How much it costs to study abroad in Spain is a big question and one that we are often asked. Like anything else, many variables go into it. How would you answer, “How much does a car cost?” So let’s dive into some of the factors involved and see if we can narrow it down from our perspective.
If you want to minimize the cost as much as possible, start early, even a year and a half before you might want to travel. Thinking ahead allows you to be a “smart shopper” by comparing programs.
Get to understand the process at your home campus and do an exhaustive search for all financial aid and scholarships that you might qualify for. It might also help you to find cheaper airfare from North America to Spain.
Average tuition cost for a semester in Spain
Many universities run their own programs in addition to providers, so it is difficult to provide more than a range here. Keep in mind that if your university runs a program, you typically will pay the same fees – minus your financial aid – that you do to study on campus.
Private providers such as Spanish Studies Abroad can vary a bit more. Still, a typical semester program will be about $12,000 to $20,000 for most or all of your direct expenses (not including your own trips and some spending money) or flights.
For an average cost of $16,000 in fees, the breakdown may look like this:
Average Airfare & Travel Costs While in Spain
Be careful to factor in travel costs when budgeting for a study abroad program in Spain. In almost all cases, students pay for their flights to and from their study abroad destination.
Many U.S. cities have direct flights to somewhere in Spain, where you can connect to where you need to go. Even more fly to other European cities such as London, Amsterdam, Paris or Frankfurt, where you can find connections to most key airports in Spain.
From the United States, direct flights to Spain almost always go to Madrid or Barcelona. Generally, flights have been available from Boston, Newark, New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Beware, airline consolidations and the COVID-19 situation have shifted this landscape in recent years. The metropolitan New York area has the most aggregate daily flights to Spain.
Paying at least $700 in lower season months for a coach class ticket is typical. In the summer, it can be a challenge to find any flight for less than $1,000. With research, time, and flexibility, some students find flights between $400 and $600 round-trip.
Many students that study in Spain for a semester or academic year like to take advantage of Europe’s compact geography to see more of the continent. Many affordable options include train and low-cost airlines such as Ryan Air. If this is in your plan, you may want to factor in another $300 to $500 per month for airfare and money for economical hotels or hostels.
Insurance Costs to Study Abroad in Spain
Even though Spain has an excellent public health system, just as in the USA, it is essential to have medical insurance coverage. As a matter of fact, the Spanish government requires it to obtain a student visa. Many programs will fold the insurance cost into the program fees, so you may not see a separate line item. If you purchase it separately, coverage could be $100 to $200 per month.
Ensure that your provider has a good insurance plan, and find out how it works and the extent of its coverage.
Does Spain have free healthcare?
Spain has socialized medical care like many European countries. However, this does not mean that it is accessible to international visitors. Your study abroad program should provide a healthcare plan involving private clinics and hospitals if you plan to study abroad in Spain.
What is the Average Cost of Living in Spain?
The website expatistan.com has a valuable tool to compare the cost of living in the main Spanish cities. Of course, the expenses of a manager in an international company and those of a semester study abroad program will not be the same. Still, it can help you see where it costs more to live. Let’s look at three cities where Spanish Studies Abroad has programs – Seville, Barcelona, and Alicante.
When writing this article, they estimate that a single person’s average monthly cost of living in Spain is $1,564. Of course, most program fees provide for accommodation and at least some of your meals, so yours should be less. They assign that amount a value of 100 to compare.
On this website, they assign Seville and Alicante a cost of living score of 98, or just about average for Spain. Barcelona has a score of 126, the 2nd-highest in Spain.
Tips and things to consider for saving money while studying in Spain – Other Costs to Keep in Mind
Breakdown per week:
Semesters are typically 16 weeks, so an excellent median is $1,000 per week. Your school’s programs could range from $700 to $2,000 per week.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected this calculation because some programs, including Spanish Studies Abroad, have compacted semesters because of delays in visa processing. A visa is required for American students in a program of over 90 days.
Narrow down your ideas
Everyone’s reality is different. In years past, many American students took an entire year of college abroad, or at least a semester. For many now, a semester is the most they can work in, so they look for short-term programs in January or the summer.
Ultimately, for most students, it’s best to start with these three key questions: 1. What programs have classes that will apply to your degree requirements, 2. Can you take an entire academic semester away from your home campus? and 3. What can you afford?
Here’s a guide that we put together to help you through this thought process.
Once you have a sense of those three questions, it is easier to consider programs and determine how much they will cost. Schedule a meeting at your campus’ international education office with a study abroad advisor.
Next, figure out your financial situation
To truly understand how much a program costs, you need to know what financial resources are available to you to apply against that cost. That meeting with your college’s advisor will be helpful in this area.
Did you know that many schools apply all or part of their financial aid packages to semester study abroad options? And some aid may also apply to summer programs – every case is different.
