10 Tips for Funding Your Study Abroad Experience
Studying abroad can be an exciting, life-changing experience that’s just waiting to happen… if you can figure out how to fund it. Study abroad programs can be expensive, with housing, food, and travel all playing a big role in the price tag. This guide will give you 10 tips for getting the funding you need to study abroad and get ready to take on the world!
1) Start Saving Early
The earlier you begin saving, the less money you’ll need to meet your goals. Studies show that people who begin saving early are also more likely to stick with their savings plan. So, instead of letting your savings take a backseat to your everyday spending habits, make room in your budget and start contributing a little bit every month or so. Before you know it, you’ll have accumulated a healthy sum of cash that can go toward fun travel experiences without having to worry about sacrificing too much in terms of financial security.
2) Do Your Research
One of your biggest expenses in study abroad is your plane ticket. Depending on where you’re going, a round-trip ticket could cost $1,000 or more (it’s not cheap to fly from most parts of North America). One way to help save some cash is to keep an eye out for travel credit card deals. Some companies offer travel-friendly rewards cards with points that can be used for plane tickets and hotels around the world. When you’re applying, make sure you pick a card that will give you a large bonus if it turns out that traveling abroad is a viable option for your year off! When in doubt: Google it!
3) Save Up Money From Summer Jobs or by Cutting Costs During School
When it comes to funding your overseas experience, you might think that scholarships are your only option. In fact, grants and scholarships usually only cover a small portion of your overall tuition costs and travel expenses. If you’re committed to studying abroad, consider saving up money from part-time jobs during summer or cutting down on unnecessary spending by taking public transportation instead of driving or cutting back on things like shopping or going out with friends as often as possible. No matter how much you’re earning at your job, making choices to save money—even just a few hundred dollars—can make all the difference when applying for study abroad funding.
4) Get a Scholarship
Depending on your field of study, there may be an abundance of scholarships available to you. Many require an essay or statement of interest, while others don’t ask anything at all. There are hundreds of websites dedicated to helping students find and apply for scholarships—it’s worth taking a few hours to search these sites and see what you can come up with. You never know what might work! Here are just a few places to get started: Higher Education Scholarship Service , Posse Foundation , Council for International Exchange Programs .
5) Take Advantage of Benefits & Discounts in the US
Explore your opportunities at home. Most college students are eligible for discounted student airfare, train tickets, and bus services, as well as discounted lodging at hostels. If you’re planning to travel abroad during your study abroad experience, look into other discounts that may be available through airline rewards programs or credit card sign-up offers. Consider getting a part-time job in addition to receiving financial aid; many employers offer benefits to full-time employees that are only available to them if they work 30 hours per week or more. Taking advantage of these opportunities can help make sure you can afford everything you want on your trip—and then some!
6) Collect Federal Grant Opportunities
Grants are a great way to get money to fund your study abroad experience, and they’re relatively easy to obtain. There are two types of federal grants that you can apply for: need-based and merit-based. Need-based grants require students to submit FAFSA forms, in which your family income is used to calculate how much money you receive. Merit-based grants award funding based on academic excellence and awards vary based on school performance.
7) Consider Crowdfunding
Crowdfunding can be a great way to raise money. If you need funding to participate in a study abroad program, consider seeking out donors on platforms like GoFundMe or Crowdrise. There are also a number of scholarship programs aimed at promoting study abroad participation, so look into those as well!
8) Look at Private Student Loans
Private loans are usually unsecured and come with higher interest rates. Still, they’re worth considering if you don’t qualify for or have exhausted other funding options. But be careful: Students can apply only twice to private lenders in a calendar year, so you could end up losing out on opportunities to other applicants if you apply too late.
9) Work Part-Time While In School
You’ll build some valuable experience and have a chance to make contacts in your field. Working part-time can also be a great way to meet people who can provide insight into your career or offer future job recommendations. Do you have school loans? Working part-time while in school might help you pay them off faster than if you only worked full-time after graduation.
10) Find Alternative Financial Aid if All Else Fails
If all else fails, you may want to try alternate financial aid options. For example, if you’re an undergraduate student, you could work with your school’s scholarship office to see if there are any funds available to help pay for study abroad fees. Alumni and local chapters of some fraternities and sororities offer scholarships that can be used specifically toward study abroad programs. Some countries even have their own scholarship opportunities. In China, for example, travel grants through The People-to-People Scholarships Foundation of China are awarded annually to students from underrepresented ethnic groups who are planning to study Chinese language or culture at one of more than 100 partner schools throughout China. So check out additional funding sources before giving up on your dream!