Did you see the cost of your study abroad program and instantly cringe? You're not alone! Its true, studying abroad can be expensive. Not only are there usually increased fees and tuition, but in many places, the cost of living can be higher than you are used to. This is where study abroad grants and scholarships step in and save the day! While daunting, there are in fact many untapped resources available to students specifically for study abroad. A little research and voila, you'll be able to make your study abroad dream come true!
Scholarships for study abroad are widely available from a variety of sources, but surprisingly, thousands of dollars worth of scholarships go unclaimed every year simply because no one applies for them (the horror!). Some of this money could be YOURS. The trick is knowing not only where to look for scholarships, but also how to apply for them. Even though they may not fully cover your study abroad costs, the decrease in your student expenses will increase your budget for personal expenses (read: fun!)
The following tips and resources will serve as a guide for finding study abroad scholarships and grants that will alleviate the expense of studying abroad.
Scholarships and Grants for Study Abroad
In the United States alone, there are thousands of scholarships available to students seeking international education, from national awards funded by the government to smaller-scale awards attached to a particular program or university. Make sure you explore all financial aid options available to whatever specific study abroad program you choose.
Another useful tip is to check with the government of the country where you intend to study for any scholarships they might offer. Contact an embassy, consular office or the country's department of education. Many countries offer financial support to international students to make study in their country a more attractive and feasible option.
Ask On Campus
One of best, and increasingly underestimated, places to focus your search for financial aid is right on your home campus. Try visiting the financial aid office, study abroad office, and the foreign language departments to inquire about available funding. Search online or ask your study abroad advisor.
There are many different types of scholarships available. Some are based on need, academic merit, or might be limited to foreign language majors or minors. For this reason alone, you may want to consider declaring a primary or secondary major in a language. This might make you eligible for more scholarships, both on and off campus, or a more attractive candidate to receive a scholarship.
Also, don't overlook other departments that might be offering assistance for foreign study. Scan your college catalogue or visit other departments that interest you for information about department-specific programs and scholarships. Many scholarships and programs of foreign study are available to students in business, engineering, anthropology, art history, and music. Make known your ambitions to many of your professors, as they may know of opportunities for funded research projects you can participate in while studying abroad.
Because campus-based scholarships are much less competitive than those on a national level, the probability that you will receive one is much higher.
Check Local Organizations
After taking inventory of all the resources available on campus to financially support your study abroad program, start tapping into your connections within your local community (this could be both the community your university is located in, and your home town!) You might inquire on campus or search online for names of local or regional heritage groups or language associations: Sons of Italy chapters, German clubs, Hispanic heritage groups, Chinese-American associations, etc. These local organizations tend to like supporting students in their home community.
After gathering a list of organizations, call or visit each group that is relevant to your studies and inquire about scholarship opportunities. Making the effort to visit the organizations and create a small relationship with them is a great way to emphasize your underlying interest in receiving a scholarship. Like the campus-based scholarships, a great advantage to these types of scholarships is that they are awarded on a regional basis. Application pools are much smaller than for national scholarships and your chances of receiving aid is thereby much greater.
Apply For Federal Financial Aid
Ignore the voice in your head that says applying for financial aid from the federal government is too much work. You have absolutely nothing to lose, except perhaps a few hours of your time. The US government sponsors several kinds of need-based aid packages to finance your college education, from Pell Grants, to Work Study, to Stafford Loans. Many students don't realize that these government grants and loans may used toward study abroad. You can fill out the application, known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA, online at the US Department of Education FAFSA website.
When you fill out the FAFSA, you are not only being considered for federal funding, but also state financial aid programs. The federal government forwards your information on to your state for evaluation. Because state deadlines differ, be sure you get your FAFSA in early to be eligible for state aid awards.
The reason I studied abroad was to expand my mind by living in a different environment compared to my country. When you live abroad you become more independent and learn different ways of thinking by the people you meet.
