Study Abroad

How Much Does it Cost to Study Abroad?

Andrea Palmer
Topic Expert

Andrea Ella Palmer is a freelance writer from Baltimore, Maryland. She earned a Master of Public Health from University College Dublin in 2017. Over the past 5 years, Andrea has lived in Madrid, Dublin, and now calls Alicante, Spain home where she works as an EFL teacher in a primary school.

Studying abroad provides a whole host of benefits from expanding your world view to gaining international experience, which will enhance both your resume and personal growth.

Aside from the enrichment of studying in a foreign country, it might also prove to be the more economical option. Research shows that after adjusting for inflation, the cost of a public four-year university education in the US has tripled between 1989 and 2019. Direct enrollment at an overseas institution for a semester, year, or even an entire degree has the possibility to save you some substantial cash.

In this article, we're featuring nine popular study abroad countries. Each country profile will include sample tuition costs, cost of living averages, and flight ticket estimates. These numbers are up-to-date but are intended to be used as a budgeting reference point. Your own spending habits will determine how much extra money you should set aside, depending on whether you enjoy fancy dinners, frequent travel, cooking at home or thrifty shopping.

In terms of tuition, two sets of prices will be presented: direct enrollment and third-party provider. Direct enrollment means you will be taking care of your application and transition to your new university on your own, much like you did for your home institution in the US. This option cuts out the middle man and usually results in cheaper tuition costs. Third-party providers, while pricier, tend to arrange everything for you and may even include housing and insurance.

So now let's jump right in and explore 9 of the most popular study abroad destinations. Hopefully, with this research, you'll be one step closer to making your study abroad dreams a reality!

France

France is a great destination for French-language students and Francophiles alike. A country known for its food, wine, and cinema, there are plenty of cultural attractions to make your time in France both educational and memorable.

Average Tuition Cost for a Semester in France

Through direct enrollment, tuition costs to study abroad in France can be very affordable. Though major cities will carry higher costs, exciting locations located across the country will offer exciting and authentic experiences with a lower price tag.

Tuition for direct enrollment for a semester:
Tuition for a semester with a third-party provider:

*Note this particular total includes housing

Average Cost of Living in France

While living in Paris will surely cost you a pretty penny, average living expenses across France are generally reasonable compared to the rest of Western Europe.

EXPENSE ESTIMATED COST
Meals
  • $14 - inexpensive meal
  • $55 - date at a mid-range restaurant
  • $40 - average weekly grocery bill
Monthly rent
  • $375 - $700 for a dorm room or a room in a shared apartment (depending on location)
  • $1,340 for a one bedroom apartment in Paris
Utilities About $185 per month (including internet)
Cell phone About $22 per month
Local transportation A monthly pass: about $56
Personal expenses
  • Pair of jeans in chain store (H&M): $25
  • 0.5L of domestic beer: $2
  • Cappuccino: $3
  • Movie ticket: $11
Total Expect to spend about $3,500 - 4,500 for one semester in France after airfare and program fees.

Source: Numbeo France

Average Airfare Costs to France

The below ticket prices are round-trip estimates from three major US airports across the country to the capital, Paris. Prices vary depending on the time of year, the destination, and the arrival airport but the following will give you a rough idea of costs for budgeting.

  • New York (JFK) to Paris (CDG) - ~$480
  • Chicago (ORD) to Paris (CDG) - ~$500
  • Los Angeles (LAX) to Paris (CDG) - ~$470

Germany

Another hugely popular study abroad destination, it's no secret that Germany is extremely student-friendly. With low or no tuition, student discounts, and an affordable living cost all make this beautiful country a top pick.

Average Tuition Cost for a Semester in Germany

German universities offer a wide variety of tuition-free degrees for both EU and international students. For these programs, students are only obligated to pay a small amount for fees. This payment generally includes a transportation pass. Direct enrollment could potentially save you thousands of dollars on tuition.

Tuition for direct enrollment for a semester in Germany:
Fees for a semester with a third-party study abroad provider:

Average Cost of Living in Germany

In the capital, Berlin, and other large cities, you will inevitably find higher rent prices. However, with the money you save on tuition, you may find it easier to make ends meet.

EXPENSE ESTIMATED COS
Meals
  • $11 - inexpensive restaurant meal
  • $50 - dinner for two at a mid-range restaurant
  • $40 - average weekly grocery bill
Monthly rent
  • $330 - $734 for a dorm room or a room in a shared apartment in the city center
  • $495 - $1,212 for a one bedroom apartment in a big city
Utilities About $290 per month (heat, electricity, cooling, water, garbage, internet)
Cell phone About $16.50 per month
Local transportation A monthly pass: averages around $77, but often this is included in your tuition/fees and will be your ID card
Personal expenses
  • Pair of jeans (chain store like H&M): $22
  • 0.5L of domestic beer: $3.80
  • Cappuccino: $2.96
  • Movie ticket: $11.90
Total Expect to spend about $3,500 - $4,500 for one semester in Germany after airfare and program fees.

