Funding your Study Abroad

Bath Wishing Well
Wishing well in Bath

Hello again! Cas here to share with you all that I know about how to fund your education abroad. Believe it or not there is a HUGE amount of funding out there and if you’re lucky like I was there’s even a large amount of funding inside your own institutions for study abroad. It may seem like everyone studies abroad in college but it’s actually only a small percentage of all college students that embark on studying abroad. This is good news for you as studying abroad is then a major plus on your resume and that means there is far less competition for study abroad scholarships than your normal education scholarships, thus significantly increasing your chances of winning the money you need to finance studying abroad.

Let me share with you a few secrets to build my credibility. I had only ever won two scholarships prior to applying to scholarships for studying abroad, and it wasn’t for lack of trying for more I promise you that. Despite my track record for not winning I applied to all the study abroad scholarship I could find that I was eligible for and was awarded over $20,000 in scholarships for my semester in London. This was more money than needed to pay for the whole trip.

So now that I know you’re listening lets dig down into the nitty gritty: HOW DO YOU DO IT TOO?

First, research scholarships as early as possible. The moment you decide when you want to study abroad is when you should start looking for scholarships available for that time. This is because even if you haven’t yet decided where you want to go or which program you wish to attend many scholarship don’t demand to know this information right away. However many scholarships have specific deadlines or can only be applied to certain semesters. This is why you should start researching scholarships as soon as you decide when you want to go so that you can get on top of all of the deadlines and stay on top of them.

I repeat be wary of all your deadlines!!! Some scholarships have very early deadlines while others will give you right up until your trip. Some will have certain deadlines for some of the materials to be turned in by one date and the other materials can be turned in by a different, later date. It’s extremely frustrating and discouraging to put in a lot of effort to an application then realize you have zero chance of winning because you forgot to have your counselor send in a transcript or even you just forgot to hit the submit button when you finished. It may sound silly now but when you’re balancing school, work, preparing for study abroad, and applying to seemingly endless amounts of scholarships the deadlines become overwhelming and you can make tons of simple mistakes that will ruin your chances if you don’t stay organized. My advice: get an agenda and spend a day looking through all the scholarships you plan to apply to and write down every deadline. THIS WILL SAVE YOU.

So if there are so many study abroad scholarship where can you find them? excellent question.

Here’s a list of a few anyone can apply to regardless of your home school and intended study abroad program:

The Fund for Education Abroad 

Diversity Abroad Scholarships

Flip key Scholarships

Bright!Tax Global Scholarship Website

Benjamin Gilman International Scholarship

There are also plenty of location specific scholarships such as:

Freeman-ASIA Scholarships

Bridging Scholarships – Japan

Global Korea Scholarship for Foreign Exchange Studies (HUFS)

Vira I. Heinz Scholarship for Women in Global Leadership

I only really know the ones for asian countries as I’m currently looking into them for my summer semester in Japan. Regardless, you can find scholarships for any specific location if you are looking. Remember Google is your friend and you can reach out to your study abroad office to see if they have any lists available of possible scholarships for studying abroad. Often times if a scholarship is listed on the list they give you it means students from your university have had some success with it.

However, the categories you’re most likely to have luck with are scholarships offered by your home university or through the program in which you tend to study abroad. Remember how much scholarship money I said I was awarded? All but one $1,000 scholarship was won through scholarships offered by my school Temple University and here at FIE!

Think about it, your home university already has a major investment in you. They know every good thing you do and your letter of recommendations and personal connections are going to hold a lot more sway when the scholarship board actually know and personally trust the word of your recommenders or if they happen to know you or of you depending on the size of your school it’s definitely possible that you’ve made an impression on faculty members, hopefully it’s a positive one. The program you intend to go on wants you to win the money you need so that they can take that money as well as support you going on study abroad through them. Not to mention unlike the other two categories of scholarships that are open to anyone interested in studying abroad that meets their specific qualifications, theses scholarships are only open to students interested in studying abroad from your university or chosen program.

Be sure to check with your university study abroad office and the website or correspondent of your chosen program to learn about all scholarship opportunities available to you. Also check their websites as sometimes the lists aren’t up to date and the website will sometimes even list additional opportunities that have arisen.

OK, so now you know how to find scholarships, which ones you will most likely have the most luck with, and to stay organized and on top of all deadlines but how do you stand out against the crowd of applications so you can win the money needed to fund your dream study abroad trip?

These are the 3 keys to standing out:

  1. Letters of recommendation from professors that are close to you and have known you more than one semester so they can comment not only on your work ethic but your personality
  2. A sob story. Now I don’t mean to lie and say you only have a year left to live and you want to spend that year abroad or anything crazy like that. Don’t do that. You should already have an honest story to tell.  The fact of the matter is you need the money in order to fund your time abroad or you can’t go, simple as that. Play that up. Show how important it is to you that you do this and explain why you can’t do it without the help of scholarships. You can really feature this if there is a section on the application that asks if there are any circumstances that FASFA doesn’t take into consideration that affects your finical situation.
  3. An essay that shows you are goal oriented and that you want to STUDY abroad, not take a semester long vacation. This goes back to my first post when I asked; Why do you want to study abroad. I said before that this is the first and most important question you need to answer when deciding to study abroad. What was your answer? What are your goals for studying abroad? Why did you pick this location and program? How do you think it will help you reach your future career goals? How do you think it will help you grow on a personal level? Are there any specific classes, internships, or other educational opportunities that you are looking forward to? These are all questions you should already have answers to, to write a compelling essay you need to answer these as best as you can so that they can express you passions and your excitement for the opportunity to study abroad.

I know this was a lot of information to take in at once. Scholarships can be a daunting task but it’s definitely worth your time to apply to as many as possible. As they say, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.  I hope my advice can help you reach your study abroad dreams. Please feel free to comment any questions you may have. Tata for now.

~ Cas





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