What Is the Dean’s List?

What Is the Dean’s List? Typical Dean’s List Requirements & Benefits

The dean’s list is a list of undergraduate students recognized for outstanding academic achievement in a given semester, quarter, or year. Each college and university has different dean’s list requirements, but students who finish the term with a high grade point average (GPA) and are in the top percentile of their class for academic performance can earn a spot on the dean’s list.

Not only is having the dean’s list award on your transcript a remarkable personal achievement, but it could also make a big impact on grad school admissions and future employers.

Dean’s List Meaning

The dean’s list is a scholarly award for undergraduate students who achieved high scholastic standing during the academic year. The award is released after each semester, quarter, or academic year and is typically based on a student’s GPA. However, specific dean’s list requirements will vary by institution and can change each term.

Dean’s List Requirements

Dean’s list requirements vary by college and can change each term, but there are typical conditions that a student must meet. To meet basic dean’s list requirements, students must:

•   Meet the minimum GPA requirements set by the school.

•   Be in the top percentile of their class for academic achievement.

•   Be taking a minimum number of credit hours. Most schools require students to be enrolled full-time, but some schools may include part-time students in the dean’s list.

•   Have zero incompletes, no shows, or late grades.

What GPA Is Needed to Make the Dean’s List?

While schools may base eligibility for the dean’s list on the student’s GPA, the award is comparative rather than absolute. The award is only given to the top percentile of students rather than everyone who earns a certain GPA. This means that the required GPA can change each semester based on the academic performance of the student body.

Students can strive for a GPA of 3.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale and be taking a minimum of 12 credit hours, but this may be different depending on your school and your degree program. Check with your school to determine the minimum GPA requirement to make the dean’s list.

Recommended: How Much Does GPA Matter When Applying to College?

What Is the Benefit of Being on the Dean’s List?

Earning a spot on the dean’s list is one of the highest levels of recognition for academic achievement. Students who earn the award can enjoy a variety of benefits that can continue throughout their educational career and beyond.

Personal Achievement

Making it onto the dean’s list requires academic commitment and dedication. Being on the dean’s list means you’ve ranked in the top percentile amongst your peers, which will be noted on your school record and should be seen as a great personal achievement.

Prestige

Having your name on the dean’s list, especially for multiple terms, is one way to help you stand out from the crowd. The dean’s list award is a testament to your academic success and has traditionally been looked upon favorably by the school’s administration as well as by other students.

Recognition

Some schools recognize students who made it onto the dean’s list by posting students’ names on the school website and sometimes local publications. Outstanding academic performance can also help you build relationships with your professors, who may be able to write letters of recommendation and references later on.

Special Events

Because your GPA is ranked among the top of your class, you might receive invitations to special events. These are typically networking events with top company executives. Networking can allow you to form connections with other people in your field of study and open the door to possible employment opportunities.

Attract Prospective Employers

Some colleges may include your dean’s list award on your school transcript, and you can also attract potential employers by mentioning this award on your resume. However, employment website Indeed doesn’t recommend adding this achievement to your resume if you were only on the dean’s list for one or two semesters or inconsistently.

Even if you don’t include the dean’s list on your resume, prospective employers may still consider your GPA when making hiring decisions. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ Job Outlook 2022 Spring Update report, 43.5% of employers screen by GPA when making interviewing and hiring decisions.

Scholarships

While being on the dean’s list doesn’t guarantee any financial aid, a high GPA could make you eligible for merit scholarships. Merit-based scholarships typically use your GPA, test scores, leadership capabilities, and other factors to determine your eligibility.

Are There Any Student Loan Benefits When Getting on the Dean’s List?

There usually aren’t any financial perks for getting on the dean’s list with federal student loans or most private lenders. Some private lenders may offer a reward for a certain GPA, but most lenders typically only consider your GPA if it’s too low.

Your GPA could affect your eligibility for other types of financial aid, like scholarships and grants, though. You’re required to make Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) to meet the basic eligibility criteria for certain types of financial aid. A higher GPA also makes it easier for you to receive more financial aid.


💡 Quick Tip: You can fund your education with a low-rate, no-fee private student loan that covers all school-certified costs.

What Other Academic Awards Can You Earn in College?

The dean’s list isn’t the only academic award that you can earn in college. There are several other awards that are given to students in recognition of outstanding achievement and as a means to further encourage academic excellence. Here are a few academic awards for college students.

