Managing your money

Are your finances in order for your year abroad? 6 top tips to help you

Before heading off on your year abroad, Einir from our Advice and Money Team has 6 top tips to ensure your finances are in order…

Off on your year abroad? Getting your finances in order will ensure you can live comfortably and budget for any additional adventures you want to embark on whilst you’re there. Here are 6 top tips to help!

Year Abroad blog Photo

1. Apply for funding

If you are undertaking a year abroad as part of your course, you will be eligible for student funding if you are a home, undergraduate student. How much you are eligible for depends on what you will be doing while you are abroad. Check out our intranet pages for further information, including how much tuition fees you will be charged.

Ensure you apply for your funding early and before the June deadline (9th June for SFW students and 23rd June for SFE). We know filling in your student finance application is not the most exciting thing to do, but if you do it early enough you will know exactly how much you are eligible for and when it will be paid, before you go on your year abroad. This can help you budget and plan other things such as how much rent you can afford. If you have applied early and there are problems, you also have plenty of time to sort it out before starting the year abroad.

You can now apply for your funding for 2017/18 through Student Finance Wales and Student Finance England.

Make sure you also apply for any bursaries or grants offered through the Global Opportunity Centre.


 2. Travel Grant: keep your receipts

If you will be studying abroad as part of your course (for at least 50% of an academic term) then you may be eligible for a means tested Travel Grant from Student Finance to help with your travel expenses. How much you can get depends on your household income.

The Travel Grant will only cover reasonable travel expenses and if you are eligible, you will be expected to pay the first £303 yourself. If eligible, the Travel Grant will cover:

  • Up to three return journeys between the UK and the overseas institution you are studying at during a full academic year abroad
  • Mandatory medical insurance, visas and medical expenses for the purpose of studying abroad

You have to pay for the costs first and apply to Student Finance to reimburse you. So it is really important to keep all of your travel receipts in order to claim the costs back.

If you have informed Student Finance that you will be studying abroad, you will be sent a Course Abroad Form. The Global Opportunity Centre can complete this form for you. Once Student Finance receives confirmation that you are studying abroad and they assess your household income to be under the threshold to receive a Travel Grant, they will send you a Travel Grant Form.

The Travel Grant is not available to students on a work placement abroad unless the student is on the Erasmus+ scheme and is undertaking study, work, or combined work and study periods as part of their course.


3. Make a note of when you will be paid

If you have applied for funding before the June deadline, you will get a breakdown from Student Finance of how much you will be paid and when.

If you will be studying abroad, you should receive your first instalment 25 working days earlier than usual.  If you have to travel abroad sooner than 25 working days before the start of the academic year, you can request for the first instalment to be paid earlier. If this is the case, please contact the Advice and Money Team.

In certain countries, (usually, but not limited to the USA, Canada, Australia & New Zealand) the university year runs across 2 semesters rather than the standard 3 terms in the UK. In these instances you can request to be paid across 2 instalments rather than the standard 3. If this is requested you will receive 50% of your funding in your usual 1st instalment (unless early payment has been requested) and then you will receive the remaining 50% on or around the standard second term start date of Cardiff University (January 2018).

In some countries (usually China, Japan & Russia) you may be required to show that you have the money to support yourself financially for the year prior to gaining access into the country. In these instances Student Finance can pay the full student entitlement for the year on your first instalment date (unless requested otherwise). A student MUST also be abroad for the full academic year to request this payment.

Alternatively, if you are studying (or on a placement) in China, Japan or Russia and don’t require your entitlement paid up front in one instalment and would rather not be paid in three instalments, Student Finance would consider a request for payment in two instalments if required.

To request to be paid in shorter instalments please contact the Advice and Money Team. The sooner you apply for funding, the sooner you will be able to demonstrate that you will have funding in place before entering the country.


If you will be undertaking your work placement abroad, you will be paid in the standard 3 instalment as in previous academic years.

Also make a note of when other funding such as Erasmus + grant and other Global Opportunity Centre grants will be paid.


4. Work out a budget

We know working out a budget is not the most exciting thing to do with your spare time but by doing so before you go on your year abroad you can plan for more fun stuff like putting money away to go travelling.

First things first, you need to work out how much income you will have and when it will be paid. Applying for Student Finance early will help with this.

The next step is working out your expenditure for the year. You will need to make a list of your essential costs first, things such as rent, bills, travel costs, food, clothes etc. At this point we would advise you to do some research on the cost of living in the country you will be attending. Find out what the average rent is, what to expect to pay in bills and the cost of food. A good place to start looking is on the website of the university you will be attending, if you are going to study abroad. Check out websites that advertise accommodation, such as Gumtree. Speak to students who undertook their year abroad where you intend to go and ask them how much they spent or budgeted. Once you have an idea of your essential costs, you can start thinking about how much money you can put aside for the fun stuff.

There are good websites out there that can help you with your research, such as Global Graduates.



5. Look at opening a bank account in the country you’ll be living

Taking money out of your UK bank account while you are abroad can be expensive. Check prior to going how easy it is to open a bank account in the country you will be living. Your funding from the UK will be paid into your UK bank account but you might want to transfer the money into another bank account so that you’re not charged every time you take money out. If you will be working and paid while abroad, they will want to pay you into a bank account in that country. Try and open a bank account as soon as you arrive. The European Commission offers a pretty good guide about opening a bank account within the EU. International banks, such as HSBC and Santander can give you advice if you bank with them and need to access your money abroad.

If opening a bank account isn’t possible, there might be other options such as using a currency card. This is similar to a debit card that you might use at home but a currency card is pre-loaded with the currency of the country you are travelling to. You can use the card to withdraw money from ATMs around the world and pay for goods directly.



6. Make a note of important contact details in case of emergency

Hopefully nothing will go wrong and you won’t have to worry about who to contact in an emergency. But for peace of mind note down whom you need to get in contact with just in case. This will depend on the type of emergency and further information can be found on the intranet.

While you are on your year abroad, you are still a student at Cardiff University, so if you experience a crisis that affects your money please get in touch with the Advice and Money Team as you can apply to the Financial Assistance Programme as a Cardiff University student.


We hope you have a fantastic time on your year abroad! If you need to contact us about money before you go or while you’re on your year abroad, please do so.


Come and see us in Advice and Money

Student Support Services at Cardiff University are here to help you, please drop in or contact us should you have any questions. Telephone: 02920 874844 Email:


Your feedback and help please

Have you found this blog post useful?  Please help us by commenting in the comments bar below, and  if there is anything further you’d like to know ask your questions there too.

We’d also be grateful if you can share this information by re-tweeting or sharing with your fellow students who may find this useful – you can do this by using the share buttons or via twitter and facebook.


Best Wishes,

Einir, Advice and Money Team.

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