- Mercedes Menjivar
Free Scholarship Search Databases
The internet is an excellent resource for locating a large number of study abroad scholarships. Many of these scholarships will allow you to apply directly online; potentially, you can apply for dozens of scholarships in a few short hours. However, their one downfall is that these scholarships are also equally available to everyone else online. A larger application pool will reduce your chances to be awarded aid, but remember, you have to be in it to win it!
I recommend being specific in your search queries for study abroad scholarships, such as including your intended destination or university, or the language you wish to study. The broader you are, the more convoluted your search results will be, which may result in google-aches, scholarship-exhaustion, or being plain overwhelmed. (All very serious illnesses with long lasting effects!)
Skip a step and head directly to these tried and trusted, Go! Overseas approved scholarship databases.
Scholarship Portal: This website provides a comprehensive free search database system for scholarships available throughout Europe; you can search by region, country and discipline. There are also many great resources available for those interested in finding undergraduate and graduate educational programs in Europe.
FastWeb: This website will not only help you find study abroad scholarships, but scholarships of all kinds that may help you get through the rest of college. The service is free but offers a number of extra benefits if you decide to register.
Mach25 Scholarship Search: This is a simple and free scholarship search database. In a Keyword Search, try entering the name of a language you are interested in and browse through the results to find anything you qualify for.
IIE Passport This database is a comprehensive search engine for all study abroad programs registered with IIE passport.
Grants.gov The great thing about grants is they're NOT loans, so you don't have to pay them back! Use this database to find money available to cover various costs of study abroad.
Study Abroad Scholarships for Multiple Languages and Locations
National Security Education Program / David L. Boren Undergraduate Scholarships: Scholarships to support U.S. undergraduate students participating in study abroad programs in world regions critical to US interests (including Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America & the Caribbean, and the Middle East), in exchange for a commitment to seek work in the federal government.. The countries of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are excluded. Level: undergrad Award: $2500 - $20,000
Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program: Provides awards for US undergraduate students who are receiving federal Pell Grant funding at a 2-year or 4-year college or university to participate in study abroad programs worldwide. Based on financial need. Sponsored by the US Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Level: undergrad Award: up to $5000 (plus additional bonus funds available to Gilman Scholarship recipients only)
Robert B. Bailey Scholarship: The Robert B. Bailey Scholarship is intended to promote the participation in CIEE's International Study Programs of individuals or members of groups that have traditionally been underrepresented in study abroad, especially ethnic minority students. Applicants are asked to specify the group to which they belong and which they believe to be underrepresented in study abroad. Applications are reviewed based upon the information provided including financial need, academic achievement, the Personal Statement essay, and recommendations. As part of the scholarship essay, students should also explain how membership in that group factored into the decision to choose the program/destination of study. Additionally, the personal statement should address how the applicant plans to integrate the international experience into future academic, community, professional, and extra-curricular activities. Level: CIEE program participants Award: $500 toward program fees.
