How to Pay Off Your Student Loans by Teaching English Abroad

You want to travel the world, but your college debts are holding you back. Fortunately, there is a solution: you could teach English abroad. By teaching English abroad, you can potentially cut your cost of living and use your salary to pay back your student loan.

If you’re interested in teaching English abroad, here are five facts you should know, including details like your estimated salary and how to repay your student loan at the same time:

Not all salaries for teaching English abroad are created equal

There is a worldwide need for native English speakers to teach the language, but the Amount of money you will earn Depending on where you are going, there is a teacher training program in place according to the TEFL International Academy. The program found the following:

  • Foreign English teachers in Europe and Latin America can generally expect to earn enough to live comfortably, with money left for travel and other interests. However, you may not be able to saves a lotso if you have high student loan balances you may not want to teach in these regions.
  • Expat English teacher in Asia can typically save between 30% and 50% of their monthly salary after taking into account the cost of living and basic travel and leisure allowances. The amount of savings depends on the country. For example, you could save $ 200 to $ 300 per month in Thailand and $ 1,000 per month in South Korea.
  • The middle East You’ll find some of the highest teacher salaries here, ranging from $ 1,500 to $ 4,000 per month, with benefits like free housing, paid vacation, and Health insurance. However, the labor market is likely to be smaller and more competitive.

The types of apprenticeships vary from course to course. Some English speaking teachers who have teaching experience and / or expertise in another subject may be able to find a position as a native English speaker teacher in an international school. In most cases, however, you will be teaching English as a Foreign Language in a local school.

Qualification and start-up costs can arise

Even if there is a global need for English-speaking teachers, it is not enough to show up in another country with a perfect command of the mother tongue and expect a job.

Typically, you will need to complete a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification course, which can cost up to $ 2,000 depending on which organization you choose to certify.

When choosing a course provider, consider the accreditation and training times offered. Most schools that hire English teachers are looking for candidates with accredited certifications and at least 100 to 120 hours of training. Some of the best courses come with a lot of support by helping you gain hands-on teaching experience, helping with a school internship abroad, and providing other advice.

In addition, unless you can teach in a very wealthy country like Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, you may have to pay for your own flight to your new home. You’ll also need to spend at least a month before you get your first paycheck. So plan carefully and budgeting are ordered.

When teaching English abroad, it is important to consider the cost of living

The good news is that many of the countries where you can teach English abroad have much lower costs of living than the United States.

In some places, for example, public transport or a bicycle is enough to get around, which saves you car costs, car insurance, gasoline and maintenance costs.

Rent and food will also cost a lot less in many English teaching destinations, which means your monthly paychecks will go much further and you can pay off your student loan debt. In some of these countries, you can also join the national health insurance program, which will save you more money.

Let’s take a look at the breakdown of income and expenses in three countries popular with those looking to teach English abroad:

  • China: According to Go Overseas, an English teacher in China makes an average of $ 1,400 to $ 2,200 per month, with private institutions and international schools offering salaries between $ 2,800 and $ 4,300 per month. A typical apartment costs between $ 350 and $ 650 a month, but some schools offer free accommodations and reimburse you for flights to and from China. Depending on your facility, you can live a good lifestyle and save over $ 1,000 every month.
  • Costa Rica: According to the Teach Abroad website Go Overseas, English teachers in Costa Rica can expect a more modest $ 600 to $ 1,000 a month. Since Numbeo says that an apartment in a big city like San Jose costs between $ 400 and $ 580, you may have to share accommodation with others. Since the expenses are a large part of your salary, you probably won’t be saving much by teaching English here.
  • United Arab Emirates: English teacher salaries in the United Arab Emirates range from a generous $ 3,500 to $ 5,500 per month, according to Go Overseas. You’ll find huge differences in the cost of living, but a one-bedroom apartment in Dubai could range from $ 1,000 to $ 1,600 a month, according to Numbeo. While the cost is relatively high, so are the salaries, which means that living frugally while teaching English in the United Arab Emirates can save you a moderate amount of money. Also, you may be able to find a school that will provide you with accommodation as part of your salary as an English teacher abroad.

You could potentially pay $ 0 on your loans due to the exclusion of overseas work income

Another great benefit of teaching English abroad is the fact that as of 2020, you won’t be paying US taxes on anything you make under $ 107,600 Exclusion of foreign earned income, must live outside of the United States for 330 days for 12 consecutive months.

You still owe local taxes on your wages, so the money you make is not entirely tax-free. However, by teaching abroad, you will likely have a much lower tax burden, so you can set aside even more money for your student loan payments.

If you live abroad and earn your income, maybe you can lower your student loan payments to zero by signing up for a Income-based repayment plan. There are several plans that link the amount of your monthly repayment to your income while also setting a repayment period of 20-25 years after which the balance is waived.

These repayment plans usually use your gross adjusted earnings to estimate how much you owe each month. If you’ve earned overseas, the gross adjusted income that appears on your U.S. tax returns can be $ 0, which means the amount you have to pay each month can also be $ 0, at least as long as you’re still alive and work abroad.

Be aware, however, that laws change, and even under the current system, you should check with your service provider about your possible payments to avoid surprises.

Teaching English abroad to pay off student debts is a great idea, but not for everyone

For some graduates, teaching English abroad is both an exciting adventure and a smart financial move. But living abroad and paying off student loans at the same time is not for everyone.

Most who teach English abroad still need to budget their money carefully to ensure they can meet their debts. And Budgeting abroad can feel restrictive with friends and other expats living and spending on vacation mode.

It’s important to remember that immersing yourself in a completely different culture can be psychologically challenging – and the cost of changing your mind is high. If you’re not sure, speak to people who have taught abroad to get a feel for whether this is right for you.

If you dream of traveling but are unsure whether you want to live abroad for the long term, it may be wiser to pay off your student loan at home and plan the trip once you are out of debt. But if you feel up to the challenge, you know this Pay off your student loans while teaching English abroad can be a viable option.

Rebecca Safier and Katie Gustafson contributed to this report.

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