Students with Financial Need

Firstly, we at Global Learning welcome you to UCSC! We know that generally, college and higher education are usually seen as a privilege for students with financial means, and we want to assure you that you deserve to be here as much as anyone else. With that comes having equal access to the opportunities that any other student may have, including studying abroad or away from UCSC. There can be many hurdles that you may face outside of perceived financial barriers, but we are here to help you overcome them.

Managing your Finances Abroad/Away

While studying abroad or away, it is important to properly prepare to ensure that your financial needs are met during your program. To learn more about how to afford global learning, review our website here. Our Affording Global Learning webpages provide further information on:

Financial Aid and Scholarships

As a UC student, you have the financial resources and academic support to make your study abroad or away dreams a possibility. Did you know that for UC study abroad or away programs, your financial aid package goes with you and is repackaged to meet program costs? This means, regardless of where you go in the world on a UC study abroad or away program, you should receive about the same percentage of financial aid that you receive for attending UC Santa Cruz. Whether your financial aid package covers 90%, 75%, 40%, or another percentage of your undergraduate costs, know that your financial aid will go with you on a UC study abroad or away program. Our Financial Aid and Scholarships Office at UC Santa Cruz allows you to request an estimate for a financial aid package designed for a study abroad or away program. Once you receive an estimate, you can make a program budget to determine out-of-pocket costs and plan accordingly. 

There are also many study abroad/away scholarships you can apply to! Look for scholarships ahead of time, make note of deadlines, and apply to any and all scholarships that you qualify for! You can review our Explore Scholarships page as well as review our Guide to Writing A Stellar Scholarship Essay. The Gilman scholarship is a prestigious scholarship program that you can apply to if you receive a pell grant.


It is important, while abroad more than ever, to understand the value of a U.S. dollar. Visit our budgeting abroad webpage to learn more about how to manage your money while on your global learning program. 

Conversion Rates: 

The U.S. dollar abroad sometimes has more purchasing power abroad, depending on your program location. You can use this currency converter to see the conversion rate between the U.S. dollar and the local currency of your study abroad location. 

Managing your Money:

You should do research on whether your program country is largely cash or credit/debit based. You don’t want to go to a local store only to find out they only accept cards, when you brought only paper money and vice versa. Check to see if your bank has any branches abroad, as well as any fees associated with using ATM’s. You may also consider avoiding unnecessary ATM fees by taking out the maximum amount that you can at an ATM to use over a period of time. While in your residence abroad, you should also choose a secure location in your household to store any emergency physical currency like a small safe or lockbox with a key.

Credit Cards:

Many times when using your credit or debit card abroad, there are foreign transaction fees. Before going abroad, you may want to consider applying for a credit card that has 0% foreign transaction fees. This website is an example of one resource where you can review which credit cards offer 0% foreign transaction fees. We recommend that you bring at least two cards to access your funds ( debit card and one credit card). That way, you can keep one card with you and keep another in a secure place and you have a back-up option to access money. Be sure to call your bank in advance to tell them you will be studying abroad (including dates and locations) to avoid any interruptions in service.

Other Ways of Funding Your Study Abroad/Away Program


Websites like Gofundme and Kickstarter have been used by students looking for another way to finance their study abroad/away journey. Gofundme even has a special section for studying abroad. See our How to Crowdfund for Study Abroad/Away Guide.

Additional Ideas

In this day and age, side hustles are the name of the game. There are so many different ways to make a small amount of income that can add up. Here are a few ideas:

  • Are you a savvy thrift shopper? If so, buy nice clothing at thrift stores for cheap and resell them on sites like DePop and Etsy. 
  • Do you have a knack for crafts? Making your own jewelry can also be a way to make some money, by selling them on the same sites listed before. 
  • If you’re skilled at anything there are usually ways to monetize your skills. Other websites like Fiverr offer freelance work starting at 5 dollars. You can potentially advertise your skills there.

Working While Abroad

Did you know that in some countries, you can actually take on a job while studying abroad? UCEAP has compiled a list of countries that allow students to work while on a study abroad program. Please note that every country has different requirements for working within its borders. Before departure, make sure that all your requirements to work are met. But also, don’t rely on getting a job abroad as a source of income. It is not a guarantee. 

Less Financially Exhaustive Programs

There are a lot of global learning programs that may be more affordable options. For example, students may choose to study abroad or away during the academic year vs. summer as usually there is more aid available to cover program costs during fall, winter, and spring. If you are considering a semester program, spring semester options tend to be more affordable than fall semester programs. 

Choosing an Affordable Country

It should come as no surprise that some countries have a lower cost of living, compared to Santa Cruz. Some lower-cost destinations include Barbados, Hong Kong, Mexico, Brazil, China, Singapore, Costa Rica, Taiwan, Ghana, and Thailand. You can view a list of affordable programs on our website here.

Alternative Programs 

The UC also offers other programs that may be more affordable options, due to lower living expenses or no airfare costs. Here are some alternatives to studying internationally: 

  • UCDCUCDC is a UC-systemwide study away program that takes students to our nation’s capital. Students take classes, attend a weekly seminar, and work at an internship concurrently. 
  • UCSC Virtual Global InternshipsGo global virtually and explore your career interests by choosing to intern with an international company from the comfort of your own home. The internship program takes place during Summer Session and students participate in classes concurrently to enhance their experience.

What To Do When You Get Abroad

So you finally made it abroad! The question now is what can you do to save yourself some funds while studying abroad.

Avoid Tourist Traps

Tourist traps come in all shapes and sizes. From severely overpriced knick-knack stores to a guy offering to give you a tour of the city for a heavily discounted price. There is no definitive guide to every tourist trap in every country, but think carefully about whether what you’re getting is a good and worthwhile price or not.

Eat Locally 

Eating locally can be a great way to immerse yourself in the cuisine of the local culture, and can sometimes be a less expensive alternative. Look inside a restaurant before you eat, and if you see a lot of tourists and expensive prices as compared to other restaurants maybe find another place. 

Utilize UCSC Resources

Just because you are abroad, that does not mean you are no longer a UCSC banana slug. UCSC has many resources to help slugs even while abroad. For example, if you are an EOP student with access to the textbook lending library, you can use your stipend to cover textbooks while abroad. The slug support program can also be a great way to get help in case you are struggling financially. 

Manage Your Personal Time 

Going out doesn’t have to mean overspending. There are small things you could do to save money. For example, if the location is close enough and it is safe to do so, you may choose to walk instead of taking a taxi or a bus. You can also choose to do activities that are free or low cost. Things like walking tours of the city, visiting museums and famous landmarks, or merely strolling around can be a great way to spend your time.

Assess Wants vs Needs

It might be difficult to not be overwhelmed and excited by all the new activities available to you. Consider if what you want to buy for yourself or as a gift for someone else is what you really want to buy. Do you really need that Eiffel Tower keychain? Or does your best friend really need the Arc de Triomphe snowglobe? Consider holding off buying souvenirs and gifts until the end of your program. You will have a better idea of how much money you still have to spend.

Student Perspectives

Additional Resources

Last modified: May 15, 2024