The Honors List

The honors list is similar to the dean’s list; however, it may have different GPA requirements — usually lower. For example, students may be eligible for a spot on the dean’s list if their GPA is 3.5 or higher, while students on the honors list have a GPA between 3.25 and 3.5.

The President’s List

Undergraduate students earn the president’s list award if they get straight A’s in college and earn a 4.0 GPA. Part-time and full-time students may be eligible for this award.

The Chancellor’s List

At schools that offer this award, the chancellor’s list is typically ranked slightly higher than the dean’s list. Both full-time and part-time undergraduate students may usually qualify for the chancellor’s list.

Ways to Pay for College

If you’re aiming to see your name on the dean’s list, financial stress can hinder your ability to succeed academically. According to Inside Higher Ed, 48% of students who experienced financial challenges while in school admitted they had difficulties focusing on their academics.

Luckily, there are options out there for prospective and current students who are struggling with how to pay for college. Here are a few options:

•   Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) to see if you qualify for financial aid. Make sure to read our FAFSA Guide and fill this out as soon as possible because many colleges award money on a first-come, first-served basis.

•   Search for scholarships, which are a form of merit aid to help pay for tuition and other education expenses. There are thousands of available scholarships to students with some even offering a full-ride to a four-year institution.

•   Apply for grants. Grants are another form of financial aid that doesn’t need to be repaid. Students can apply for federal, state, or school grants.

•   Find a work-study position. The federal work-study program offers funds for part-time employment to help college students in financial need.

•   Look at student loans. If you are still struggling to afford school-related expenses after exhausting all other forms of financial aid, there are a variety of federal and private student loan options to help.

Recommended: FAFSA 101: How to Complete the FAFSA

The Takeaway

Students who make the dean’s list are recognized for outstanding academic achievement. Benefits include personal achievement, prestige, public recognition, the opportunity to attend special events, being granted scholarships, and standing out on job applications.

And, students who are less stressed financially tend to do better in school. Options for paying for college include scholarships, grants, federal student loans, and private student loans.

If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.


Cover up to 100% of school-certified costs including tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation with a private student loan from SoFi.

FAQ

What GPA is required to get on the dean’s list?

The minimum GPA for the dean’s list varies by school and it can change every term. However, most schools require at least a 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale.

What does it mean when you get on the dean’s list?

What it means to be on the dean’s list is that you’ve ranked in the top percentile of your class. The dean’s list is one of the highest levels of recognition for scholarly achievement.

What is the benefit of being on the dean’s list?

Earning a spot on the dean’s list comes with several benefits. Not only is it a prestigious award and a significant personal achievement, but you could be invited to special events, network with others in your field of study, and attract prospective employers.


Photo credit: iStock/Prostock-Studio

SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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Private vs. Public College: The Pros & Cons of Both

When it comes to selecting a college, one big consideration is whether to attend a private vs. public college. A key difference between private and public colleges lies in how they are funded and operated. Public colleges get much of their funding from local and state governments, while private ones are largely sustained with tuition, fees, and donations.

Going the public route is the most common scenario. In the fall of 2023, approximately 13.5 million students attended public institutions while 5.1 million were enrolled in private institutions, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Students who are debating between private and public colleges may want to consider factors like cost, quality of education, campus life, and how they plan to pay for college. Read on for more information on each of these categories.

Public vs Private Colleges: Factors to Consider

Choosing a college is a personal decision, so it’s important to factor in individual goals and needs as you compare private vs. public colleges. In addition to the factors below, things like what you hope to study and how close you’d like to be to home will influence how you choose a college.

Now, let’s dig into more about potential advantages and drawbacks of public vs private colleges.

The Cost of Public vs Private Colleges

Many students wonder if they should choose a college based on price. One reason that attending public colleges is the more popular route is that they are often less expensive than private institutions. Public institutions are often especially affordable for in-state students, who typically get a break on tuition.

According to research by the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees at a public college with in-state tuition during the 2023-2024 school year was $11,260, and $29,150 for out-of-state students. At private colleges, the average tuition and fees was $41,540.

That said, private colleges and universities may also offer scholarships, fellowships, and other kinds of need- or merit-based financial aid. And, even some top-tier universities have virtually done away with tuition for students whose families have certain levels of family income. So, high-achieving students might actually get a better or comparable deal at a private institution depending on their family’s financial situation.

Recommended: The Average Cost of College Tuition in 2024

Differences in Educational Quality

According to U.S. News, the highest ranking public schools in the country include UCLA, UC Berkeley, the University of Virginia, the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At these schools and many others, students can get a top-notch education at a fair price if they qualify for in-state tuition.

