Affordable programs / Cost-minded search


Review these suggestions for selecting an affordable study abroad program:

  • Consider the cost of various destinations
  • Some countries and localities may be significantly cheaper in terms of living expenses
  • Bigger cities and Western European countries may seem like attractive choices, but living elsewhere can save significant money and still be equally culturally and socially enriching
  • Compare costs of SDSU to study abroad costs to calculate the difference (or “real cost”)
  • Consider long-term versus short-term study: In many cases, semester/academic year programs may be proportionally more affordable. Students often have less state and federal aid available for summer terms. Long-term may provide more value per credit hour.
  • Create a personalized budget that reflects your own financial means
  • Consider amount of independent travel: To keep costs down, limit non-program related travel and consider exploring closer to host institution

Program Types

Various types of study abroad programs offer varying levels of affordability. As you work to determine the type of program that best suits your budget, consider the structural financial differences between program types:

  • SDSU Exchange: Students pay tuition at SDSU, but pay housing and meals at their host destination. This is a good program type for all countries, but may be especially affordable in cheaper or lesser developed destinations.
  • California State University International Programs (CSU-IP): Students pay tuition to the CSU and housing and meals at their host destination. These programs can be very good deals as they all run for an academic year and are subsidized by the CSU. Furthermore, scholarships are often more available to students studying for a year.
  • ISEP Exchange: Students pay tuition, housing and meals at SDSU as if living in a dorm. This can be more affordable in a country where living costs are substantially more than living on-campus at SDSU.
  • ISEP Direct: Students pay tuition, housing and meals directly to ISEP, which may be more affordable for students paying out-of-state (non-resident) tuition.  
  • Faculty-Led: Students pay either the College of Extended Studies or SDSU, for the cost of tuition and fees, housing, meals and excursions. 
  • Partner Programs: Students pay the partner program organization, which is generally a package price including tuition, housing, meals, insurance, and excursions. Partner programs listed in the Aztecs Abroad database have been approved and vetted by SDSU. When comparing partner programs it is extremely important to compare "apples to apples," meaning understand that both programs have similar features and services. Partner Programs may also be more affordable for students paying out-of-state (non-resident) tuition.