Studying abroad during college can be a great opportunity to learn a new language, immerse yourself in another culture, and have some fun! You might feel like there are only scholarships for students who go away for a semester or the whole academic year, but there is financial support for short term programs too. Winter break, January terms, the summer, and sometimes even spring break can be spent studying abroad. Whether you want to spend the summer in China or winter break in Argentina, there’s a way to make your study abroad dreams a possibility.
If you’re hoping to study abroad for a shorter period of time, here are some funding options:
The Gilman Scholarship is offered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. According to their website, this program “aims to diversify the kinds of students who study and intern abroad and the countries and regions where they go by offering awards to U.S. undergraduates who might otherwise not participate due to financial constraints.” The scholarship amount can be up to $5,000. Students who study certain languages during their study abroad trip may be eligible for up to $3,000 more in funding. To be eligible for the scholarship, you must study abroad for at least four weeks, but community college students can select a program that is as small as two weeks. It’s okay if your study abroad program includes visiting multiple countries, but you have to “be in one country for at least four consecutive weeks”. Applicants are also required to be receiving a Federal Pell Grant at the time they apply. There are different deadlines throughout the year for spring, summer, and fall or academic year programs.
Applicants are required to submit two essays. The first is about why you want to study abroad as part of your chosen program and how receiving the scholarship would impact you. The second essay is about the project you will carry out when you return from studying abroad. Scholarship recipients are required to promote international education and the scholarship program to others as part of their project. You must also have a study abroad advisor and financial aid advisor certify your application.
Fund for Education Abroad is an organization that aims to expand access to studying abroad for underrepresented groups and those who wish to study in non-traditional locations. The scholarship program looks for applicants who have financial need, want to attend an academically rigorous program, and are underrepresented in study abroad programs such as first generation students or community college students. To qualify, your program must last at least four weeks. The value of the scholarship for summer programs is a minimum of $1,250, but can be more based on the length of your program. Recipients of the scholarship are expected to blog weekly about their experience while abroad.
In the past, the application has opened in November with a due date in January. The online application includes essays about your intended study abroad program and a personal experience that has prepared you to study abroad. You are also required to have your college’s financial aid office fill out a form detailing the cost of the program and other forms of funding you’ll use to pay for studying abroad.
Your Study Abroad Program’s Sponsor
Another option is to look for funding directly from the sponsor for the program such as your college’s study abroad office or an outside organization such as CIEE or SIT. For example, at the college I attend there are scholarships available for every length of program directly offered by the college. A small scholarship of $500 might not seem like a lot compared to those that offer a couple thousand dollars of funding, but if you can find many small scholarships it will pay off in the end. Check directly on the sponsor’s website first, but if there isn’t much funding information don’t be afraid to send an email to inquire about financial aid.
Other Ways to Cut Costs
A way to cut the cost of your study abroad program from the beginning is by selecting an option that won’t require you to pay for an international flight. Chose to improve your Spanish in Mexico instead of Spain. Another option is to use any of your outside scholarships, those which are not issued by your college, to help pay for studying abroad. A small organization that distributes local scholarships may be more willing to apply the funding to a summer spent studying abroad than a large organization with strict guidelines. It never hurts to ask if you’re unsure if this is an option for your scholarship funding.
Don’t give up on studying abroad just because a traditional length program doesn’t work for you. There is funding available for studying abroad, but you have to be proactive and do your research. Now, go start applying for funding and make your study abroad dreams a reality!