However, many public schools have enormous student populations, which can mean large class sizes, difficulty getting into your most desired classes, and less personal attention from faculty and administrators. For example, the University of Central Florida has just over 59,000 undergraduates, resulting in a student-to-faculty ratio of 29 to 1.

By comparison, Pomona College in Southern California has a population of just under 1,800 students (fall 2022) and a student-to-faculty ratio of just eight students to one faculty member, according to U.S. News. Beyond class size, some private institutions are often able to deliver a world-class education. In fact, every one of the top 10 highest-ranking schools in the country are all private schools.

Specific Majors or Programs of Study Available

Private colleges, particularly smaller liberal arts colleges, may have fewer majors or programs available to students than larger public universities. As you are evaluating schools, consider the field(s) of study you are most interested in and understand the options available at the schools you are considering.

On a related note, students interested in pursuing research opportunities may have a better chance of conducting research at a larger university. However, private universities are likely conducting research, too. It’s best to consider the programs you are specifically interested in and ask an admissions counselor what research opportunities are available to undergraduates in that field or major.

Recommended: A Guide to Choosing the Right College Major

Campus Life

For some students, the large size of many public institutions is a factor in the pro column. This environment means there are a great variety of potential groups to join, activities to participate in, or classmates to become friends with.

A large school means many different classes and majors to choose from. If this appeals to you, it can expand your network and make your college experience much more interesting. Private schools are also likely to have clubs and activities available for students, too, though it may be on a smaller scale.

Both public and private schools can be a great choice for students interested in athletics. Public schools are most likely to have a wide variety of active sports teams, and most of the top-ranking colleges for student athletes are public.

However, many private universities have successful teams, as well. If it’s important to you, or you’re a student athlete yourself, you could check out the strength of specific sports programs at the colleges you’re considering.

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Financing Your Education

Some students and their families cover tuition costs (or a portion of costs) with savings, but there are a variety of other sources of finances to help students pay for college. As mentioned, public universities generally have a less expensive sticker price than private schools, but private schools may offer more financial aid to students. So, don’t rule out a private school on cost alone.

To apply for federal student aid, the first step is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). Colleges will use this information to help determine how much aid, and what types, a student qualifies for. Federal aid includes things like Pell Grants for low-income students, work-study, and federal student loans. Both private and public schools may offer scholarships to students, as well.

Federal Student Loans

Federal loan options include Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and Direct PLUS Loans.

For the 2023-2024 school year, the interest rate on Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized loans for undergraduates is 5.50%, the rate on Direct Unsubsidized loans for graduate and professional students is 7.05%, and the rate on Direct PLUS loans for graduate students, professional students, and parents is 8.05%. The interest rates on federal student loans are fixed and are set annually by Congress.

Private Student Loans

For students who still need additional funding, a variety of lenders offer private student loans. Private student loans typically take the borrower’s credit history, and that of any cosigner, into consideration. And while federal student loan interest rates are always fixed, private student loan interest rates can be fixed or variable.

Keep in mind, though, that private student loans do not offer the same benefits as federal student loans, such as income-driven repayment plans and student loan forgiveness. If possible, it’s wise to exhaust all federal aid options before seeking private student loans.

The Takeaway

Both public and private colleges and universities can offer an excellent education to students. Differences to consider when deciding between a private or public school include the cost, the programs of study available to students, the quality of education, campus life, and sources of funding for school. Depending on individual preferences and circumstances, students may find a public school better suits their needs or vice versa.

If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.


Cover up to 100% of school-certified costs including tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation with a private student loan from SoFi.



SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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Is Studying Abroad Worth It?

The chance to study abroad offers unique opportunities and experiences you simply can’t get at home. Taking some time to attend a college or university in another country can be personally and professionally enriching, and even life-changing. These factors can make studying abroad absolutely worth it.

But going to school in a foreign country isn’t for everyone. Being away from home and loved ones can lead to homesickness and the feeling you’re missing out (FOMO) on important family or college events back on your home turf. Depending on where you study, there could be a language barrier that can be frustrating and the cost could be higher than staying at your home university.

If you’re thinking of attending school in another country, there are numerous factors to consider. Read on to learn about how studying abroad works, its benefits and costs, and how to decide whether or not it’s worth it.

What Does It Mean to Study Abroad?

