Belgium: how to fund your studies and cost of living
Posted on September 10, 2019 by Anna Mazurek
Moving abroad is a monumental step that comes with its highs and lows, so preparing is a huge element of making it as successful as possible. If you’re moving to Belgium for your studies, then this is for you. There are many funding options as a student and there’s no reason not to start early, but you can also make the most of it.
A month of living and studying in Belgium costs anywhere between €700 and €1,300, highly depending on the city and your lifestyle. With that in mind, here are the many ways in which you can fund your studies in Belgium.
Funding in your home country: Loans
There’s no harm in starting early, so you don’t have to be arriving in Belgium with all your suitcases to start thinking about money. In fact, many universities require you to prove during the admissions process that you can sustain yourself.
You may already be aware of your government’s own student finance scheme, but it’s an important one to check out, especially if you’re unsure of whether you can take your local grants with you if you study abroad. There’s a benefit to be reaped from this, even if they’re loans: they often have a low-interest rate and more leniency when it comes to paying back.
Funding in your home country: Assistance & Part-time Work
Scholarships are also a great way to get you started, as securing them while you’re still home will help in the application process - having achieved great results during your previous education will give you a head start. Finally, there is the option of private loans, though it is up to you whether you are willing to take the risk: they aren’t often as lenient as student loans. Consider this option well and see if it’s something you’re comfortable with.
If you have a part-time job or are already working full-time, setting money aside is worthwhile as it will help you get your footing in Belgium. This is especially important at the beginning when starting costs come your way: deposits for your room, and furnishing your kot if it comes unfurnished.
Funding in Belgium
While studying in Belgium, it’s still nice to maintain a stream of income. There is a variety of ways to do this - one of them searching for a scholarship. Though this technically occurs before your initial arrival, some scholarships can be applied for continually or at the start of a second academic year if your programme has that. Wallonie-Bruxelles Campus and Study in Flanders have overviews of available scholarships on their respective websites, some of which are only available if you’re studying in a specific part of Belgium.
If you have time to spare, it may be worthwhile to look for a part-time job to help boost your earnings a little. Don’t rush with this upon arrival - most jobs will want you to speak at least a little Dutch or French (maybe German). Take your time and practice your language so you can have at least a short conversation, and visit popular student spots to ask them for available shifts in person. This is good because many hospitality jobs are not advertised. Alternatively, many universities have job boards for you to browse. See: Antwerp, Brussels, Leuven.
You can also opt in for searching for an internship within your field of study - sometimes your degree requires this but in other cases it will not. Still, getting this experience is worthwhile and recommended so that you can experience work culture in Belgium.
To work in Belgium as a student from outside the EU/EEA, you will need to apply for a work permit C: this is a specific work permit for those who are on a short stay in Belgium, such as students and interns.
Spending your money wisely
Depending on how much money you have, you will want to spend it wisely: whether this means eating out every day, buying all the cool clothes, or saving on daily expenses to explore the country on your days off.
Your every-day expenses such as food will take on average €300 out of your budget monthly. To keep this cost on the lower end, look into buying from larger and cheaper supermarkets such as Aldi, Lidl, and Colruyt for the bulk of your groceries. Having a Carrefour around the corner, but going out of the way to that Lidl will significantly lower your expenses and leave more space for other things.
If you’re living in the cities, you’re in luck: much like the Netherlands, Belgium has a rich cycling culture. You can pick up a cheap bike from a second-hand retailer or buy it from a friend, and set sail to new adventures.
There are plenty of ways to make your studies in Belgium happen but also make them worthwhile with a little bit of extra money to see the sights. Want to discover the land of Manneken Pis, Belgian style frees and craft beers? Find out what you need to know about studying in Belgium and how to find the perfect home in your Belgian city of choice.