CIEE International Study Programs (CIEE-ISP) Scholarships: Scholarships each year to students who demonstrate both academic excellence and financial need and who are applicants from an Academic Consortium member institution (list is here). Applications are reviewed based upon the information provided including financial need, academic achievement, the Personal Statement essay, and recommendations. Level: CIEE program participants Award: $500 - $1000 toward program fees
Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships (ETAs): Selected participants work for one academic year in a school or university in a foreign country in Europe, Asia, or South America, assisting in the teaching of English language and American culture. Participants are integrated into the life of the host country. Program details differ from country to country, but participants receive a stipend, paid round-trip airfare, and other benefits. Applicants must have B.A. at time the award year begins. Level: B.A. in hand Award: varies
USAC Scholarships: USAC awards more than $350,000 in scholarships each year to help students with their study abroad expenses. They have a variety of scholarships available for students enrolled in USAC programs, including general study abroad, Member University, and site/project specific scholarships. Level: must be used on a USAC program Award: varies
Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarships: The Rotary Club offers 3 different types of scholarship: Academic Year Ambassadorial Scholarships for 1 year of study abroad, Multi-Year Ambassadorial Scholarships for 2 years of degree-oriented study abroad, and Cultural Ambassadorial Scholarships for 3 or 6 months of language study and cultural immersion abroad. Applicants must be a citizen of a country that has Rotary Clubs and must have completed at least 2 years of college-level coursework or equivalent professional experience before commencing their scholarship studies. Level: undergrad or graduate Award: $13,000 - $25,000
Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Scholarships: The national honor society for foreign language students awards scholarships for undergraduate study in programs abroad to its members. Level: undergrad Award: $1000
Golden Key Study Abroad Scholarships: Ten scholarships awarded annually for members of the Golden Key Honor Society for undergraduate study abroad. Awards will be made based on academic merit and relevance of study abroad program to major field of study. Level: undergrad Award: $1000
Institute for International Public Policy Fellowships: Applicants must have sophomore status and be enrolled full-time in a 4-year BA program, have a minimum 3.2 GPA, be an underrepresented minority and possess a strong interest in international affairs. The fellowship includes support for participation in junior-year study abroad, sophomore- and junior-year summer policy institutes, summer intensive language study, and internship placement. Level: undergrad Award: varies
Fulbright Travel Grants: To pay round trip travel expenses to study abroad programs in Germany, Hungary, Italy in cases where the cost of travel is not covered by the program fees. Level: all Award: varies
American Association of University Women Fellowships and Grants: One of the world's largest sources of funding for graduate women, AAUW is providing more than $3 million in funding for more than 200 fellowships and grants to outstanding women and nonprofit organizations in the 2009-10 academic year. Level: graduate Award: varies
CEA Scholarships: CEA offers 8 unique scholarship opportunities available to those enrolled in CEA study abroad programs, based on need, merit, affiliation, and distinction. Level: undergrad Award: $500 - $750 for short term programs and $1000-$3000 for year long programs
Glimpse Correspondents Programs: The Glimpse Foundation and The National Geographic Society seek talented writers, photographers, and filmmakers to record their experiences studying abroad. Level: undergrad Award: $600
Churchill Foundation Scholarship: At least fourteen Churchill Scholarships are offered annually. The Scholarship is tenable for nine, ten or twelve months, depending on the academic program. Level: graduate Award: $45,000-$50,000
IIE Midwest Study Abroad Scholarships: There are seven study abroad scholarships applicable for a study abroad experience of any duration greater than 4 weeks in any part of the world. Level: undergrad Award: $1000
John T. Petters Scholarship: Scholarship awards for students interested in international business with diverse backgrounds looking to study abroad as part of their degree plan. Level: undergrad Award: $6000
Youth Foundation Scholarship:Available to high school seniors seeking higher education at accredited four-year United States colleges or universities. Applicants must show a 3.5+ or better grade average and should document financial need. Level: undergrad Award: varies
My Travel Bug: In order to help financially needy Americans travel abroad, My Travel Bug, Inc. awards a number of Fellowships each year. Prospective Fellows submit an application and are judged on educational merit, originality and writing quality. Level: undergrad, graduate Award: varies