Source: Numbeo Germany

Average Airfare Costs to Germany

The below ticket prices are round-trip estimates from three major US airports across the country to the capital, Berlin. Prices vary depending on the time of year and destination and arrival airports but the following will give you a rough idea of costs for budgeting.

  • New York (JFK) to Berlin (SXF) - ~$650
  • Chicago (ORD) to Berlin (SXF) - ~$700
  • Los Angeles (LAX) to Berlin (SXF) - ~$740

Costa Rica

The land with the slogan of "pura vida", or pure life, is sure to relax and rejuvenate you with its natural beauty and friendly locals. Costa Rica boasts pristine beaches, forests filled with wildlife, and vibrant cities and towns. Enjoy getting to know this small Central American country in between your studies during a semester abroad.

Average Tuition Cost for a Semester in Costa Rica

Tuition rates can vary from as low as $6,855 at a national university to as high as $20,260 through an American university based in Costa Rica. The following third-party providers offer prices among the lowest to study abroad of all the countries on the list, making them an attractive option.

Tuition for direct enrollment for a semester:
Tuition for a semester with a third-party provider:

Average Cost of Living in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has a very reasonable cost of living which means your money can go far. Cutting costs by eating local or cooking at home will leave you with even more funds for travel and cultural activities.

EXPENSE ESTIMATED COST
Meals
  • $5 to $10 - inexpensive meal (more expensive in San Jose)
  • $25 to $45 - date at a mid-range restaurant
  • $50 - average weekly grocery bill
Monthly rent
  • $200 - $500 for a dorm room or a room in a shared apartment
  • $250 to $700 for an apartment
Utilities About $75 per month
Cell phone About $20 per month
Local transportation A monthly pass: about $46
Personal Expenses
  • 0.5L of domestic beer: $2.60
  • Cappuccino: $2.65
  • Movie ticket: $6
Total Expect to spend about $2,500 - 3,500 for one semester in Costa Rica after airfare and program fees.

Source: Numbeo Costa Rica

Average Airfare Costs to Costa Rica

The below ticket prices are round-trip estimates from three major US airports across the country to the capital, San Jose. Prices vary depending on the time of year and destination and arrival airports but the following will give you a rough idea of costs for budgeting.

  • New York (JFK) to San Jose (SJO) - ~$300
  • Chicago (ORD) to San Jose (SJO) - ~$375
  • Los Angeles (LAX) to San Jose (SJO) - ~$250

Spain

Spain is consistently a top study abroad destination due to its gorgeous climate and relaxed pace of life. This popular country isn't just for Spanish language students. Many programs offer courses in English for those just looking to experience the exciting culture and rich heritage.

Average Tuition Cost for a Semester in Spain

Studying in Spain can be extremely affordable either through direct enrollment at a Spanish university or with a third-party provider. Even studying in the capital Madrid will cost you a fraction of a semester at a US university.

Tuition for direct enrollment for a semester at:
Tuition for a semester with a third-party provider:

Average Cost of Living in Spain

Spain is a country where you can live well without breaking the bank. Good food and wine are cheap, whether you cook at home or eat out. While housing prices have risen in Madrid in recent years, they are still cheap compared to other major European cities. Overall, students can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle in Spain when studying abroad.

EXPENSE ESTIMATED COST
Meals
  • $11 - inexpensive meal
  • $38 - meal for two at a mid-range restaurant
  • $30 - average weekly grocery bill
Monthly rent
  • $220- $470 for a dorm room or a room in a shared apartment.
  • $1,061 for a one bedroom apartment in Barcelona
Utilities About $65 per month
Cell phone About $10 per month
Local transportation A monthly pass: about $48.50
Personal expenses
  • Pair of jeans: $22 (chain store such as H&M)
  • 0.5L of domestic beer: $2.70
  • Cappuccino: $1.77
  • Movie ticket: $9
Total cost Expect to spend about $2,500- $3,500 for one semester in Spain after airfare and program fees.

Source: Numbeo Spain

Average Airfare Costs to Spain

The prices below are round-trip estimates from three major US airports across the country to the capital, Madrid. Prices vary depending on the time of year and destination and arrival airports but the following will give you a rough idea of costs for budgeting.

  • New York (JFK) to Madrid (MAD) - ~$540
  • Chicago (ORD) to Madrid (MAD) - ~$700
  • Los Angeles (LAX) to Madrid (MAD) - ~$640

Japan

Japan is home to fascinating history, healthy and delicious food, and a bustling pop culture scene that is sure to wow more than just die-hard Nintendo fans. This diverse island has something for everyone from art and architecture lovers to craft beer enthusiasts.

