How to Use Scholarships to Pay for a Semester Abroad
How Study Abroad Scholarships Work
The requirements for study abroad scholarships vary widely. Your eligibility may be determined by your academic record, program of study or long-term career plans.
Certain scholarships are purely merit-based, meaning they're awarded on the basis of academic, artistic or athletic ability. Others are need-based and are awarded to students with a demonstrated financial need. Some study abroad scholarships cover undergraduate study; others are for graduate school only. Understanding which category a particular scholarship falls into can help you target the ones you're eligible to apply for.
For instance, the Critical Languages Scholarship is designed for students focused on learning a new language while studying abroad. The Boren Scholarship offers up to $20,000 in study abroad funding for students pursuing careers in national security and international relations. Other awards, like Go Overseas Scholarships, are open to any student.
Where Can You Find Study Abroad Scholarships?
Tracking down study abroad scholarships begins with knowing where to look. These scholarships may be offered by:
- Government agencies
- Your school
- The study abroad program of the school you'd like to attend
- Private organizations
So how do you find them? Your school's financial aid office is a good place to start.
From there, you can cast the net wider. Start with larger organizations that offer study abroad scholarships, like the School for International Training (SIT) and the Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE), which offers more than $5 million in scholarship funding for study abroad annually.
Next, consider study abroad scholarships from the government. The US Department of State and other federal agencies offer numerous scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students, including the Boren Scholarship and the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, a need-based scholarship worth up to $5,000.
Remember to also check study abroad websites and online scholarship databases. GoAbroad.com maintains an extensive directory of over 800 study abroad scholarships. The NAFSA: Association of International Educators is another resource for finding study abroad scholarships and grants.
Weigh Scholarship Options Carefully
If you're offered a scholarship to study abroad, remember to consider it just as carefully as you would any other scholarship. Take note of how much funding is available, what it covers and what conditions, if any, the scholarship requires to maintain your eligibility for it. The Boren Scholarship, for instance, has a service component. Scholarship recipients must commit to working for the federal government for a minimum of one year after graduation. If you have multiple awards to choose from, knowing what a specific scholarship offers — and what it expects in return — can help you narrow the field.