There are few more exciting experiences in college than studying abroad. Often though, the study abroad opportunity, like going to college in general, can be fraught with financial burdens. But just as with college in general, students can apply for and receive scholarships allowing them to study abroad. Here are some ways you can track down that money and pursue a semester that may change your life.
- Check with your college financial aid office. Just because you're studying abroad for a semester, or a year, or even longer, doesn't necessarily mean you aren't still eligible for scholarships from your home college or university. You may be excluded, but you won't know unless you ask. So if you're looking for a scholarship to help you study abroad, make one of your first calls to your home school's financial aid department - see what funds may transfer to study abroad programs. They may also be a source of information on other options.
- Check with your study abroad program. Whether you're going abroad through your home college or through another university or program, talk to those running the program to see what scholarships may be available. Many programs have money set aside to help students in financial need. Others may have merit-based scholarships. Sometimes, the money won't pay for your tuition or room and board, but it may defray the costs of air travel or other "start up expenses." Check with your program for financial aid opportunities.
- Think locally. Many town and city organizations have money set aside each year for scholarships for local college students. Look into these organizations; some may have money specifically for students who want to travel. Some may even have their own small-scale study abroad programs.
Also consider contacting local organizations that relate to your study abroad plans. Are you going to Italy to study art history? Consider contacting the local art society or the local Italian-American club and asking what scholarships they may offer. You never know until you ask. They may be glad to help. And you may be able to repay their generosity by doing a presentation for their group once you return home.
- Think world wide. As in, the web. One way to increase your chances of getting a study abroad scholarship is to, of course, apply to as many places as possible. You can do an internet search on scholarships for students studying abroad and maybe find dozens of opportunities you never knew existed.
Once you do a general search, you may have more luck pinpointing scholarships for students about to study in a certain part of the world, studying a certain field, or learning a certain language. The internet is a great tool for doing this type of research. They don't call it a search engine for nothing.
- Check with your host school. Another option for scholarship money may exist in the school where you will be studying. If possible, contact the financial aid department at that college or university and ask if they have any money available for foreign students. It may well be that they don't, but, it could also easily be that they have a fund set up to encourage students to travel to their school. Your study abroad adviser may be able to help you with this level of search and advise you about how to contact the school or seek financial aid from them.