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How to Get a Scholarship to Study Abroad

Studying abroad can enrich your school experience, but figuring out how to pay for it might feel daunting. Here’s how to get a scholarship to study abroad.

Deciding to study abroad can be a way to enrich your school experience. In many cases, cultural immersion can help you learn more about a specific subject as well as broaden your horizons and teach you valuable skills.

Paying for the experience, though, might feel like a daunting task. There are different ways to find funding for studying abroad. Here’s how to get a scholarship to study abroad as well as some other options to consider as you figure out how to pay for your international student experience.

How to get a scholarship to study abroad

Because scholarship money doesn’t have to be repaid, it is likely to be your priority when you look for funding for your study-abroad experience. Here are some strategies you can use to find and apply for study-abroad scholarships.

Start with your school

Find out from your school if there are scholarships available to study abroad. For example, your academic adviser might be able to tell you if your major department offers scholarships for students who are spending a semester or more in another country. Your school might also have scholarships available. Check with your school’s financial aid office for information about applying for scholarships that can be used for studying abroad.

Look for heritage organizations

You might also be able to get a scholarship to study abroad from a heritage organization. For example, groups that focus on Hispanic heritage, African heritage or other groups might provide scholarships for those with shared heritage to study abroad in applicable countries. 

Additionally, there might be additional funding and scholarship help for students from minority or marginalized groups. If you’re a BIPOC student, you might be able to find scholarship money to help you pay for studying abroad.

Contact the government of the country you want to visit

Depending on the country, you might find some financial aid available to visiting students. For example, Scholarships to study in Australia are offered by the Australian government as a resource to help students who want to visit. Additionally, you can check to see if there is a related organization or school that sponsors international students in the country you want to visit. Depending on the situation, you might be able to access funding and scholarships.

Use online search to find a scholarship to study abroad

Don’t forget about online search options when trying to figure out how to get a scholarship to study abroad. A number of websites provide access to scholarships, including those for study-abroad programs:

  • Fastweb
  • IIEPassport
  • ScholarshipPortal
  • Scholarships.com
  • Diversity Abroad

Some of these scholarship websites aren’t specifically devoted to study-abroad funding, but they can still provide you with access to funding that can help you in your schooling. Consider applying for several scholarships to increase your chances of receiving funding for your experience.

Finally, you can also use a resource such as Go Overseas to find out what opportunities are available to you. It may not be a study-abroad program, but there are also volunteer, teaching and other experiences that can enrich your life and improve your education.

Other ways to fund your study-abroad experience

In addition to getting a scholarship to study abroad, there are other ways to finance a semester (or more) abroad. When putting together a funding plan, you will likely need a strategy that includes multiple resources. Other options for finding study-abroad funding include the following:

Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

When you fill out the FAFSA, you provide information that establishes your eligibility for grants and student loans. Depending on the school you plan to attend abroad, your federal student aid might be able to help you. Federal student loans and even grants can be used at eligible schools abroad, so if you plan to take advantage of a study-abroad program, don’t forget to fill out a FAFSA and find out which schools are eligible for this funding.

Use your savings 

Another option is to use your savings to help pay for your study-abroad experience. You can use money saved up to help cover your costs, including funds in your 529 plan. If you have money saved up, it can supplement scholarships and federal student aid. However, that only works if you have been able to save up money ahead of time.

It’s important to note that you might not be able to have a job while you study abroad. Depending on the country you’re visiting and the rules regarding visas, you might not have the option of working, as student visas don’t always allow for work opportunities. Student visas are often different from work visas, so don’t assume that you can earn money to help pay for your study-abroad program.

Private student loans

You can also apply for private student loans to help fund your efforts to study abroad. In many cases, private student loans can be used at schools that are recognized by the Department of Education. As a result, getting a private student loan through an organization such as Juno can help you close a funding gap and get the money you need to complete your study-abroad program. With Juno, you are part of a community that has access to lower rates and better deals that can make school more affordable.

Consider using private student loans if scholarships, savings and federal student aid aren’t enough to cover your study abroad costs.

Bottom line

If you want to have an experience studying abroad, it’s important to consider how you will be able to pay for it. While it’s possible to get a scholarship to study abroad, you might have to look for additional methods of funding. Apply for multiple scholarships for studying abroad and consider federal aid by filling out the FAFSA. You can also tap into your savings and private student loans to help you cover the costs. Use multiple strategies to pay for an experience that can be instructive and rewarding.

Miranda Marquit

Written By

Miranda Marquit

Miranda has 10+ years of experience covering financial markets for various online and offline publications, including contributions to Marketwatch, NPR, Forbes, FOX Business, Yahoo Finance, and The Hill. She is the co-host of the Money Tree Investing podcast and she has a Master of Arts in Journalism from Syracuse University


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