For any high school student, mention scholarship or grant, and you’re almost undoubtedly speaking about college. But did you know that there is a whole array of scholarships out there for other educational purposes? Like language learning, advancement in the arts, and yes, even study abroad? If you are a high-schooler who wants to study abroad but is worried about finances, (after all, you still have four years of college yet to come!) consider applying for a scholarship before you let “I can’t afford it" become yet another excuse.
Quick Tips for High School Study Abroad Scholarships
- Check with your program provider to see if they offer scholarships first. CIEE and Youth for Understanding, for example, offer partial and full scholarships to their students in select programs/countries. This is generally the best place to start your scholarship search.
- Read the small print carefully. Some scholarships cannot be used with another scholarship while others can only be used towards tuition fees, but not towards daily expenses (like room and board). Others still are specific to a region or academic field and you would qualify if you are studying in Japan, for example, but not Mexico. Make sure your scholarship can be used towards your program!
- Apply to as many scholarships as you can! The more you apply for, the more likely you are to win one. Simple logic, right?
- Highlight your passions. While each grant has different requirements of applicants, the best way to get one of these grants is to visit the website, read about the requirements of the specific grant you’re after, and apply based on what they’re looking for. The best way to stand out is to point out any past travel, highlight your passion for international education, tailor each application to the grant (for example, is the grant volunteer-specific? Explain why you’re passionate about international volunteering), and cast a wide net by applying to all of the grants you qualify for.
Being proactive, aggressive, and organized will help make that study abroad bill feel smaller and smaller and smaller until poof, it's almost gone! Now, let's dive into the scholarships and grants!
High School Abroad Scholarships and Grants
Where There Be Dragons Financial Aid & 529 Funds
Where There Be Dragons offers need-based financial aid to students that demonstrate reasonable financial need and are excited to engage with communities around the world.
- Any student that demonstrates reasonable financial need
SYA Program Scholarships
School Year Abroad (SYA) offers scholarships to high school students who demonstrate exceptional academic ability, commitment to their home school communities and passion for exploring other cultures.
- Must be enrolled in an SYA program
The Experiment in International Living Scholarships
The Experiment in International Living offers a variety of need-based and merit-based scholarships to worthy high school students looking to participate in their program. The eligibility requirements vary depending on where you live and other demographics -- and your GPA is taken into account for some scholarships too.
- Must apply for/be enrolled in an Experiment in International Living program
YFU Financial Aid Fund
If you're an active member of your high school's key club, this scholarship is for you! Youth for Understanding (YFU) offers over 200 full and partial merit-based scholarships and needs-based financial aid to students every year, and is applicable for travel in nearly 40 countries.
- Must be an applicant for a YFU program
The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program
For those accepted into The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program, the U.S. State Department will provide full scholarships to study abroad in Germany -- no previous language required! As Germany is a top country for studying abroad, this is a competitive but great opportunity for high school students to get a jump start on international education.
- 3.0 GPA or higher
National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y)
The National Langue Security Initiative is a program sponsored by the U.S. State Department to encourage language learning in specific languages the U.S. has identified as high importance. The scholarship covers language immersion programs for the following languages: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Persian (Tajik), Russian and Turkish through one of their programs.
- GPA higher than 2.5
- Must be learning one of the languages listed
Rotary International Scholarships & Grants
The Rotary Club operates one of the largest and longest-run private study abroad funding programs offering up to $25,000 in scholarships to fund one year of academic study, room and board, and other associated expenses. Students are named Cultural Ambassadors and are expected to give presentations both on their home culture while abroad and on the culture of their study abroad destination upon returning home. Scholarships are given through local branches.
So, how do I convince my parents?
After you've picked the perfect program and bookmarked these scholarships, all that’s left to do is convince your parents that you want, need, and simply have to take the opportunity to study abroad during your high school years!
Being as prepared as possible for this discussion is a great way to get the ball rolling. Show your parents that you’re responsible and have done your homework by showing them programs that interest you, making them aware of grants and scholarships you've found and are qualified for, and show off your research to prove you have a good understanding of how to stay safe during your studies.
In need of a few more tips? Take notes from folks who have their strategies down pat.
Good luck future travelers!
Don't forget, budgeting for your high school study abroad trip doesn't end here -- this is just a starting point! You can always turn to your community, like your place of worship or your local rotary club for help, or get inspired by these unique fundraising ideas.