College study abroad programs allow a student to pursue undergraduate or graduate study in another country. Each year, more than 300,000 American students study, engage in internships, or volunteer abroad for academic credits, according to the U.S. Department of State. Study abroad college programs typically last one semester or a full year, but can be as short as a couple of weeks.

You may be able to study abroad through your home university’s study abroad program. This is often the most straightforward route, since it will be easy to earn credits that will directly apply to your degree requirements.

However, there are other ways you can spend a semester or year attending college in a foreign country. One is by directly enrolling at a foreign university where you may be able to use those course credits towards your degree at your home college or university. Another option is to go through a third-party study abroad provider such as Academic Programs International (API), the Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE), or the American Institute for Foreign Study.


💡 Quick Tip: You can fund your education with a low-rate, no-fee private student loan that covers all school-certified costs.

Why Study Abroad Is Worth It

Going to school in another part of the world can be an incredible opportunity. Here’s a look at some of the benefits of studying abroad.

It Can Change the Way You See the World

Studying in another country allows you to become a more well-rounded and worldly individual. Immersing yourself in a different culture, set of customs, and traditions can broaden your horizons and expand your worldview. Meeting and interacting with an international mix of people can help you gain other perspectives and a deeper understanding of global issues. It also helps foster tolerance, empathy, and more open-mindedness.

Learn a Foreign Language

There’s only so much of a second language you can learn in a classroom. A great way to gain fluency in a foreign language is by living in that country and conversing with the locals. Even if your abroad program offers classes in English, living in a foreign country can help you become proficient or fluent in another language. This, in turn, can expand your employment possibilities and attractiveness to employers, and might allow you to work abroad after college.

Broaden Your Social Network

Even if you participate in a study abroad program run by your home university, you’ll have an opportunity to meet new people — both from the U.S. and abroad. The connections you make can turn into life-long friendships and provide social contacts who may be helpful for networking after graduation.

Increase Your Self-Confidence

Living on your own in a foreign country, where you don’t have a built-in safety net, can foster more independence and self-reliance. Navigating everyday life somewhere unfamiliar gets you out of your comfort zone and you’ll most likely have to learn to problem-solve and make decisions on your own. Choosing to study abroad can result in more self-confidence than if you had stayed at your home school all four years.

Recommended: Using Student Loans for Living Expenses and Housing

Costs Could Be The Same Or Lower

Depending on the type of program and location you choose, the cost of study abroad could be comparable to your home university. If you choose your school’s study abroad program, the tuition may be the same as if you stayed stateside. If the cost of living is lower (or the exchange rate is favorable to the U.S.dollar) where you travel to, you could potentially end up spending less.

Generally, directly enrolling in a foreign institution is cheaper than study abroad programs run by American universities or third-party providers. In many cases, you can also use your financial aid package to study abroad.

When Study Abroad Isn’t Worth It

While studying abroad offers numerous perks, there are also some drawbacks. When mulling over whether or not you should study abroad, here’s some potential cons to keep in mind.

Risk of Homesickness

Living and studying in another part of the world can result in feeling intensely homesick. Even though you might have new friends and be surrounded by others, being far from your loved ones and long-time friends may cause you to feel lonely and depressed. If you’re especially close to your family, you may experience FOMO because you’re not able to get home for events, like birthdays, weddings, or family gatherings that occur while you’re abroad.

Recommended: A Guide to Making Friends in College

Language and Culture Barriers

In a foreign country, everything will likely be different — the food, the language, the architecture. Even the local customs and social norms may be different. While this can be a positive (and a reason to go), you might find it hard to acclimate and constantly feel like a stranger in a strange land.

Costs May Be High

While studying abroad may seem like a priceless opportunity, it can come with a hefty price tag. Semester abroad programs through a third-party provider can run between $15,000 and $22,000 depending on location. These programs usually include housing and sometimes meals.

Aside from tuition, you will need to budget for other expenses like housing (if it’s not included), meals, airfare, transportation, entertainment, and books and supplies.

If your financial aid package, including federal student loans, isn’t enough to cover the tab, some private student loans can help fill in funding gaps. However, private loans don’t offer the same borrower protections (like income-driven repayment plans) as their federal counterparts.


💡 Quick Tip: Even if you don’t think you qualify for financial aid, you should fill out the FAFSA form. Many schools require it for merit-based scholarships, too.

International Credits May Not Transfer

If you go on a study abroad program run by your college or a major third-party provider, you likely won’t have any issues transferring credits, but this could be a problem if you enroll directly in a foreign university. Non-transferring credits could make it harder to graduate on time.

