If you’re worried about the financial aspect of studying abroad anywhere in the world, I can gladly offer you a little advice on getting around this seemingly impossible obstacle. I am indeed aware that money does not grow on trees no matter how much I would like to believe this, so I was at first very concerned about the reality of my semester abroad when I began to work out the costs. I can however proudly inform you that I got my entire semester covered through a little hard work and a lot of essay writing in the year leading up to my time abroad.
If you’re determined to make your study abroad a reality as I was, earning the financial aid you’re in need of will not be too hard. The scholarship that provided me with the most help was the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, which offers grants to U.S. citizen, undergraduate students with limited financial ability. If you are a Pell Grant recipient, you are eligible to apply. I would suggest looking into this scholarship first, as it involves a little more planning and work than the others. You will need to develop a plan for both a project you will work on while abroad as well as a follow up project you will complete shortly after your arrival back home. The application process for this scholarship is a bit more involved than the others, so make sure you give yourself time to complete it.
There are of course numerous other scholarships available, all you need to do is seek them out and apply! Check out what your home university might offer as well as outside sources. Be careful when choosing a program, as many university will only allow you to use your funding with certain organizations and programs and during certain times of the year. Any federal aid can usually be applied to most programs during the Fall or Spring semester as well, winter break and summer programs are less likely to be covered by most scholarships and grants. Try to find a program early to give yourself time to see what scholarships are offered directly through it.
Study abroad and financial aid advisors are helpful in this process, as they will tell you what can and cannot be applied to your program according to your university, but much of the application process takes a lot of self-motivation. Your advisors can only help you with certain things, so I suggest speaking with past students of the program or location of your choice as they will probably offer tips and tricks that can only be learned through experience.
Studying in a country that is not a common semester abroad location as well as studying a critical needs language, such as Azerbaijani, Bangla, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Punjabi, Turkish, Urdu, Arabic, Persian, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian can increase your likelihood of receiving various scholarships. Most are also based on the time you will be abroad, so a semester-long program scholarship will offer more than a summer program scholarship.
Many organizations offer funding in return for an keeping an ongoing blog and presence on social media during your time abroad, such as The College Tourist. Its even more rewarding to share your experiences with other students and potentially inspire them to study abroad as well.
Here are a few links to different scholarship and grant opportunities:
- Critical Languages Scholarship
- Benjamin A. Gilman
- Boren Award
- Ohio University Study Abroad Funding
Start planning early and don’t let the cost of studying abroad hold you back. Enjoy the adventure and maybe even inspire someone else to pursue such an amazing opportunity.