IES Minority Merit-Based Scholarships: Open to students who are African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian-American, Hispanic-American, or Multiracial. 3.3 minimum GPA required. Recipients must be accepted to and attend an IES program. Level: undergrad Award: $3000-$5000
Critical Language Scholarships: The CLS Program is a U.S. government interagency effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical need foreign languages. Students of diverse disciplines and majors are encouraged to apply. Level: undergrad Award: varies
Global Studies Foundation Student Grant: The CLS Program is a U.S. government interagency effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical need foreign languages. Students of diverse disciplines and majors are encouraged to apply. Level: undergrad Award: varies
NSEP Language Flagship Fellowship: The Language Flagship offers a limited number of fellowships to qualified American students interested in receiving financial support to participate in one of the Graduate Flagship Programs in Arabic, Korean, Mandarin, and Persian. Level: graduate Award: varies
ISA Scholarships: Various scholarships for merit, need, or affiliation available to students participating in an ISA study abroad program. Level: undergrad Award: $100-$2500
API Study abroad Scholarships: Studying abroad with API ensures not only a great experience but also financial awards - API students enjoy upwards of $400,000 in scholarships each year! Level: undergrad Award: $250-$1000
Department of Education Scholarship for Programs in China: Provides financial assistance to students who are participating in the Chinese language programs offered by the CIEE Centers at Peking University (Beijing), East China Normal University (Shanghai), Nanjing University, and National Chengchi University (Taipei). Based on merit, financial need, and previous language experience. Level: upperclassman undergrad or graduate Award: $500 - $8000 toward program fee
Freeman Asia: The Freeman-Asia scholarship provides American students to study abroad in one of the 15 Asian countries on semester or summer programs (at least eight weeks in length). Scholarships are first offered to student with no prior experience in the country where they plan to study. Level: undergrad Award: $3000-$7000
Japanese Studies Scholarships: The Japanese Studies Scholarships are for undergraduate students who wish to pursue Japan-related studies. This program offers students an opportunity to study Japanese language and culture for one year in Japan. Students must be currently enrolled in Japanese at a university outside of Japan at the time of application. Sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport, Science and Technology (Monbukagakusho). Level: undergrad Award: 139,200 yen/mo. + one-time sum of 25,000 yen upon arrival
Bridging Scholarships for Study in Japan: Scholarships for American students participating in study abroad programs in Japan to assist with travel and living expenses. Funding from private foundations and major US corporations has made it possible for ATJ to award 100 scholarships annually. Undergraduate students majoring in any field of study are eligible to apply for these scholarships. Japanese language study is not a prerequisite. Level: undergrad Award: $2500-$4000
Morgan Stanley Scholarships: For those students interested in economics and international finance who have been accepted for study in Japan are eligible. Level: undergrad Award: $7500
India Study Abroad Center: Available to deserving international students interested in studying abroad in India through an ISAC program. Level: undergrad Award: varies dependent on length of program
Walter Jensen Scholarship for Study Abroad: Awarded to a future teacher of French to help pay for a semester or a year studying French abroad in an accredited program in any Francophone country. Student must be currently enrolled in an established teacher education program in French and must be sponsored by a member of the American Association of Teachers of French. Awards are based on financial need and can be used to cover tuition, fees, travel, or housing costs. Level: undergrad or graduate Award: $1500
The Walter J. Jensen Fellowship For French Language, Literature, and Culture: Awarded by the national honor society Phi Beta Kappa for at least 6 months of study in France. Candidates must be US citizens holding a B.A. who can demonstrate that their career does or will involve the active use of the French language. They must demonstrate superior competence in French. Level: post-undergrad Award: $10,000
German Academic Exchange Service: Offers 9 different types of scholarships, grants, and fellowships for study and research in Germany. There are awards for undergraduate students to post-doctoral scholars in every field imaginable. Ranges from financial support for 3-week courses to full-year financial support for an academic year abroad. Level: any Award: varies
Congress - Bundestag Youth Exchange Program: Scholarship program that facilitates cultural exchange for American and German young adults in the business, vocational, technical, and agricultural fields. 75 Americans and 100 Germans are selected annually. 12-month program includes support for intensive language instruction, university classes, and a 5-month career-related internship. Funds round-trip airfare, language study and university classes, living stipend. Level: high school diploma, undergrad, or graduate Award: varies
