The 5 Most Affordable Study Abroad Programs in Latin America

By Maddie Townsend, Program Manager for Peru, Brazil and Dominican Republic

Wanting to spend a full semester abroad, but don’t want to break the bank? Check out these 5 cost-effective programs.

1) Brazil

At just $7,950, the ISA Florianópolis fall program is the most affordable semester program that ISA offers. You’re bound to fall in love with the beaches and natural surroundings on the Island of Magic.

Looking for free activities to do on weekends? Hike one of the island’s dozens of beautiful trails or check out the on-site staff’s weekly newsletter for local recommendations of where to do free yoga, listen to music, or catch a free show. If you’re a beach bum at heart, you can always spend your days soaking up the sun on one of Florianopolis’s 40 beaches.

View from the top of Trilha do Morro da Coroa, a hiking trail located on the southern tip of the island.

Bonus: If you are a healthy person who likes to stay active, Floripa is also a great place to get out and exercise—no gym membership needed! Many streets are lined with biking and running paths, and you’ll even see public exercise equipment scattered along common running routes.

2) Colombia

The Barranquilla, Colombia program is one of our longest semester programs and still falls under the $10,000 mark. During this 18-week long program students can take courses with local Colombians taught in both English and Spanish. If you want to make friends with locals, but don’t speak Spanish, this is the location for you. ISA students are paired with Uninorte Buddies to help you adjust to your new university.

The Universidad del Norte is also ABET-accredited and offers STEM courses taught in both English and Spanish. Engineering majors may get credit for subject-related courses abroad and stay on track toward their degrees. With Spanish, business, and liberal arts courses too, there are options to cover a range of academic interests.

Photo taken by ISA Barranquilla Alum & Photo Blogger, Amber Craig on a hike to La Ciudad Perdida.

Bonus: Flight costs are estimated to be around $775 or less, making travel to Colombia much cheaper than to some other ISA sites.

3) Costa Rica

With options in San José and Heredia, Costa Rica has budget-friendly programs for everyone. Students studying arts, humanities, healthcare, and environmental science tend to be drawn to the charm of this Central American destination.

Fall students have included excursions to Arenal Volcano, Irazú, and Manuel Antonio National Park, allowing you to explore the wonders of Costa Rica without needing to worry about the logistics. Buses are the most popular form of transportation across the country, making it easy to travel coast to coast—even on a budget! Flight costs to Costa Rica also tend to be on the lower end compared to other ISA locations.

Photo by ISA San José Alum & Photo Blogger, Mary Gross.

Bonus: Here are some tips from Program Manager, Madeline Hume, on making the most of San José on a budget.

4) Argentina

There’s never been a better time than now to spend a semester in the bustling capital of Buenos Aires. With the dollar to peso conversion rate at the best it’s been in recent years, your study abroad savings will go a long way.

ISA’s Argentine homestays allow you to have both the traditional host family experience and easy access to some of the most popular neighborhoods in the city. The hip barrios of Palermo, Recoleta, and Belgrano are full of trendy restaurants and cafes, clothing stores, museums, parks, and vibrant street art. Each time you step out the door, you’re bound to find another gem hidden among the streets of BsAs.

Bonus: Wondering what else Buenos Aires has to offer? Check out these recommendations from Site Specialist and ISA Alum, Svaja Pakalniskis.

5) The Dominican Republic

With the Caribbean coming in at #4 on the New York Times’s list of places to visit in 2018, how can you say no to a semester spent soaking up the language and culture of the DR?

In ISA homestays, students are provided with three meals a day, seven days of the week. Eat out when you want, and don’t worry about budgeting for groceries. If you’re looking for an energy boost between classes try some low-cost, fresh tropical juices like chinola or tamarindo.

The DR is another ISA destination with low flight costs and an overall low cost of living. Students often walk to class, master the concho transportation system, and spend a minimal amount on textbooks, making budgeting a breeze. Spend less time worrying about money and more time mastering your Dominican accent.

Photo by ISA Santiago Alum & Photo Blogger, Danya Firestone.

Bonus: Spend your free time counting the shades of Caribbean blue from these breathtaking beaches.


There’s still time to spend your fall semester abroad in one of these affordable locations. Deadlines range from May-July. Apply today!

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