Average Tuition Cost for a Semester in Japan

Direct enrollment in a Japanese university has the potential to be very affordable, even in Tokyo.

Tuition for a semester through direct enrollment:
Tuition for a semester through a third-party provider:

Average Cost of Living in Japan

Higher prices for living expenses will be found in Tokyo and other major cities. However, Japan's reliable public transportation system makes living outside of the city center much easier.

EXPENSE ESTIMATED COST
Meals
  • $8.09 - inexpensive meal
  • $36.38 - date at a mid-range restaurant
  • $6.50 - one gallon of milk
Monthly rent
  • $776 - for a one bedroom apartment in a city center
  • $522.30 - for a one bedroom apartment outside of a city center
Utilities About $189 per month
Cell phone About $75 per month
Local transportation
  • A monthly pass: about $92.09
  • A one-way ticket: about $2
Personal expenses
  • Pair of jeans: $63
  • 0.5L of domestic beer: $4.37
  • Cappuccino: $3.62
  • Movie ticket: $16.58
Total Expect to spend anywhere from $3,500 to $8,000 on housing, airfare and other expenses.

Source: Numbeo Japan

Average Airfare Costs to Japan

The below ticket prices are round-trip estimates from three major US airports across the country to the capital, Tokyo. Prices vary depending on the time of year and destination and arrival airports but the following will give you a rough idea of costs for studying abroad in Japan.

  • New York (JFK) to Tokyo (NRT) - ~$860
  • Chicago (ORD) to Tokyo (NRT) - ~$825
  • Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo (NRT) - ~$990

Italy

Foodies rejoice: Italy will give you the opportunity to experience the country's rich culinary traditions alongside your studies. Enjoy art, culture, history, and the Mediterranean lifestyle during a semester abroad in Italy.

Average Tuition Cost for a Semester in Italy

Direct enrolment study abroad in Italy tends to be cheaper at Italian universities than American universities with campuses located in-country.

Tuition for a semester of direct enrollment study abroad:
Tuition for a semester of study abroad through a third-party provider:

Average Cost of Living in Italy

Living expenses while studying abroad in Italy will vary based on urban or rural locations, as well as your personal spending habits. Budget a bit extra if you plan on regularly indulging in pizzas, pasta, and gelato.

EXPENSE ESTIMATED COST
Meals
  • $17 - inexpensive meal
  • $55 - date at a mid-range restaurant
  • $55 - average weekly grocery bill
Monthly rent $442 - $1,105 for a one-bedroom apartment
Utilities $94 - $276 per month
Cell phone $30 per month
Local transportation Monthly Pass: $40
Personal expenses
  • Pair of jeans (brand name): $85
  • Beer at a pub: $5 (wine is cheaper)
  • Cappuccino: $1.50
  • Movie ticket: $10
  • Theater ticket: $35
Total Depending on how often you travel and eat at restaurants, and where you are living, budget around $4,500 on the low end, to up to $7,000 on the high end, for your expenses during a semester in Italy.

Source: Numbeo Italy

Average Airfare Costs to Italy

The following ticket prices are round-trip estimates from three major US airports across the country to the capital, Rome. Prices vary depending on the time of year, destination, and arrival airports but the following will give you a rough idea of pricing for your flight to Italy.

  • New York (JFK) to Rome (FCO) - ~$420
  • Chicago (ORD) to Rome (FCO) - ~$500
  • Los Angeles (LAX) to Rome (FCO) - ~$615

England

England is a great study abroad destination for first time travelers. Transitioning into life in a foreign country is easier without a language barrier and will help you gain confidence in setting off on your own. World-class universities will enrich your studies while outside of the classroom, its history and natural landscapes will charm you. Explore all England has to offer!

Average Tuition Cost for a Semester in England

Although tuition costs in England may be slightly higher than other countries on this list, studying in an English-speaking country will give you a wider range of courses to choose from.

Tuition for a semester of direct enrollment study abroad:
Tuition for a semester of study abroad with a third-party program:

Average Cost of Living in England

Sharing accommodation will keep living costs low. Cooking at home with roommates or cashing in on supermarket meal deals will also help you save a few pounds every month.