EESA-Eastern European Study Abroad provides merit and need-based scholarships of up to $7,000 per applicant. EESA offers individual financial advising to all students and ensures that each student is able to study abroad. Level: undergraduate Award: up to $7,000
Delta Phi Alpha Scholarship Awards: The national honor society for German awards scholarships to undergraduate student members wishing to further their German studies with research and study abroad in a German-speaking country. Level: undergrad Award: $1000-$2000
American Austrian Foundation: Offers numerous awards to support exchanges to Austria in the fields of medicine, science, communications and the arts. Level: varies by award Award: varies
Work Immersion Study Program (WISP): Three-month work and study immersion program that pays for intensive 1-month language course and places students in a 2-month paid internship in a business or technical field related to their career plans in Germany. Level: community college only Award: varies
Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbuttel Fellowship: Applicants for long- and short-term fellowships at the Newberry may also ask to be considered for this joint fellowship providing an additional two-month fellowship in Wolfenbuttel, Germany. Level: undergrad, graduate Award: varies
Kosciuszko Foundation Year Abroad in Poland Scholarship: Financial support from the Polish Ministry of Education and Sport and the Kosciuszko Foundation for US students to study and live in Poland for a semester or year. Includes tuition waiver and stipend for living costs for study of Polish language, history, and literature at Jagiellonian University in Krakow. Level: undergrad Award: varies
LIVFund: The Learn, Intern, and Volunteer in Latin America fund offers scholarships to any student in need of financial assistance and planning to study or intern abroad in Latin America (including Argentina and Cuba). Level: undergrad Award: $500
Hispanic Study Abroad Scholars (HSAS): The HSAS Scholarship is available to students of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) attending Global Learning Semesters programs. Level: undergrad Award: $1000
Expanish Short Term Argentina Scholarship: Expanish offers two scholarships during January term, and two during May sessions, equal to the equivalent of 25% of the student's program fees. Level:: undergrad Award:: varies
American Research Center In Egypt Fellowships: Over the course of five decades, ARCE's fellowship program has benefited more than six hundred scholars, whose research interests span the diversity of Egypt's periods and cultures. Level:: pre-doctoral and post-doctoral Award:: varies
School for Field Studies Scholarship: These awards are need-based and preference is given to those students participating in Kenya programs, where the cost of airfare is significantly higher than other SFS programs. Level: undergrad Award: $2000-$5000
Harry Oppenheimer Fellowship Award: An award that focuses unambiguously on excellence in scholarship; it has a long tradition of investing in education and related fields. Level: graduate Award: over $100,000
CGE's Heritage Scholarship - Namibia: Two scholarships are available each semester for students of Pan African descent who are committed to understanding the effect of racism/apartheid and resistance movements in the U.S. and in Southern Africa. Level: undergrad Award: varies
US Indonesia Society Grants: USINDO Travel Grants are open U.S. and Indonesian citizens seeking to travel to Indonesia or the United States to conduct field research or other professional projects, including conferences. Level: undergrad Award: $2000
Southeast Asian Fellowship Program: The East-West Center offers a wide variety of both short- and long-term programs for individuals. Academic scholarships and fellowships as well as educational exchange and professional development programs are available. Level: undergrad Award: varies
Fellowship Grant in Singapore: The Asian Civilisations Museum invites scholars to apply for fellowships in areas related to the museum's collections and topics of future exhibitions. The research fellowships support in-depth original study and writing on specialized aspects of Asian culture. Level: undergrad, graduate Award: varies
Scholarships for study in Australia: This database provided by the Australian government gives students easy access to the available funding for international students studying there. Level: undergrad, graduate Award: varies
This is just a snapshot of the ample scholarship opportunities available to aid in funding your study abroad experience. While cost is an influential factor, it should not be a deciding factor (especially if the decision is leaning towards a 'no!'). We bid you good luck in your search for scholarships!
I studied Art History at the University of Colorado - Boulder. I'm an avid traveler (go figure), and so far have called Colorado, Australia, Taiwan, and now California home. Follow me on Twitter and Google+
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