What to Know About Academics When Studying Abroad

Academically, studying alongside international students can offer a more diverse educational experience by exposing you to new insights, viewpoints, and ideas.

Studying abroad also gives you the opportunity to learn from professors who may use different teaching methods than American professors, such as greater use of group discussions or project-based learning. Plus, you may have the chance to take field trips to historical sights and museums as part of the curriculum.

Studying abroad also comes with some academic limitations. All majors may not be available as part of a study abroad program, even if your home school has an affiliation with a foreign university. For some students (particularly those with STEM majors), studying abroad could make it harder to complete all of their degree requirements within four years, leading to higher education costs.

The Takeaway

There’s a lot to take into consideration when thinking about whether or not you should study abroad, including cost, whether or not course credits are transferable, and how it will feel to be far from home for an extended period of time.

For many students, studying abroad is definitely worth it. Plus, there are scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options available to help offset the expenses. Ultimately, whether study abroad is worth the cost depends on your individual circumstances, goals, and priorities.

If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.

Cover up to 100% of school-certified costs including tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation with a private student loan from SoFi.

FAQ

Is it a good idea to study abroad?

Studying abroad can be a fantastic opportunity for personal, academic, and professional growth. It allows you to immerse yourself in a new culture, gain a broader perspective, and develop valuable skills, such as independence and adaptability. It can also enhance your resume, making you more competitive in the job market.

However, it’s important to consider language barriers, cultural differences, and potential homesickness. Overall, if you’re open to new experiences and willing to step out of your comfort zone, studying abroad can be a life-changing experience.

Is study abroad worth the cost?

While studying abroad can increase the cost of your college education, many students find the experience to be invaluable. The benefits of studying abroad, such as personal growth, cultural immersion, and enhanced academic and career opportunities, often outweigh the financial costs. Plus, there are scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options available to help offset the expenses.

Ultimately, whether study abroad is worth the cost depends on your individual circumstances, goals, and priorities.

What are the pros and cons of studying abroad?

Studying abroad offers numerous advantages, such as experiencing a new culture, gaining independence, expanding your network, and improving language skills. It can also enhance your academic and career prospects, as employers often value the skills and experiences gained from studying abroad.

But there are challenges as well, including language barriers, cultural differences, homesickness, and the financial cost. It’s essential to weigh these pros and cons carefully and consider how studying abroad aligns with your personal and academic goals.


Photo credit: iStock/AlexSecret

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Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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How Much Does It Cost to Study Abroad?

College study abroad programs offer students an extraordinary chance to explore a new part of the world while earning credit toward a degree. Each year, more than 300,000 American students study, engage in internships, or volunteer abroad for academic credits, according to the U.S. Department of State.

Despite the culturally rich and memorable experience this offers, the cost of studying abroad can be a barrier to many students. On average, study abroad programs cost between $15,000 and $22,000 per semester.

Read on to learn more about the costs involved in spending a semester or year abroad, how financial aid can help, plus other ways to make studying abroad more affordable.

Average Cost of Study Abroad Programs

The cost of studying abroad depends on two main factors — where you go and whether you enroll directly through your host university or use a third-party provider.

Generally, enrolling in a third-party study abroad program is more expensive. It provides you with more hand-holding and guidance in the pre-planning stages and while you’re living and studying overseas.

Average study abroad costs through a third-party provider can range anywhere from $15,000 to $22,000 per semester depending on location. These programs usually include housing and sometimes meals. Depending on the country, the cost of tuition could be significantly lower if you directly enroll in a foreign university.

If your home school has its own study abroad program, the tuition may be the same as it is stateside, though they may tack on some extra fees.

The cost of studying abroad goes beyond tuition, however. You will need to budget for other expenses like housing (if it’s not included), meals, airfare, transportation, entertainment, and books and supplies.


💡 Quick Tip: You can fund your education with a low-rate, no-fee private student loan that covers all school-certified costs.

What the Cost to Study Abroad Covers

Here’s a breakdown of some of the key costs involved in studying abroad.

Getting There

You’ll need a round-trip plane ticket to get to and from your study abroad program, which can cost anywhere from several hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on what part of the world you travel to. On top of your flight costs, you’ll need a passport. A new U.S. passport costs $165 and can take up to 10 weeks to process.

Many countries also require American students to get a travel visa in advance when visiting the country for studies. Costs vary widely by country. A student visa from Australia costs around $450, while one from South Africa runs about $36. Some countries, like Germany, don’t require U.S. visitors to get a student visa for studying abroad.

