So you dream of studying abroad – of days spent wandering the shops and museums of Paris, or nights spent tango dancing in Buenos Aires – but you just aren’t sure you can afford it. Beyond the obvious costs of the study abroad program itself (which usually include tuition, housing, some meals and some trips), there are a lot of other costs to consider, such as additional meals, shopping, and travel. So what’s an aspiring world traveler to do?
I’ll tell you what not to do. Do not give up on your dream! Study abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most of us. And I can’t tell you how many seniors I’ve talked to that say not studying abroad is their one big regret in college. So don’t let a few pennies (or even a few thousand bucks) get in the way of your international adventure.
The old adage says it best: Where there’s a will, there’s a way. You have the will, now here are a few creative “ways” to pay for your study abroad experience:
Scholarships, Scholarships, Scholarships!
I know it’s a lot of work to search for scholarships online and go through the sometimes-lengthy application process. But your hard work can also pay off big time. I was a Gilman scholar when I studied abroad in Buenos Aires during the fall of 2010. Some people had discouraged me from applying because the Gilman can be pretty competitive, but I was desperate to find outside funding for my trip, so I went for it anyway. And what do you know, just 5-10 hours spent working on my application ended up translating into a $4,000 scholarship that I could spend on whatever I wanted/needed for my trip (that’s like getting paid $400-$800 an hour!). Not too shabby right?
The Gilman is great, but don’t discount the small scholarships either. Sometimes there is less competition for say, a $100 scholarship, and every bit really does help! Here are some tips for your scholarship search:
Check with your school’s study abroad and financial aid offices to find out how paying for study abroad will work for you. At Bryant for example, we pay normal tuition and rooming fees, minus the cost of a meal plan and student involvement fee. Best of all, our financial aid transfers. This means that study abroad is (theoretically) financially feasible for any Bryant student. However, this also means we aren’t eligible for certain outside scholarships, such as those offered by the study abroad programs themselves. Different schools have different rules, so make sure you know what you’re looking at financially before you start applying for programs and/or scholarships.
Apply for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. If you’re a strong student and you receive Federal Pell Grant funding, I highly recommend applying for the Gilman scholarship. While the program is competitive, they award over 2,300 scholarships per year with an average amount of $4,000. So unless you’re a D-student who comes from some major moolah, you really have nothing to lose by applying, except maybe a few hours of your time. The deadline for this Summer/Fall is March 1st, so be sure to get started right away!
Apply for other study abroad scholarships. Unfortunately, this means doing your fair share of research. Study abroad scholarships may be specific to a country or language, may only be offered once (as opposed to recurring scholarships like the Gilman), and can have applications that range from just filling out a form to essays, recommendations and more. Studyabroad.com and Allabroad.us have some great info to get you started.