spend a semester abroad, travel,
help people, do amazing activities,
make friends & see the world?
Have you thought about how to pay for it?
Or how to pay less?
…or going for free?
A few simple tips could save you THOUSANDS,
and we’ve got
of them for you.
Every organization will
have costs that you didn’t
expect to pay, but one
that is poorly ogranized
will have more of those.
Some programs will
advertise a cheaper cost
but end up costing more
after including “surprises”
they didn’t mention.
Don’t sacrifice program quality for cost.
Check each of these parts of your program...
“Hello, Mr. Li. My roof is leaking,
can you have it fixed please?”
“It’s okay! Put
buckets where it
drips & I will put
straw over roof
Who do you depend on?
Is a representative of the organization with you in the country?
If a problem happens (say a school insists you teach 40 hours a week
instead of 15), can you go to the organization or do you have to rely
on the foreign person that might have created the problem in the
Will you do what you think you are going to do?
How sure are you that “Teaching English” doesn’t
mean talking to 60 kids in a 1-hour class or that
helping at a hospital doesn’t mean putting up signs
and taking pictures while others actually help?
What is the length of time in-country?
Most of your costs are spent getting you over there. You shouldn’t have
to pay much more for a longer stay in-country.
How much training and coaching do you get?
Try calling your organization at midnight. Seriously! Is there a system in
place to get through for help if you absolutely have to contact them
while you are in a foreign country?
Salt Lake City
Rio de Janeiro
Talk to others who have been on the program.
It doesn’t matter how much information the organization gives you.
Talk with 2 or 3 people who have already been before committing.
Compare apples to apples
while you shop programs.
Is airfare included? Visas?
How long? Additional fees?
Support? Is there travel and
cultural opportunities provided,
or are you just dropped off in
the country? Are you volunteering
your time with a program that is
creditable and successful?
A lot of people have even better experiences abroad
by going with a friend and many organizations offer
discounts for going with a friend (even if
you are married to that friend!)
Save money by
Even if you don’t actually
go with your friend,
give discounts for
referring people that
go somewhere with
Once you’ve experienced
a semester abroad, you will
probably want to go again,
maybe multiple times.
You can save a lot of money if
your first experience is with an
organization that provides
discounts or incentives for
going more than once.
For example, ILP lets you go
for free & even pays
for personal expenses to go
a second (or third or fourth time)
as a group leader.
... in Hungary
... in Lithuania
“I have been to 10 countries and
only had to pay for the first one!”
-Jen, ILP volunteer
Jen in China...
... in Estonia
... in Mexico
... in the Czech Republic
Many people don’t want to/can’t rely on their parents
for the full cost of their semester abroad.
Even if they can’t pay the full cost,
maybe they can help with part of it.
Here are some ideas on how to ask for help from your parents…
Work for them. Paint the house, build
that retaining wall, iron your dad’s shirts, or
re-decorateyour room for your mom to use
while you are gone.
Sacrifice unused things Take that old car to the junk yard,
have a garage sale and get rid of all those old clothes,
or sell the unused desk sitting in the garage.
Use your power reasoning Negotiate with the reasoning of this
being a real life education, helping others, same cost as school, essential
to college, mission prep, etc.
Match your contributions See if they can match what you save
in a given period, what others donate, or what you save by cutting back
on something you like (cheaper apartment, cheaper phone).
If a 1:1 match is too high, have them
match 1:2 (their amount: your amount).
Heck, 1:5 is better than 0 if that’s all you can get!
Use tax deductions
Instead of giving you that awesome
thing they were eyeing for your
birthday, have them donate the $$
(plus amount of the tax deduction
if you are going with a non-profit)
toward your semester abroad.
They can at least pay the amount
THEY save by donating gifts.
Break it into smaller “chunks”
1/3 of the
Parents can focus on paying for
just a certain part of your trip.
If they won’t donate money,
many stores are willing to donate
supplies you need for your trip.
Local businesses where you or
your family members are a
customer may be able to help.
Many businesses and larger
Every Bit Helps
Ask co-workers and church
groups if they have any supplies
they don’t need that could be
Get the ILP Fundraising Packet
after you apply to receive more
detailed information on how to make
a strategy, who to contact, what to say,
and lots of great information from
people who have successfully
How Mckall fundraised $1,000
“I went in the summer and decided to have
a giant yard sale to raise part of my program
fee. I went onto ksl.com and spent a month
collecting free stuff from the classifieds
section. I also received donations from
friends and family.
Finally, after I had gathered enough "junk",
I posted an ad on KSL for my yard sale.
On the day, it was CRAZY. So many people
came and I sold almost all the stuff I had
collected. I was able to raise $1,000 that day.
It was the best feeling and totally worth it.”
You may be able to get a couple hundred dollars
for your car, your bike, or other things that you
won’t be needing when you are gone. Just put
them up for sale online.
(Be sure to get your parents and uncles to agree
to match the amount of money you raise from
selling your stuff!)
$1,000 at her
Get paid for plasma!
(Okay, just kidding, there are much better ways to earn money).
Extended family. Remember that uncle that is helping everyone
in the family with their missions? A semester abroad is a great mission
prep and he might be willing to help out with a donation of $25, $100,
$500 or more for your experience. You have nothing to lose by asking!
