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Study Abroad: Budget For Brazil

Author: Matthew Davis

With world-renowned beaches and vast expanses of the Amazon rainforest, Latin America's largest and most populous country could be an unforgettable study-abroad destination. In the last ten years, the number of U.S. students spending time in Brazil, one of the world's fastest growing economies, has doubled. Brazil spans nearly half of South America and is also home to the highest concentration of Latin America's best universities. In an increasingly interconnected society, gain new perspectives and a competitive advantage for future employers by joining the ranks of the nearly one in ten U.S. college students who earn credits abroad.

Choosing the Right Program

• Think about why you want to study internationally. Immerse yourself in Brazilian culture? Is it to learn Portuguese? Study an emerging economy?

• Look into which programs your home university may offer or recommend. Then, investigate at hundreds of programs at StudyAbroad101, which includes student reviews, and IIEPassport. Pay close attention to how many credits you can earn and whether each program includes flights, visa, housing, meals and/or insurance.

Can You Get Financial Aid?

A wide range of scholarship and financial aid options, including federal funds, could help finance your study abroad. For example, U.S. students studying abroad in Brazil have been awarded Boren Scholarships of up to $20,000 and Roberto Rocca Scholarships. Students receiving Federal Pell grants can also apply to the Gilman Scholarship Program. Check with your university about how your financial assistance might apply internationally. Also, research program-specific scholarships and check out Study Abroad Funding, Diversity Abroad and StudyAbroad.com.

How Much Will Study Abroad Cost?

Your university may require you to pay your regular tuition fees to study abroad. If you pay another program directly, costs will vary. Two sample programs are CIEE in São Paulo: Liberal Arts, which partners with the city's Pontifícia Universidade Católica and SIT Study Abroad Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development, which focuses on fieldwork in Fortaleza. Both programs charge similar fees of around $19,000 for one semester, including tuition, housing with a Brazilian family, intensive language training, meals, field trips and insurance. CIEE and SIT each offer millions of dollars in study abroad scholarships!

The overall cost of living in Brazil is about 50% lower than living in New York City, even with Rio de Janiero and Sao Paulo as the country's largest and more expensive cities.

Planning Your Trip

Many programs include housing, meals and insurance. If you are arranging these on your own, some budgeting tips are below:

* Flights: Flights will likely cost at least $1,000 round trip. Get the best deal by checking a website specifically for flights to Brazil, like Air Projects.

• Passport, Visas & Insurance: You'll need a valid passport valid and a one-year student visa costs around $210.10. While Brazil has free national health insurance, private healthcare is highly recommended so see if your program includes this or check out STA Travel for a package including health, travel and emergency insurance.

Housing: A homestay, which most programs will help you find, offers two major benefits as both the most economical and the best way to immerse yourself in Brazilian culture. According to Numbeo, which crowd-s its current cost-of-living calculations, the average rent throughout the country for a one-bedroom apartment is around $500 per month but in the major cities it could run up to $1000. Expect to pay $60 to $125 for utilities.

• Cell Phone: Check whether your phone will work with Brazil's GSM network. Electronics are very expensive in Brazil so bring a compatible, unlocked phone with a spot for a SIM card, which should costs under $20 in country. Check which carrier Brazilians in your area recommend, likely TIM or Vivo.

Eating, Drinking & Dancing

The best way to have exceptional experiences at decent prices is to make friends with locals and find out where they go. Use that Portuguese you're studying, avoid tourist traps and you could be sitting down to filling, low cost meals averaging less than $6. Restaurant portions are also generally very large so order two plates for a group of three! Prato feito, which is often abbreviated on menus as P.F. or PF, signals a standard plate like our blue-plate specials.

Unless you are very homesick, stay away from McDonald's, where you'll find one of the most expensive Big Macs in the world. Instead, look for self -service buffets where you pay according to the food weight and which can offer great deals. You'll probably want to explore Brazil's famed nightlife. Cover charges for clubs and live music venues could run you between $7 and $15 but a domestic beer at a restaurant should cost less than $2.20.

Getting Around While You're There

Rio and São Paulo have very effective metro systems and otherwise buses are the cheapest way to get around and between cities. Monthly public transport passes throughout the country cost between $45 to $60 per month.

The Bottom Line

Want to take your education off-campus and spend time studying in the world's most biologically diverse country not to mention winner of the most World Cup championships? Do your homework about available programs and scholarships, make a budget, and you could even make it to Brazil in time for the 2016 Summer Olympics! (For more advice on financing your study abroad, check out You CAN Afford To Study Abroad.)

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