For Massachusetts native Sarah Barnacle, a $7,000 scholarship helped make a transfer from the University of Massachusetts—Boston to Richmond, The American University in London feasible without adding much cost.
"At Richmond, semesters were costing me $10,000 ... the education I received was better than that of a state school, and I was in London," Barnacle wrote in an E-mail to U.S. News. "My brother currently attends a private college in Illinois and his tuition is close to $18,000 a semester... [My] education was actually a great deal considering what the average American student pays a year."
Students looking abroad may also be able to use federal student loans from the U.S. government. At foreign institutions including UCL (University College London), No. 4 in the 2012 World's Best Universities rankings; the University of Hong Kong, No. 23; and Denmark's University of Copenhagen, No. 51, U.S. students who fill out the FAFSA can borrow federal Stafford loans to help pay for their degrees.
Evaluating global options takes time and energy—not just for finances, but for long-term plans as well, University of King's College graduate Bent notes.
"If you're going to study outside of the U.S., you really need to assess what your future plans are very early on in the process," Bent says. "When you come back, you won't have the same network that you would if you went to a state school. When you're studying in Washington, D.C. or New York City, you come out of school and you've got people that you've met over the course of your studies that will help you in the job market. That's less true if you study abroad and then come back."
Studying abroad for an entire degree also has other implications, including homesickness, notes Eddie LaMeire, an independent college counselor based in Madrid.
"This is not something that should be done on a whim," LaMeire says. "If a student had any doubt about how she'd adjust to a new culture, what she'd study, or how she would use the degree, I'd tell her to think twice. It's a specialized path for a particular type of student, which deserves serious thought."
But for Bent, who now has a communications job at KSE Partners LLP in Vermont, the experience was worth the risk.
"It's a true cost-benefit analysis," he says. "If you think that you want to save that money and you want to see the world or how things are different elsewhere, then you should go abroad, save the money, and check things out."
See U.S. News's coverage of the World's Best Universities for rankings, photos, and more.