The good news is, if you do your homework, it doesn't have to be.
The most important rule for finding an affordable study abroad program is to ignore University run programs. If you've looked at your university's study abroad programs, you'll know what I'm talking about: they're insanely expensive. The main reason for this is that University-run study abroad programs guarantee credit transfer for students. When you study abroad with an unaffiliated program, you must broker the credit transfer between the universities, which can be a major hassle and stressor. But is such a hassle worth $5,000? In my case, it isn't.
Note: If you receive financial aid, your university might allow you to put it towards your study abroad. If this is the case, you will want to consider your university's study abroad programs.
Brokering a credit transfer can be tricky, but as long as you are proactive about it, you should be okay. Contact your international admissions office and make an appointment to speak to an advisor. Your University should have a list of all the Universities that they have accepted credit from, so you should be able to determine whether or not the program/host university you have chosen will be a viable candidate. Later, speak to your academic advisor and your major advisor about which classes you should take in order to fill requirements (you will likely only be filling liberal education requirements while abroad).
National Student Exchange
Destinations (Spanish or French speaking): Quebec, Puerto Rico
Cost: Your current tuition or less
NSE is by far the cheapest study abroad program that I have come across so far. This is because the program allows you to pay your home tuition, with little to no added fees! Oftentimes, you can even pay your host university's tuition instead of your own. Spoiler: Canadian and Puerto Rican tuition are way cheaper than American tuition!
University Studies Abroad Consortium
Destinations: Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Spain, France
Cost: $7,000 - $10,000
With a broader range of host countries, most outside of North America, USAC is clearly more expensive than NSE. However, it is one of the most affordable acclaimed study abroad programs available, and it offers a variety of ways to save money, such as living in a dorm rather than a homestay. While studying abroad with an unaffiliated program, make sure to take a leave of absence (or your university's equivalent) in order to make sure you're not paying tuition!
Interning abroad is a great way to learn a new language and build work experience! Intending abroad is especially impressive to employers because it underscores your adaptability and showcases your language skills. What's more, interning abroad can often be cheaper than studying abroad. Who knew?!
Destinations: Costa Rica, Ecuador, Spain, Morocco
Cost: $2,500 - $7,000
Yes, you will be paying to have an internship. It's not common to find an international internship where you are not paying for the experience, and even less common to find one that will pay you. World Internships is one of the most affordable international internships out there, and offers internships between four and sixteen weeks in length (longer periods will cost more). The cheapest options are four week long internships where you find your own housing (which means you will have outside expenses). I would suggest using the homestay option, as it only costs a bit more, and finding your own housing in another country and language can be very difficult.
Living the dream! Finding work abroad can be difficult because of visa complications and because of how hard it is to find jobs in a country that is not your own. Unless you are a professional a couple years out of college, your best bet is nannying or paid internships(!). Spain and France are popular destinations for English speaking nannies, as many families want a nanny who can help their children learn French. You may also find a fair amount of "stage" opportunities, which roughly translates to "internship". Such opportunities are usually either waitressing or nannying. Whatever internship/job you do find, working abroad is always a wonderful way to improve your language skills and better get to know the host country's culture. The biggest bonus is that you make money rather than pay it! Nannying jobs are the most pocket friendly opportunities as you are usually only expected to pay for airfare, local transport, and weekend meals (you usually live with the family for free and eat all your meals with them).
Job Search Suggestions:
Cost: They pay you!
Global Graduates is a great resource for finding international job opportunities. All employers who use Global Graduates are looking for candidates with language skills in English and another language (usually the host language), and will list the language skills that they expect in all candidates. Global Graduates is not an incredibly popular website, so there are usually only between one and ten listings at any given time.
Go forth and immerse yourself!