So you’ve made the decision to study abroad, and you’re thrilled. Nothing beats the excitement of knowing that you’re going to live in another country, even if for a short while. Prepare to immerse yourself in foreign cultures, maybe even pick up a new language, and have the time of your life. But of course there are some obstacles standing in your way before you can pack your bags and kiss your campus goodbye for a few months. One huge roadblock? Money. If you’re a recipient of federal loans, or are receiving grants or other types of aid from your particular college or university, you may need to research study abroad scholarships. These are specific forms of aid that exist to help students better finance their time abroad.
Research is the only sure-fire way to ensure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck when studying abroad. Spending a summer or semester in another country is a huge commitment, so why feel held back financially? The last thing that a college student wants to do is feel limited on this once-in-a-lifetime experience. One of the best sites to begin digging? NAFSA, which provides financial resources for undergraduate study abroad sessions. NAFSA is the Association of International Educators, so you know you’re looking into a valid and helpful resource. Also be sure to look into sites like the Institute of International Education, which sorts study abroad scholarship resources by country. This will provide you with an array of options that you can compare and contrast.
There are other means for searching for financial aid when studying abroad–in fact, the perfect resource may be right in front of you. Visit your college or university’s study abroad office to inquire about scholarships that may be school-specific. These may come in the form of grants, and can be helpful even when you’re looking to purchase materials like textbooks and items for your living space. You will have to apply for most of these, as they’re normally memorial scholarships that are competitive among your peers. Find out the deadlines and materials required for applying, and ask for assistance with anything you aren’t completely sure about.
If you’re studying abroad through another institution or an outside organization, you may be in luck. Your program provider may offer specific loan programs and grants, some even specific for your location of choice. Choosing to go this route may mean a number of things. First off, chances are you’ll be competing with thousands of other college students from across the world. Secondly, you must verify with your school’s study abroad office that these loans or packages are compatible with your existing aid. Lastly, try to find scholarships that best suit your needs. Be thorough in your selection, but definitely apply to as many as you can.
You may be able to apply to certain scholarships if you are of a specific ethnic group or minority group, as well. Organizations like the American Indian Scholarship Fund and the United Negro College Fund offer both annual scholarships and study abroad-specific scholarships and other forms of aid that can prove helpful to you. Regardless of the type of scholarship you choose to pursue, you may be required to write an application essay as part of the materials needed for submission. Keep this personal and be sure to identify what exactly you’d like to gain out of your study abroad experience.
Look into your college or university’s study abroad website to get a sense of what your options are. This is your best resource, so set up an appointment with an advisor to straighten out your priorities and plans. Having professional guidance as well as a resource for any questions or concerns you may have is key. Prepare to both conduct professional research and seek out this type of assistance. Applying for scholarships will be a cinch if you do so properly! Don’t let money woes bring you down–you are studying abroad, after all.