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10 Ways to Score a Study Abroad Scholarship

Students Jumping in Bolivia by Where There Be Dragons on Flickr

One of the main reasons students don’t take advantage of studying abroad is because they don’t have the financial means to make it happen; or at least they think they don’t. We get it, you’re a poor college student trying to pay for rent, tuition and food--how could you afford to live in a different country for a semester?

The GoAbroad team has the answer to your financial woes: scholarships. Yeah, those essays you wrote and applications you filled out to help pay tuition are also available for study abroad programs. Scholarships can be hard to find, but GoAbroad is here to help, as usual. Just click on our scholarships button, use the dropdown menus to narrow your findings, and click go. BAM. Just like that, you’re on your way to making all of your travel dreams come true.

Before you go crazy filling out applications, take some time to figure out exactly what types of scholarships are most likely to earn you money. We’ve compiled a list of things to keep in mind on your venture for study abroad financial aid. Take a look at these ten tips for scoring a study abroad scholarship, and then start applying. Good luck!

1. Know What You Excel at

Maybe you’ve put in hundreds of hours volunteering within your local community. Maybe you’re a star athlete who’s earned several All-American titles. Maybe you have a perfect GPA and are part of several university clubs. No matter what you excel at, be sure to keep your talents in mind when filling out study abroad scholarships. Some scholarships require the recipient to be outstanding in a certain field, so knowing your strengths can help you narrow down scholarship choices and find the perfect opportunity to earn money for your trip abroad.

2. Go off the Beaten Path

Many scholarships are location-specific. This can work to your advantage, especially if you’re traveling to lesser-known destinations. Since most providers have programs in which they need students to enroll, you’ll be more likely to receive a scholarship if you travel through one of the programs that not all students are jumping to be part of.

For example, most study abroad programs in Florence, Barcelona and London are oversubscribed, so companies don't need to give scholarships. But programs in unknown destinations or small cities, such as those in northern England, need students.

3. Watch for the Big Scholarships

Money by Images_of_Money on Flickr

Applying for large scholarships can increase your likelihood of earning money for studying abroad simply due to the number of scholarships awarded. The Fulbright scholarship through the U.S. government is one scholarship to search for, as over 300,000 applicants are selected for their “academic merit and leadership potential” . Golden Key is another large organization that offers scholarships for studying abroad. This international honor society has 400 chapters within universities around the world and gives $1,000,000 in scholarships and awards.

4. Look for Options through Your Program

If you’re having trouble receiving a large scholarship, look for smaller scholarships offered directly through your study abroad provider. Companies such as CIEE and Academic Programs International (API) offer a variety of scholarships to students who enrolled in study abroad programs through their organizations. If you enrolled in a program through your university, speak with your study abroad advisor to learn more about the study abroad scholarships offered at your school.

5. Choose a Subject

Aside from being location-specific, many study abroad scholarships are also specific to a student’s area of study. If you’re studying abroad to become fluent in Spanish, there’s a scholarship for that. If you’re studying abroad to become an expert on Oriental Medicine, there’s a scholarship for that, too. Entering a study abroad program with goals of what you want to learn and get out of your program can benefit you when it comes to finding scholarships.

6. Keep Your Options Open

AFS-USA Intercultural Programs on Flickr

Having trouble choosing a subject to study while you’re in Italy? No need to stress; this can actually work to your advantage. If you’re willing to go with the flow academically, look for scholarships that are offered to students wanting to study a specific subject and apply to the ones you find interesting. Just as with locations, some less popular academic programs are in need of more students. If you’re okay with studying a topic such as art history rather than physical therapy, you’ll have a better chance of receiving a scholarship.

7. Take Advantage of Your Unique Qualities

Scholarships requiring their applicants to be 12 percent Navajo or have a family member who is part of a secret society can leave some frustrated. But if these circumstances apply to you, you better be applying for these scholarships. Family history, gender, race, religion and financial need can all be factors for study abroad scholarship applications. Take advantage of who you are and look for the scholarships that take your unique traits into account.

8. Remember That Anything Helps

“I wish I wouldn’t have received that $50 study abroad scholarship for Barcelona” is a phrase you’ll never hear. Since writing essays and filling out applications can be a daunting task, you may be tempted to only apply for scholarships offering large amounts of monetary assistance. Remember that small scholarships are valuable, too. Any money you earn through a scholarship is more money than you started out with.

9. Apply for More than One

Study by Mc Quinn on Flickr

Want to know what’s great about scholarships? You can apply for as many as you want! And it doesn’t take a math genius to know that the more scholarships you apply for, the higher your chance of receiving a scholarship is. Think about it: Would you rather spend five hours filling out scholarship applications and earn $1,000 or spend five hours working at a coffee shop and earn $40? If you’re really into coffee, maybe you shouldn’t apply for any scholarships. That way you can optimize your time spent grinding beans.

10. Adhere to Deadlines

Scholarship applications have deadlines. If you don’t turn your application in on time, you won’t receive a scholarship. While this information is incredibly obvious, you know it’s something you need to constantly remind yourself of. Life gets busy. Classes, homework, clubs, sports, friends work… it’s hard to keep everything straight. Do yourself a favor and create a calendar specifically for scholarship deadlines. For some people the hardest part about applying for scholarships is turning in the application. Get yourself organized and don’t be one of those people!