7 Steps to Paying Off Your Student Loans While Teaching English Abroad
Have you just graduated or are about to graduate college and face a massive amount of student loans? You are not on your own. In the United States alone, the national student debt totals over $1.4 trillion this year. This number means that the average graduate in the US owes $17,126 and this number is rising year after year. When you are this much in debt, you can’t possibly think about moving abroad - or can you?
In fact, thousands of graduates every year head abroad to teach English in order to pay off their student debt - and most of them are debt-free much faster than if they stayed at home. Here are 7 steps to paying off your student loans while teaching English abroad.
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Step 1: Get a TEFL Certificate
I know what you are thinking. How is getting an expensive TEFL certificate helping to pay off your loans? The simple fact is that teachers with a TEFL qualification earn higher salaries and the cost of the certification course is often paid back after your first or second paycheck.
Moreover, a high-quality TEFL course isn’t as expensive as you might think. You can get an internationally accredited TEFL or TESOL certification from ITTT starting at $199 USD. The key here is to think for the long-term. If you go abroad to earn money and to pay off your student debt, you might as well make the most amount of money possible, right? A TEFL certificate will give you access to higher paying jobs and help you to be debt-free much faster.
Step 2: Find a Teaching Position Abroad
Once you hold your TEFL certificate in hand, it’s time to apply for jobs. ITTT graduates have access to lifetime job support and benefit from our network of schools and recruiters worldwide. The highest paying TEFL jobs are often found in the Middle East and parts of Asia, so if your goal is to pay off your debt as quickly as possible, these regions are a good place to start. Also, research your desired country’s cost-of-living to get an idea of what everyday life would cost. Head over to our country guides to find out more.
Step 3: Start Your Adventure and Make a Budget Plan
A lot of employers around the world offer attractive benefits, such as paid airfare, free healthcare, and year-end bonuses to their teachers. On top of that, many schools also take care of their teacher’s housing. This is great as it allows you to put money that you would otherwise have to spend on these things towards your student loans.
Since it’s easy to get distracted after a new paycheck, it’s essential to set up a budget and stick to it. Once you have figured out your average expenses in your new environment, set up a budget plan focusing on:
- How much money you want to save after every paycheck.
- How much of your salary will go towards fixed expenses (cell phone, Internet, transportation, utilities, etc).
- How much money you want to/can spend on leisure and entertainment.
In order to save and pay off your student debt, you really need to know your numbers (even just roughly) and know exactly how much you need to send back home.
The last step of your budget plan should be figuring out the estimated period of time within which you will be able to pay off your debt. Then, set up a countdown on a calendar or sheet of paper so you never forget your goal.
Step 4: Stick to Your Budget... But Also Have Fun!
This is probably the hardest step of all but it’s also the most important, because only when you really stick to your budget will you succeed. However, it’s also essential that you don't set your budget too strict. I’ve seen many teachers clinging to their numbers and sending home as much money as possible but forgetting one thing: enjoying their time abroad.
They are missing out on important experiences and often feel miserable. Balance your budget and take some weekend trips or vacations every once in a while! Your time abroad is limited and you should not forget to enjoy living in a new country. So go out and explore it and don’t miss out on exciting trips and experiences just to save an extra buck.
Step 5: Send Money Back Home
There are many ways to send money back home and it often depends on each country’s own regulations as to which methods are the most convenient. While many teachers send money home every time they receive their salary, others accumulate a larger sum and then send it back. There are also many teachers who don’t send money back home at all but save it at a local bank in their new country and then take it home with them once they leave. Consult with your employer about options to send money back home and also about opening a local savings account. You can also ask your coworkers and fellow expats as some of them are likely to be in the same position as you.
Step 6: Collect Bonuses and Severance
After completing a teaching contract, many teachers receive an end-of-year bonus and also a severance in some countries. Usually, the bonus is paid by the school, whereas the severance comes directly from the government of the country you have worked in. The former is generally paid to you with your final paycheck, whereas the latter is often sent to your bank account back home within a couple of weeks of completing the contract. Depending on your contract and teaching location, the bonus and severance can amount to several thousand dollars, so be sure to collect this money that’s rightfully yours or arrange for it to be transferred to you before you leave. Again, your employer and coworkers will usually know how to proceed with this in your specific country.
Step 7: Say Goodbye to Student Debt
Stick to the six previous steps and you will be able to pay off your student debt. Many teachers pay off their debt within one or two years of teaching and they all can tell you that it feels damn good! Many teachers, therefore, encourage others to follow the same path and head overseas to teach English in order to pay off their debt. It really works - plus, you get paid to live abroad, experience a different culture and gain valuable skills along the way!
Now, you are ready to start actually saving money by continuing to teach abroad or you can head back home and start an exciting career putting your new-learned skills to use. Whichever path you choose, your former classmates will admire you for paying off your debt so fast and will probably regret they didn’t teach English abroad themselves.
Are you ready to teach English abroad?
These seven simple steps will make it a lot easier to navigate your way through paying off your student debt while teaching English abroad!
Speak with an ITTT advisor today to put together your personal plan for teaching English abroad.
Send us an email or call us toll-free at 1-800-490-0531 to speak with an ITTT advisor today.
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