Tips for financing your overseas electives

As a medical student, you probably know how difficult it can be to cover everyday expenses like food and textbooks. Late nights, lectures and placements barely leave enough time for sleep, let alone paid work. With stretched finances, saving enough money for an overseas elective can seem daunting. How do you pay for flights, visas, course fees and travel insurance on a toast and instant noodles budget?

Whether you’re keen to get experience in a Kathmandu hospital or a dental clinic in Toronto, here are five ways to finance your overseas electives.

OS-HELP loan

The Australian Government’s OS-HELP loan is one of the most popular finance programs for overseas study. If you’re eligible, you can borrow up to $6,740 for a six month study period, more if you choose to study in Asia. To find out if you can apply, go to the Australian Government’s Study Assist website.

Scholarships and awards

If you have a strong academic record or come from a disadvantaged background, it’s worth applying for scholarships or grants to help fund your trip. While scholarships can be competitive, there is no shortage of undergraduate and postgraduate options. Talk to your university to find out about relevant scholarships and eligibility requirements.

There are also scholarships and assistance offered by medical defence organisations (MDO). If you’re already a member of one of the MDO’s, go on to their website and look up what scholarships and education programs they offer.

Part-time work

A part-time job is an excellent way to save money and learn new skills. But before you commit to pouring coffees or washing dogs on Saturday mornings, consider how many hours you can realistically work without affecting your studies.


Is your wardrobe filled with clothes you never wear? Do you have a bike or surfboard gathering dust? Hold a garage sale or sell unwanted items online and put the money towards your trip. Other fundraising ideas include hosting a movie night, renting your room while overseas and approaching local community groups, like Rotary, for donations.

Consider an overdraft facility

No matter if you want to travel to the other side of the world or somewhere closer to home, you shouldn’t have to compromise due to lack of funds. A small overdraft facility can bridge the gap between your own savings account and other funding sources like scholarships and government loans.


An overseas elective is likely to be one of your most memorable student experiences. Early preparation and planning will ensure you spend time enjoying your trip, not stressing over your bank balance.

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