+ Study Abroad

Through Erasmus+, you can study in one of 32 other European countries as part of your degree course, whether or not you study a language. For more information on studying abroad with Erasmus, check out our article.
2. What funding is available?
UK Erasmus students normally receive an Erasmus grant provided by the European Commission which contributes towards the extra costs arising from studying abroad. And the best part? It’s non-repayable and you still get your Student Finance loans/grants!
3. How much money do I get?
For 2013/14 the grant varies from €275 (Band 1),to €315 (Band 2) and €375 a month (Band 3), depending on the country you visit, as some are more expensive than others:
BAND 1: Bulgaria, Romania
BAND 2: Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey
BAND 3: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
4. How do I know if I am eligible for an Erasmus grant?
To be eligible for an Erasmus grant you must:

  • Be registered at a UK University which holds an Erasmus University Charter (EUC).
  • Spend an approved study or work period of between 3 to 12 months at an institution which holds an EUC in another EU, EEA or candidate country (for students on short term higher vocational education courses, the minimum period on a work placement is two months).

5. Supplementary Funding

There are also various supplementary grants that you may be entitled to:

  1. If you are identified as financially eligible, there is a one-off supplementary grant of €500.
  2. Students with a severe disability or exceptional special needs may be entitled to extra funding to cover associated costs on their Erasmus placement.
  3. For students going to less-visited Erasmus countries, such as Bulgaria or Croatia, there is a one-off supplementary grant of €400.
  4. Students registered for a short-term vocational course, who are on a 2-3 month Erasmus work placement can receive additional funding to help with the high set-up costs - €250 for short-term accommodation and up to €300 for travel costs.

 2. Language Assistant Placement

As a British Council Language Assistant, you can use your English skills to teach in one of 14 countries around the world! To learn more, read our guide to being an ELA.

1. What funding is available?
Language=Assistants receive a monthly salary, the amount of which varies depending on the location of the assistantship. For example, assistants in Madrid earn €1000pm, whereas an assistant in China can earn around €500 (equivalent in CNY). The salaries have been calculated to reflect the living costs of each country.

You are also eligible to receive an Erasmus grant, as detailed above!

 3. Erasmus+ Traineeships

The Erasmus programme enables higher education students to study or do a work placement for typically 3-12 months in one of 32 other European countries as part of a degree course. If that sounds appealing, check out our breakdown of what’s involved.

1. What funding is available?
As with an Erasmus study placement, you are eligible for an Erasmus grant! You may also get a pretty decent salary from your place of work, to be negotiated on an individual basis.

 2. Monolingual Students
Studying in the USA or Australia can get quite expensive, as the living costs there are much higher than in Europe. However, monolingual students should consider doing Erasmus in the Netherlands (at Maastricht University, for example) where courses are taught in English.
Another option is to start learning a language in your first year of university, as many ‘ab initio’ students have proved that their language skills are good enough to study abroad

 4. Other Funding Sources

As well as the Erasmus grant, there are other sources of income available to you on your year abroad. We have listed some below, but for more information on funding, check out our handy list of awards, scholarships and grants

  • Student Finance Grant - For a good source of information for students on general finance issues, loans and grants, please go to the directgov website.  
  • Student Finance Travel Grant - If you're studying abroad as part of your course, you might be eligible for a Travel Grant. Check out the Factsheet

If you spend a full academic year (24 weeks) on Erasmus, you may be eligible to benefit from a tuition fee waiver for the year you are away. Check with your university’s Erasmus office for details.

  • FISITA Student Travel Bursary Programme - If you are an engineering student doing a work placement in the automotive industry, you can apply for a FISITA Student Travel Bursary and you could get up to €2000 financial support. 
  • Santander Universities UK - Santander have agreements with many UK universities, providing funding for scholarships, mobility awards, research grants and much more! Click here for a list of Santander's partner universities and more details of the funding available.
  • Part-Time Jobs - If you aren’t receiving a salary or monthly wage, there are other things you can do to earn money. Many year-abroaders find that they can use their position as native English-speakers to find work as tutors or babysitters. In some places, it is possible to make your monthly rent out of a part-time job!

5. Ten Tips for Keeping your Year Abroad Affordable

  1. Keep a note of your monthly costs, to stay on top of your finances (if you need help with this and you have a smartphone, try one of these budget apps).
  2. Book everything in ADVANCE to get better deals.
  3. Make a budget for extra costs, such as cultural activities and fun travel.
  4. Try and find a local equivalent of your favourite product, as it will be much cheaper than imported goods.
  5. Buy in bulk (or with flatmates) to keep costs down.
  6. Approach finding accommodation from a local’s point of view, rather than a foreign student, by using local websites and looking for adverts on lampposts when you get there.
  7. Work out easy odd jobs you can do to earn money, such as English proof-reading, one-to-one tutoring, or social media promotion for a small English-facing business.
  8. Pack clothes and accessories for all weathers, to avoid being caught out and needing to make an emergency purchase.
  9. On Monday morning, get out the cash you need for the week - it’s much harder to see real money disappearing than to use your bank card!
  10. Sign up to websites/social media pages that promote FREE activities in your area. There will be plenty of them!

 6. Case Studies

Check out these videos and blogs for more tips and advice on budgeting on your year abroad.

If you're preparing to spend time abroad, it's worth considering a Fair FX currency card instead of setting up a foreign bank account. Find out more!

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