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How to Afford Studying Abroad

This J-term I was lucky enough to spend a month traveling in Hawai’i. It was both an honor and a privilege to attend this trip, but it wasn’t just luck that got me there: I worked my butt off to afford that trip. If you are desperate to study abroad, but don’t know how you’re going to afford it, here are a few tricks I used to help get you started.

1. Plan Ahead

One of the things that helped me afford my trip was knowing that I would be traveling 10 months ahead of time. If you’re even thinking about studying abroad, now is the time to start saving. Planning ahead meant I starting saving every extra penny I had, worked full time all summer, and picked up more shifts at my part-time job during the school year. Just knowing that you’re going somewhere is a helpful first step towards financial planning.

2. Apply for Scholarships

When you start looking around, you’ll realize that there are tons of scholarships available to help cover the costs of your study abroad trip. I applied to several (often re-using the same essay, to save time, and tweaking it each time to cover the specifications of each scholarship). I kept an excel spreadsheet to keep track of what I applied to, typing in the name, deadline, and award amount for each scholarship. This process not only helped keep me organized, but also excited about my upcoming trip.  

3. When in doubt, GoFundMe

I never actually made a GoFundMe page, but when my family found out about my trip, they were happy to pitch in to help make my dreams come true. If you feel it will be helpful, set up a page and explain where you are going and what you’re going to be doing there. If your family is anything like mine, they’ll be happy to help cover some of the costs of your trip.

4. Choose the Most Cost-Effective Program

I got really lucky in that my first-choice location was also the cheapest J-term trip offered. Of course, you might not want to sacrifice a great location for a cheaper price, but looking at the different programs offered might make a difference in cost for you. For example, an exchange program with another school might be cheaper than a faculty-led trip through your own school. Look into the options and decide if the cost is worth the experience. Hopefully these tips help you save up and have the best study abroad experience possible!

Marie Osuna

Gustavus '21

Always drinking coffee and writing.
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