Recommended: 11 Ways to Make College More Affordable

Tuition and Living Costs

Typically, the price of a study abroad program will include tuition and fees at your host school, as well as some form of housing. If you directly enroll in a foreign university, you’ll need to pay tuition and housing separately. Either way, food is generally an additional expense.

Here are some examples of how much it can cost to study and live abroad:

In you go to Italy:

•   Average cost of a semester (including housing) through a third-party provider: $17,000-$21,300

•   Average cost of a semester (without housing) through direct enrollment: $1,500-$6,000

•   Average monthly cost of living (including rent): $1,200-$1,700

If you go to Costa Rica:

•   Average cost of a semester (without housing) through direct enrollment: $1,500-$3,000

•   Average cost of a semester (including housing) through a third-party provider: $8,500-$11,500

•   Average monthly cost of living (including rent): $1,100-$1,400

Recommended: How to Budget as a College Student

Local Transportation

Transportation expenses likely aren’t covered in the cost of your program. You might decide to take public transportation and purchase a metro pass, or rely on rideshare services. Either way, you’ll likely encounter some form of transportation cost while you’re abroad.

You may also want to take excursions to other cities or countries during time away. So it’s a good idea to factor in some extra funds for airfare/train tickets, food, and lodging for nearby travel. Keep in mind that financial aid won’t cover voluntary travel expenses beyond the cost of your initial round-trip flight.

Recommended: What to Do When Financial Aid Isn’t Enough

Insurance

Many U.S. universities require students studying abroad to enroll in a health emergency insurance plan to make sure they have adequate coverage for medical issues and emergencies. At New York University, for example, students studying abroad must be covered under the NYU sponsored Study Away health insurance plan, which costs around $72 per month.

Other Fees

Your home school may charge you a study abroad administrative fee. At Washington State University, for example, this fee runs around $300 for one semester abroad (for in-state students). At the University of Iowa, it runs around $1,140 for one semester abroad (for in-state students). You can check with your school’s education abroad office to see how much you might be charged.

In addition, the study abroad program you choose may come with optional costs, like class field trips, short excursions, or cooking classes with a local chef.

Recommended: How to Work Abroad After College

How to Pay for Study Abroad

If you’re worried about the high cost of studying abroad, there is good news: Much of your existing financial aid can likely be used for study abroad costs. Here’s a look at how to find funding for study abroad.

Grants and Scholarships

To find out what financial aid you qualify for, you’ll want to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In addition to FAFSA-based scholarships and grants, there are many scholarships targeted specifically at students studying abroad, which you can uncover using a scholarship search engine. Third-party companies that facilitate study abroad programs also often have their own scholarships.

Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans (which may be subsidized or unsubsidized) can be used to pay for study abroad expenses, provided the school you’re attending abroad is eligible to participate in the Direct Loan program.

Federal study abroad loans for U.S. students can be used to pay tuition and fees, room and board, and other eligible expenses. Any leftover funds are disbursed to you, which you could use for travel to your destination country or basic living expenses. However, federal loans may not cover all the costs of studying overseas.


💡 Quick Tip: Federal student loans carry an origination or processing fee (1.057% for Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans first disbursed from Oct. 1, 2020, through Oct. 1, 2024). The fee is subtracted from your loan amount, which is why the amount disbursed is less than the amount you borrowed. That said, some private student loan lenders don’t charge an origination fee.

Private Student Loans

If you max out the amount you can borrow in federal loans, you can turn to private student loans to finance the remaining costs. Approval for private student loans typically hinges on your credit history. You may need a cosigner for approval if you haven’t established a credit history or your credit score is lower than the minimum score the lender requires.

Private student loans offer more borrowing power than you can get with the U.S. government, but don’t offer the same protections (like income-based repayment plans). Rates are also typically higher.

Affordable Study Abroad Programs to Check Out

Here a sampling of study abroad programs that often offer affordable prices:

•   CIS Abroad (worldwide programs)

•   World Endeavors (worldwide programs)

•   International Studies Abroad (ISA) (worldwide programs)

•   Maximo Nivel (programs in Central and South America)

The Takeaway

Spending a summer, semester, or full year abroad can significantly enhance your college experience. But it can also significantly increase the cost, coming in at upwards of $15,000 per semester. Fortunately, there are funding options available to help students manage the cost of study abroad, including scholarships, grants, and student loans.

If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.

Cover up to 100% of school-certified costs including tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation with a private student loan from SoFi.