EXPENSE ESTIMATED COST
Meals
  • $7.84, inexpensive fast food meal
  • $19.61, pub or inexpensive restaurant meal
  • $340, average monthly food expenses
Rent
  • $1,000 - $2,250 for a 1 bedroom in the city center
  • $850 - $1,581 for a 1 bedroom in the suburbs
  • $915 per person for a shared 3 bedroom in the city center
  • $653 per person for a shared 3 bedroom in the suburbs
Utilities and internet $226 for an 85 square meter apartment if not included in rent
Cell phone About $30 per month
Transportation About $70 per month
Personal expenses
  • $86.14, 1 pair of brand name jeans
  • $6.54, 0.5L of domestic draught beer
  • $3.70, cappuccino
  • $13, movie ticket
Total About $1,000/month, not including rent

Source: Numbeo United Kingdom and Cost of Living in England

Average Airfare Costs to England

The ticket prices below are estimates for round-trip flights from three major US airports across the country to the capital, London. Prices vary depending on time of year and destination and arrival airports but these will give you an idea for budgeting your trip overseas.

  • New York (JFK) to London (LHR) - ~$640
  • Chicago (ORD) to London (LHR) - ~$600
  • Los Angeles (LAX) to London (LHR) - ~$500

Ireland

Friendly faces, green rolling hills, and rich cultural heritage await you in Ireland. This small but mighty island has it all: pristine beaches, towering mountains, and lively cities that make it easy to call home. While not the cheapest destination on the list, a semester in Ireland is sure to be filled with countless priceless memories.

Average Tuition Cost for a Semester in Ireland

Ireland is home to prestigious and well-respected universities that are known for delivering top-notch educations. Costs to study abroad for a semester on the Emerald Isle for as low as $5,250 depending on your area of study.

Tuition for a semester of direct enrollment study abroad:
Tuition for a semester of study abroad through a third-party provider:

Average Cost of Living in Ireland

Rent prices across the country have risen dramatically in recent years and will constitute a sizable part of your budget, especially in Dublin.

EXPENSE ESTIMATED COST
Meals
  • $17 - inexpensive meal
  • $67 – dinner for two at a mid-range restaurant
  • $70 - average weekly grocery bill
Monthly rent $774 - $1989 for a one-bedroom apartment in city center
Utilities $99 - $276 per month
Cell phone About $20 per month
Transportation A monthly pass: about $110
Personal Expenses
  • Pair of name brand jeans: $83
  • Pint of domestic beer: $6
  • Cappuccino: $3.50
  • Movie ticket: $11.50
Total You’ll likely spend at least $6,000 and potentially up to $10,000 for one semester in Ireland after airfare and program fees. The final figure depends on where you decide to live, how often you eat out and shop, etc.

Source: Numbeo Ireland

Average Airfare Costs to Ireland

The below ticket prices are round-trip estimates from three major US airports across the country to the capital, Dublin. Prices vary depending on the time of year and destination and arrival airports but the following will give you a rough idea of costs for budgeting.

  • New York (JFK) to Dublin (DUB) - ~$650
  • Chicago (ORD) to Dublin (DUB) - ~$590
  • Los Angeles (LAX) to Dublin (DUB) - ~$700

China

One of the world's oldest civilizations, China is where ancient history meets modern-day innovation. Whether you're a business student or simply a culture enthusiast, you'll find many fascinating things to explore across this vast country.

Average Tuition Cost for a Semester in China

Tuition costs in China are low, whether you choose to stay for a semester or an entire year. Students can study in either Chinese or English, depending on their degree plan.

Tuition for a semester of direct enrollment study abroad:
Tuition for a semester of study abroad through a third-party provider:

*Housing included

Average Cost of Living in China

Life in China has the potential to be very affordable with the right budgeting.

EXPENSE ESTIMATED COST
Meals
  • $4 - inexpensive meal
  • $22 – dinner for two at a mid-range restaurant
  • $50 - average weekly grocery bill
Monthly rent $228 - $1,070 for a one-bedroom apartment in city center
Utilities $30 - $88 per month
Cell phone About $20 per month
Local transportation A monthly pass: about $17
Personal expenses
  • Pair of brand name jeans: $60
  • Pint of domestic beer: $1
  • Cappuccino: $3.90
  • Movie ticket: $6.50
Total Your living expenses will likely fall between $2,000 and $5,800 for one semester in China after airfare and program fees.

Source: Numbeo China

Average Airfare Costs to China

The below ticket prices are round-trip estimates from three major US airports across the country to the capital, Beijing. Prices vary depending on the time of year and destination and arrival airports but the following will give you a rough idea of costs for budgeting.

  • New York (JFK) to Beijing (PEK) - ~$800
  • Chicago (ORD) to Beijing (PEK) - ~$920
  • Los Angeles (LAX) to Beijing (PEK) - ~$650

I highly recommend fitting study abroad into your degree plan. As an undergraduate, I spent one month in Spain for a summer study abroad and the only thing I regret is that I didn't stay longer.

As this article shows, spending a semester overseas is possible and well within your reach. With proper planning, you too can be on your way to one of these exciting countries and one of the best experiences of your life!