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5 ways to pay for your overseas tuition

Finance your education with secure and cost-effective international money transfers.

Promoted

Wise (TransferWise)

Wise (TransferWise) logo
  • Fair service fees and mid-market rates – a major market differentiator
  • Next-day delivery for most currencies
  • Easy-to-use app
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Studying abroad is a great way to expand your horizons, and many American students take advantage of this for a semester while at university. Figuring out how to pay for your study abroad can be tricky and stressful, but with online money transfer specialists, you can spend less time deciding how to pay and more time deciding where you want to study.

What are my options for paying overseas tuition?

One of the most popular ways to pay for overseas tuition is using an online money transfer, but that isn’t your only option. Consider these five ways to pay for university abroad when making your decision:

  1. International money transfer
  2. Bank transfer
  3. International bank draft
  4. University online payment portal
  5. Cash

1. International money transfer

An international money transfer can be sent directly to your university of choice through a money transfer provider. When making a money transfer for tuition payments, pay attention to:

  • Transfer fees. Compare the transaction fees charged by each company to see how much extra you’ll have to pay to send funds overseas. Keep in mind that some providers will waive their fees if you transfer a large amount. OFX charges no fees if you transfer more than $10,000.
  • Exchange rates. What might sound like a minor difference in exchange rates can have a big impact on the amount of money your beneficiary receives. Shop around for a provider that consistently offers better rates than the competition. Fore example, Wise uses the mid-market rate which is rare among providers.
  • Customer support. If you ever need help with a transaction, will you be able to access the assistance you need? When will it be available and is it offered online, over the phone or via email?

Compare international money transfer providers to pay for tuition abroad

Our table lets you compare the services you can use to send money abroad. Compare services on transfer speeds and fees, then click Go to site when you're ready to send.
1 - 12 of 12
Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer)
Wise (TransferWise)
Within minutes
From 0.41%
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 50+ currencies.
Cash App
Within minutes
From $0
With this peer-to-peer payment app make payments to your friends and family with no transfer fees within the US or from the US to the UK or EU.
Instarem
24 hours
From 0%
New Instarem customers will get a special FX rate and zero-fees on their first transfer.
Instarem offers offers rewards on every transaction.
MoneyGram
Within minutes
From $0
MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
OFX International Money Transfers (Business)
24 hours
$0
Business customers: Send safe, no-limit transfers with no fees and competitive exchange rates.
CurrencyTransfer for Business
24 hours
$0
Increase business efficiency with zero transaction fees and same-day transfers.
OFX
24 hours
$0
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies.
Xe Money Transfer for Business
24 hours
$0
Save your time and money with Xe Money Transfer for business.
Currencies Direct (business)
24 hours
$0
Minimizes costs of international transactions and offers custom solutions for business clients. Currencies Direct may call you to confirm your transfer, so be prepared for a phone call shortly after initiating a transfer.
Xe
Within minutes
$3
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
CurrencyTransfer
24 hours
$0
CurrencyTransfer lets you shop around for the best exchange rate on its online marketplace.
Currencies Direct
24 hours
$0
CurrenciesDirect makes transferring money abroad simple with bank-beating exchange rates. Currencies Direct may call you to confirm your transfer, so be prepared for a phone call shortly after initiating a transfer.
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2. Bank transfer

Transferring money directly from your bank to pay for university fees abroad may be more expensive than using an international money transfer service. Because banks often charge high fees and offer poor exchange rates, consider avoiding this method when possible.

Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending $30,000 to the UK

Let’s say you need to send $30,000 to pay for tuition at a university in the UK. Here’s what you might face as far as fees and exchange rates as of June 16, 2020.

Money transfer providerBank transfer
Fee$0$25 + additional correspondent bank fees
Exchange rate1 USD = 0.792 GBP1 USD = 0.754 GBP
Transfer speed1-2 day2-5 days
Amount receivedGBP 23,756GBP 22,601
Verdict
  • Better value and faster
  • Slower and more expensive

The bank option ends up being both the slower and more expensive option for paying tuition in the UK. If you go with the money transfer provider, your recipient ends up with GBP 1,155 more than the bank offers.

3. International bank draft

An international bank draft is similar to a cashier’s check, but is designed for larger amounts and international situations. Double-check that the university you want to pay tuition at will accept an international bank draft. Some of the pros and cons of international bank drafts include:

Pros

  • Accepted in most parts of the world. International bank drafts are accepted in the majority of countries around the globe.
  • Inexpensive. Although you’ll have to pay a fee when you apply for an international bank draft, drafts are still a relatively cost-effective method of sending funds overseas.
  • Created in the local currency. As the check is made out in the local currency where it will be sent, it does not require conversion and is therefore able to be banked quicker than a check written in USD.
  • Secure. Bank drafts must be deposited into a bank account and cannot be cashed.

Cons

  • Slow. Bank drafts typically take several weeks to process, so they’re only a viable option where the speed of the transaction is not a concern.
  • Availability. There’s a chance your bank may not support the currency and country you want to send a bank draft to.
  • Time-consuming to replace. Bank drafts are secured and can be replaced when lost, but the process is far from easy. Every bank has its own procedure, and at the very minimum, you’ll have to wait for the bank draft to be delivered internationally a second time.

    4. University online payment portal

    Many universities that welcome international students offer their own payment portals for international payments. Although these are convenient options for paying tuition abroad, they may not be the best choice when it comes to saving money. A few tips to keep in mind when using an international online payment portal for overseas tuition:

    • Always navigate to the portal through the official university website. Do not click any links in emails or links found on the search results of Google.
    • Double-check the exchange rate and fees before confirming payment, as you may be able to save money using a different option such as a money transfer provider.
    • Ask about deals or discounts based on payment size. Paying an entire year of tuition instead of one semester at a time may secure you stronger exchange rates and lower fees.

    5. Cash

    Cash should always be a last resort when making international tuition payments. When paying with cash in a foreign currency, you have two options: exchange the cash domestically or abroad. If you opt to exchange domestically, beware of cash limits when traveling internationally by plane. Typically, you can travel with any amount under $10,000, but it’s best to check for any additional restrictions based on your destination.

    If you want to exchange cash abroad, consider using a money transfer service that allows you to pick up cash. WorldRemit and MoneyGram are major competitors in this field, and typically offer far stronger rates and lower fees than household names like Western Union.

    Bottom line

    There are a lot of stressful decisions to make when studying abroad, so figuring out how to pay tuition shouldn’t be one of them. Avoid excess fees and find the right fit for your situation by comparing international money transfer providers.