FAQ

What’s the cheapest country to study abroad in?

Some of the cheapest locales to study abroad in include:

•   Kyrgyzstan

•   Malaysia

•   Central Asia

•   Hungary

•   Poland

•   Kenya

•   Brazil

•   Mexico

•   South Africa

•   Portugal

Does FAFSA cover study abroad?

Yes. If you qualify for student aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), your awarded aid funds can typically be used toward study abroad costs. The school you attend while studying abroad must participate in federal aid programs, however, and your FAFSA aid might not cover the entire cost of studying in another country.

Is a year too long to study abroad?

Not necessarily. How long you should study abroad is a personal preference and based on your budget. The latest 2023 Open Doors U.S. Study Abroad Survey found that 49% of study abroad students go for the summer term, 30% go for one semester, 2.4% go for one year.


Photo credit: iStock/wsfurlan

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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How Much Does a College Student Spend a Month?

Going to college is a costly proposition. On top of tuition and fees, you’ll also need to come up with funds for food, housing, and other living expenses. It can be helpful to develop a rough estimate of what expenses you can expect in college well before you head off to campus and come with a monthly student budget.

The question is, how much money do college students spend per month?

The answer will depend on several factors, including location, extracurricular activities, whether you’re commuting or living on campus, and lifestyle preferences. According to the College Board, students can expect to spend around $2,932 a month (or $26,390 for a nine-month period) on living expenses for the 2024-25 school year.

To break that number down, let’s take a closer look at how much college students spend on food, housing, and other expenses.

Financial Considerations for College Students

The first step towards creating a college student monthly budget is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This will give you access to federal financial aid, including grants, scholarships, work-study, and student loans. Colleges may also use the FAFSA when allocating their own scholarships and grant awards to students.

Financial aid is intended to be used for college-related expenses, such as tuition and fees, textbooks and supplies, and room and board. However, it may not fully cover the cost of attending college. To cover any gaps in funding, you may need to tap multiple sources of money, such as savings, summer jobs, and taking out private student loans.

To help students figure out exactly how much money they’ll need for college, schools typically post the average cost of attendance on their websites. These listings will usually include the average cost of housing, food, books/supplies, transportation, and personal expenses for students attending that school.


💡 Quick Tip: You can fund your education with a low-rate, no-fee private student loan that covers all school-certified costs.

What Do College Students Spend Money On?

Budgeting in college will look different for every student. Some college costs will get paid up front (like tuition, fees and, in some cases, room and board), while other expenses will need to be paid on a monthly or daily basis. To estimate how much spending money you’ll need, let’s take a closer look at what college students spend money on each month, and how much they typically spend in each category.

Food

Food eats up about 30% of a college student’s monthly budget, according to the College Board. To build out a college student food budget, you’ll need to consider whether you’ll be on the school’s food plan, if you’ll do some cooking, and how often you’ll likely eat out.

On average, college students spend $670 on food per month, according to the Education Data Initiative. To break that total down further, students spend, on average, $410 a month eating off-campus and about $260 a month on groceries for cooking meals at home.

College students can choose to pay for a meal plan that provides an allotted number of meals from campus dining halls or restaurants. (Freshman are often required to purchase a meal plan). Meal plans have the benefit of being a fixed and predictable cost. The average meal plan costs $450 a month.

Housing

How much do college students spend per month on housing? Monthly housing costs will vary depending on location and whether a student lives on or off campus.

According to the College Board’s 2023 Trends in College Pricing Report, average room and board ranged from $9,970 at public two-year institutions to $14,650 at private four-year institutions for the 2023-2024 academic year. Note that room and board includes both housing and food costs, so let’s unpack the housing portion further.

The cost of living in a dorm or residence hall usually varies based on the occupancy per bedroom and number of people in a suite or apartment. You can expect to pay more for a single bedroom than a double or triple that you’ll share with other students. For example, the cost of a single occupancy room at UCLA was $15,114 for the 2023-2024 academic year; living in a double or triple cost $11,446 and $8,475, respectively.

How much students spend on off-campus housing is influenced by the cost of living by state and city, and whether they’ll live alone or with roommates. The average monthly housing cost in California ranges from $1,360 to $2,649 per month, while the average cost for Pennsylvania is between $872 and $1,259 per month.

Transportation

From getting to class to traveling home for holidays and breaks, students need to factor transportation costs into their monthly budget. How much should college students spend a month on transportation?

