Should I Study Abroad?

Holly is a college student and recently had the opportunity to study abroad. Is this the best use of her money?

QUESTION: Holly in San Diego is a college student and recently had the opportunity to study abroad. Is this the best use of her money? She doesn’t have any car payments, and she’s paying her tuition out of pocket. The study abroad would cost about $9,000. She would have to go into debt to do it. Dave tells Holly she doesn’t have the money.

ANSWER: Let’s pretend you have $10,000 extra in the bank that you didn’t need to finish school. If the question was to study abroad or open a Roth IRA, I would say to study abroad, because you’ve got the cash. But I wouldn’t tell you to go into debt to do either.

I think studying abroad can be a good thing. I had a child who did a little bit of that. To have an opportunity to expand yourself and your vision of things is wonderful, but I don’t think the payback on it, certainly in the next decade of your life, justifies the cost. I would rather you do some graduate work after you’re in the workforce and do a little bit of a work-study program abroad, or something like that.