Friends. Your neighbors may be more generous than you think to
help fund something that is worthwhile and helpful for others.
Parents. Your parents may have friends that you don’t even know
that you could ask for help (and they would love to brag to those
friends about this awesome thing you are doing!)
Discounts for going where needed. Some of the most popular
cities & countries are also the most expensive places to live in. Why not
do your research and choose the one that is the most economical?
Discounts for going when needed. There are advantages and
disadvantages to going at certain times of the year making everything equal
in the end (view the semester comparison chart).
Last minute discounts. Many organizations give additional discounts
if you are willing to go right away. Usually you must commit 100% to get the
discount, so if you are flexible, you can save yourself a lot of money.
If departing for a
fall semester, live at
home and work over the
summer to save money
(Ask ILP about the spring
discount for people going
If departing in
winter, go where
you depart later and give
yourself and extra 4-6
weeks to earn money!
The place you go also determines your departure date. If you go to a place with a later
departure you can have several weeks to earn over $1,000.
Leaving in the middle of February instead of early in January could give you 6 more
weeks to earn money while living at home.
Cost of living
Going to a place with a lower
cost of living can reduce your
spending money by several
Volunteering in Paris could be
a lot more expensive than
volunteering in Mexico, even
with the same program,
because of your personal costs.
Don’t forget about your deposit for your apartment that will be returned
if you clean everything up before you go. What will you do with your car
and cell phone—can you get a few hundred dollars from them?
Can your brother
rent your car
while you’re gone?
Get all of your
while you’re gone.
Usually the discounts offered
by organizations to pay the
full amount up front ends up
being more than what your
parents will charge for a
short-term loan to be able to
do it, or even the interest you
will pay if you finance it.
Don’t forget about your tax refund.
(you can usually get it in early February if you file electronically)
What about your parent’s tax refund?
Hey…it’s always worth a try. You may be getting them a $1,000
child tax credit by being their dependent!
(Just don’t tell them we told you to do that.)
Utilize the funds already
made available for you!
Student loans may apply to your program cost depending
on the loan and credits you take.
If Financial Aid covers more than tuition like housing, food,
and books, then you can use it to pay for your semester abroad.
How many credits you need to qualify for a Pell Grant?
University Credit will help with tuition costs. Find out how
by downloading ILP’s e-book on how to earn credit while abroad.
Talk to your employer (if they know you are going and are supportive)
and make sure they understand that you will be volunteering
Ask for more hours. Two hours
more a week for three months can
be a couple hundred dollars (if you
don’t spend it).
Your employer may want to make a
tax-deductible donation to your
organization to cut down your fees.
Your employer may have a
where they give a donation to match
what you pay to your organization.
A temporary raise might be easier
to justify if you will be volunteering
for a non-profit organization.
What people plan on paying is usually
less than what they end up paying.
There is no way to avoid it, even if
your semester abroad is on a cruise
ship—there will be costs that you
didn’t think about.
They aren’t intentionally hidden
(in most cases), but they often
don’t come up until it’s too late
to do anything about them.
We’ve created a list of 18 of the biggest hidden costs with a few
tips on how to economize on them. Whether you save or not, be sure to
find out about them before you go!
Airfare. Is it included? Count on $1,300 to $2,000 if you are flying to
Visas. Visas cost anywhere from $75 to $500 depending on the country
and when you apply.
Visa registration. Many countries require you to register a visa after
you arrive, and a fee of $25 to $150 is charged.
Overstay visa fees. If you stay longer to travel, but your visa doesn’t
allow you to, you may have to pay a fee that is calculated daily and can be
hundreds of dollars in just a week.
Extra Travel. If you want to go to a nearby country and tour around
before going all the way home, some organizations charge you a fee in
addition to the costs of travel.
Departure airport. Find out where the group you are going with
departs from if they pay your airfare. Some groups pay for airfare but
require you to depart from a particular airport or one of a few that
could cost you hundreds of dollars to get to.
Clothes. Will you need to have special clothes for the country you
are going to or for the work that you will be doing?
Housing. Is housing provided? Do you need to pay utilities (electricity,
Food. Is food provided? How many meals? What about weekends?
Is it local food or American and will you have to buy your own food if
you can’t eat what is served? If you get a food stipend, how much is it?
Supplies. Do you need to bring any supplies with you?
Airline changes/problems. What if a flight is cancelled or delayed
and it is someone else’s fault? Do you pay the fees or does the organization?
Baggage fees. Most airlines charge $75-125 for luggage (usually for a
second check-in). Does the organization pay for that? Can you bring
Transportation from airport. When you arrive in-country and
when you leave to come home, who takes you and your luggage to the
airport or picks you up from the airport? That can cost $50-$100 each way.
Local transportation. When you are in country, how do you get
around and who pays for it?
Passport. A passport costs from $165 to several hundred depending on
how fast you need to get it. Does the organization pay for your passport?
Training. Who pays to train you if you need to be trained? Is there
an extra fee for training?
Application fees. Is there an application or registration fee in
addition to the advertised program fee?
Buying materials from org. Does the organization require you
to buy materials from them such as training materials or other materials
you will need to go with them?