If you’ll be living on campus, you likely won’t need to spend a lot, since classes may be within walking distance and colleges typically provide some form of transit services, like shuttle buses, to connect academic buildings. Students living off campus may require a car to get to class, which can significantly add to transportation costs. Filling up at the pump alone costs $164 a month for the average driver in the U.S..

Transportation costs will also vary by where you go to school — and how far away it is from home. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for example, students (including those living on and off campus) spend an average of $976 per academic year on transportation. At the University of Texas at Austin, student transportation costs run $1,682 per academic year on average.

Recommended: The Financial Benefits of Community College

Miscellaneous

Your monthly college expenses will likely go beyond the big categories, like food, housing, and transportation. Some possible miscellaneous costs you may want to including in your college budget:

•   Entertainment (e.g, going to the movies, concert tickets)

•   Cell phone plan

•   Cable/internet
Prescriptions/medical expenses

•   Clothing

•   Gym membership

•   Hobbies

•   Personal grooming

•   Gifts for friends/family

•   Travel for fun (such as weekend/spring break trips with friends)

To keep your miscellaneous and personal costs from getting too high, you’ll want to keep an eye out for student discounts and take advantage of free activities offered through your college.

Is College Worth It?

There are many reasons to go to college — exploring career paths, growing your social network, having fun, and learning life skills — but the return on investment (ROI) is a key consideration when comparing schools and programs. To determine your ROI, you’ll need to look at the cost of going to college and its impact on your potential future earnings.

For the 2023-2024 academic year, the average cost of tuition and fees for a public four-year college was $11,260 as an in-state student and $29,150 for out-of-state students. Meanwhile, the average sticker price for attending a private four-year college was $41,540.

When you multiply annual college costs by four years, the final tally is no small sum. And while graduates with bachelor’s degrees typically earn more than those without, you likely won’t recoup your investment right away. So is college worth it?

According to a report by the Institute for Higher Education Policy , for the majority of students (especially those attending a public institution), having a college degree leaves them better off financially in comparison to peers who did not go to college. Their analysis found that 83% of schools (serving 93% of undergraduates) provide an ROI within 10 years. That means that within 10 years, students recoup what they would be making with a high school diploma plus the cost of their college degree.

In short, college may well be worth it.


💡 Quick Tip: Would-be borrowers will want to understand the different types of student loans that are available: private student loans, federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans, Direct PLUS loans, and more.

Pros and Cons of Going to College Online

Online college and virtual learning opportunities have become more common following the Covid-19 pandemic. On a per credit basis, online college tuition isn’t always cheaper. However, a virtual college student’s monthly budget often has lower expenses for room and board than students who live on or close to campus.

Here’s a look at some potential advantages and drawbacks to going to college online.

Pros

•   Flexible schedule: Classes are often designed to accommodate students with work or family responsibilities.

•   Convenience: Students can learn from anywhere — no commuting or relocating required.

•   Lower living expenses: When attending college virtually, you can live anywhere (even at home), which can save money on housing.

Cons

•   Fewer majors available: Degree programs and majors that require hands-on learning like lab exercises are unlikely to be offered online.

•   Limited networking: Virtual students have less opportunities to engage with professors and classmates.

•   Increased screen time: A greater reliance on technology for lectures and coursework can mean a lot of time spent in front of a computer.

How Can I Increase My Chances of Getting a Job After College?

You can increase your chances of getting a great job after college by preparing for the job hunt well before graduation.

One key strategy is to complete a college internship either during the semester or over the summer. This can provide valuable work experience while allowing you to try out different careers and job sectors. Internships are typically part-time commitments during the academic year and may be full-time during summer break. Some internships are paid, while others count as college credit. Applying and interviewing for an internship is also an opportunity to hone your interview skills before entering the post-grad job market.

You can also better your chances of getting a good job after college by taking advantage of on-campus resources. College career services offices can often provide job leads, networking opportunities with alumni and employers, and assistance preparing for interviews. It’s also a good idea to ask a professor for a letter of recommendation — a common requirement for job applications — while still enrolled in school.

The Takeaway

A college student’s monthly budget will depend on multiple factors, including geographic location, whether they live on or off campus, the type of institution, and personal habits. After tuition and fees, housing and food often represent the largest budget categories for college students. Covering the cost of college often involves tapping a mix of funding sources, including scholarships, grants, savings, and loans.

If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.


Cover up to 100% of school-certified costs including tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation with a private student loan from SoFi.


Photo credit: iStock/martin-dm

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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