Exhaust all your options to qualify for funding and scholarships. Here’s a helpful guide to financial aid in studying abroad that might help you discover funding sources you never knew about.
Support from your college could be a plus or a minus because many private universities charge you the same rate to study abroad as they charge to stay on campus for a semester. So they can actually add to a program’s cost. Again, speak to your college’s advisor to understand this.
So, getting back to the cost of studying abroad in Spain …
Compared to other Western European countries. Spain can be more affordable. Housing in Madrid and Barcelona can be more expensive than in other places in Spain. However, it can be 30% to 40% cheaper compared to other cities like Paris and London. Here is a good overview of what it costs to study in some of the most popular places for U.S. students.
Another thing to examine when considering which program is what concepts they include in their pricing. Spanish Studies Abroad provides housing, meals, tuition, and many activities and excursions, so there are fewer hidden costs.
Here are some rules of thumb. Most semester programs with university credits in Spain will run from $12,000 to $20,000 per semester, without any aid or scholarships applied. Another way to think of this is a cost of about $3,500 to $4,500 per month.
One-month courses are generally around $4,000, with several hundred more needed for spending money.
Keep in mind that some students want to stay more local during their program – which is cheaper. Others want to use most weekends to see other parts of Europe or North Africa – which is definitely not more affordable. Eating with your homestay family is almost always included but going out to eat with your friends frequently is a way to drive up your cost.
So much of this depends on you. If you have the budget, you can have many extra experiences that will cost money. If you want to economize, look for programs that include as much as possible. Then do what Europeans do — use your feet to get from place to place and go easy on the eating and drinking outside of your host family.
So, where can you have the most control over your expenses?
- Is it hard to live cheaply in Spain as a student?
- What will have the most significant impact on my overall costs to study in Spain?
- Can you work while studying in Spain?
- When do I need to pay the fee for study abroad programs?
- Why are some programs more expensive than others?
Planning ahead to work the system
As we note in our article on financial aid and scholarships, you have a better chance of minimizing your out-of-pocket expenses by planning as far in advance as possible. This allows you to meet deadlines for all possible scholarships and financial aid and will enable you to shop around for your program and flights.
You might even have time to speak with your Spanish professor about how important it is to receive some of the scholarship funds that the department controls, for example.
Local simple pleasures vs. international travels
We get it – it’s tempting to think about a bucket list of destinations you’d like to see, and in Europe on the weekend, especially, it can be easy to do. Paris in the Spring? Mais, oui. But all those trips come with a trade-off – they mean that you have less time to explore your (new) local culture in depth.
Seeing a movie – and discussing it in Spanish afterward – with your Spanish friends will be memorable and fantastic for your fluency. All over Spain, you’ll find great villages where you can go quickly on the weekends to soak up local culture (and some good food and wine). These excursions will be memorable and cost you less than an international trip.
Stay in a homestay with meals provided
First, when checking out different programs, ensure you understand what is included in your housing. Some programs don’t include meals in their program price, which could mean thousands of additional dollars added to the actual cost of their program.
Homestays that include meals are the most affordable way to go. They provide the added benefits of the family’s local knowledge plus many more hours of Spanish-speaking practice. Student residences can offer fun experiences and friendships but are generally more expensive.
Enjoy Spain’s cafes … sometimes
Anywhere in Europe, locals sit around and have lively conversations – soccer and politics are common topics – in local cafes. These establishments aren’t generally luxurious; they’re often just the ones closest to where their patrons work or live.
We’re not telling you to stay away from them because they can be great for people-watching, chatting with your new friends, and speaking Spanish. But you can go once a day or a few times a week instead of twice per day, for example. And you can order a simple cortado instead of a large coffee with a pastry.
Walking vs. public transportation. Public transportation vs. car rental
One of the first adjustments many American students have to make in Spain is moving about without their own car. European cities are more compact, and study abroad students soon learn to embrace the ease with which they can move from one side of a town to the other.
Some programs include local transportation passes. If this is the case, walking is no financial advantage, even if it may be more enjoyable to stroll on Barcelona’s boulevards, for example. But in many cases, you can walk 15 blocks instead of taking a bus or the metro to save money. Public transportation will almost always be cheaper than a taxi or car rental if you visit nearby local cities on the weekend.
Spain can be an affordable destination
Spain can be affordable compared to neighboring countries like France, Germany, and the U.K. If you are concerned about money, you can plan ahead. But shop around to find programs with good values, such as Spanish Studies Abroad in Spain.
Programs vary in cost, depending on your decisions, the program, and your college. Some colleges have generous aid packages for their students to study abroad. But keep in mind that Spain is a European country, so it will take some resources to study there for an extended period. Planning ahead can help you maximize your savings, aid, and scholarships and find the most reasonable way to travel to your destination.