How to Make Your Study Abroad Experience More Affordable On a Budget
When you hear the term study abroad it conjures up the vision of the stereotypical American student spending their semester in Europe, gallivanting across the continent with no worries and plenty of cash to spend on their escapades. While this can be true, it doesn’t have to be that way. Study abroad doesn’t have to cost you thousands of dollars to fulfill your dreams and make your once-in-a-lifetime experience affordable and rewarding without breaking the bank.
Scholarships are about more than money
Scholarships are often one of your best options for gaining financial aid because they typically don’t have to be paid back. Before you begin writing essays and doing research, start by finding out if there are any scholarships available to help you fund your education abroad. Often, there are! In fact, according to The US Department of State, 25% of all Americans who study abroad receive scholarship funding. While that number may seem daunting at first (you might think it will require lots of extra work), scholarships can be relatively easy to find once you know where to look and what information needs to be included in your application. Use these resources as a guide for finding ways to fund your study abroad experience
Apply to a variety of scholarships
Scholarships can cover up to 70% of tuition for study abroad. They are also a great way to pay for your living expenses, especially when you’re enrolled in a program that doesn’t offer any financial aid. Scholarships range from competitive full-ride awards to smaller grants and fellowships that provide partial funding. Depending on what you apply for, however, some scholarships will be better suited to your specific needs than others. Some programs may require you to apply directly through them (and they tend to be more competitive), while others allow you to apply through a third party source like scholarship-matching services or government organizations.
Build an application strategy
There are many different types of scholarships that are available for international students. It is important to learn about all of them, in order to ensure that you take advantage of as many options as possible. For example, some require a separate application form and submission materials, while others have additional criteria or deadlines attached. Taking note of these factors and building an overall strategy can help you make your study abroad experience more affordable on a budget.
If you don’t apply, you won’t win
Applying for scholarships is free and can sometimes be easier than applying for loans or grants. Apply to as many scholarships as you can. While some might seem like a pipe dream, others may actually pan out, especially if you’re applying to ones that are more relevant to your area of study (such as a scholarship at an engineering school if you’re majoring in electrical engineering). You could also win smaller awards that are good for paying off certain expenses, such as tuition and books. Think creatively about how you might be able to fund different elements of your study abroad experience with scholarships—you just never know! Some of our favorite resources for finding international study-abroad scholarships include: Cappex, Fastweb, and ScholarSearch.
One scholarship doesn’t have all the answers
Scholarships are a great way to fund your education abroad, but don’t let a single scholarship be your only source of funding. In fact, we’d recommend using multiple scholarships to finance your program! Applying for more than one scholarship is not only good practice for future job interviews, it will also help you find different avenues of funding. There are many other scholarships that give preference to study abroad participants—these international-specific awards often have slightly different eligibility requirements and timeframes for application, so it pays to look around.
Opportunities outside of your comfort zone can be rewarding
Take advantage of them. Studying abroad has long been a staple of higher education, offering both valuable experience and cultural insight. At some institutions, students may have even fewer opportunities to study abroad because classes are small or because their majors aren’t offered in other countries. Although study abroad isn’t cheap, there are ways to make it more affordable: Keep an eye out for scholarships (see below) and plan ahead by looking into government-sponsored grants or other financial aid sources that require no-to-low repayments upon graduation. The more you know about your options in advance, the better equipped you will be to find what works best for you.