Wait—What? Figuring out Study Abroad Grants

by Published

The secret(s) to study abroad grants.

Going abroad is quickly becoming a rite of passage for many college students, but just like that mixture of fear and dread that you felt when deciding between a costly private university and that awesome in-state deal, going abroad may bring up similar wallet woes. However, there is some good news. First of all, if you did choose that piggy-bank draining private university, some study abroad programs and destinations might actually be cheaper than a semester’s tuition, if your school offers tuition waivers while you’re abroad. Even still, the best news of all is that study abroad grants and scholarships are becoming increasingly available to make your summer, semester, or year-long program dreams come true!

WaitWhat? Figuring out Study Abroad Grants

The importance of studying abroad continues to become unmistakably evident and campaigns like Generation Study Abroad are building a community of countries, non-profits, companies, and universities to increase the number of U.S. students going abroad each year. As a result of this momentum, start your search for the growing number of study abroad scholarships and grants and get yourself on that next international flight.

What is the Difference Between Grants and Scholarships? 

Study abroad grants are typically distributed by government agencies or philanthropic organizations, so think of those prestigious State Department programs or Andrew Mellon Foundation fellowships. Don’t be afraid though, while these awards can be competitive, you’re totally capable of putting your application in the running. Grants in general can also be awarded to organizations, not just individuals. 

Meanwhile, study abroad scholarships are equally awesome sources of funding for your travels, but usually come from non-profit organizations or companies. When deciding to apply for a grant vs. scholarship, these two types of awards are effectively equal in providing the coveted funds for an experience abroad, just from different sources.

If you’re already receiving a grant or scholarship towards your university tuition, you may be eligible to apply this funding to your time abroad depending on the program you choose and your school’s policies. Government grants and scholarships, as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, can be applied to study abroad tuition if both your program and home university are eligible to participate in the federal aid programs. As you start your study abroad research, reach out to both the Study Abroad Office on your campus and the program of your choice to determine the best option for your personal situation.

close up of fanned out euros
MONEY Study abroad grants PLEEEASE!

How to Find Study Abroad Funding

Now that you’re excited about the wide array of opportunities for study abroad funding, it’s time to start searching. No need to reinvent the wheel though when there are plenty of resources out there for you to explore. Here are three for a kickstart: 

  1. GoAbroad Scholarship Directory: Check out our scholarship directory for more information about applying for study abroad grants and scholarships, as well as a big list for you to start determining which award best fits your plans. Some study abroad scholarships focus on your destination, so if funding is already on your mind when you first decide to go abroad, check out regional or country-specific scholarship and grant options.
  2. Your University’s Study Abroad Office: With the goal of helping students on your campus go abroad, the advisors in your university’s study abroad office are a great in-person resource for all your questions and concerns. They also will have special insight into any university, local, or statewide grants that are available and have been successful for students from your school.
  3. The Internet: It might seem like a huge undertaking to find funding from the expanse of the World Wide Web, but with some spot on keywords, you’ll have scholarship success with a simple Google search. Start typing based on your destination, field of study, or home state or university to see which study abroad grants or scholarships are applicable. Amidst the thousands of hits, you might just strike gold with the opportunity that matches your rockstar qualifications. 
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You won’t be needing one of these to grant you funding!

What You Need to Apply

Study abroad scholarship and grant recipients are determined based on a number of factors, but two of the most common include your grades and some form of an essay or project proposal.  When applying to your study abroad program, you likely already had to get a copy of your transcript and know the drill. When applying for different study abroad scholarships and grants, you should hit up your transcript office to ensure that you meet those deadlines with the official or unofficial copies required. Other pieces of information to have on hand are your GPA, your extracurricular achievements, the contact details for several references, and an updated copy of your resume that shows off the leadership skills and active commitment you will bring to your time abroad. 

Perhaps the most important piece of your scholarship or grant application will be the personal statement or essay that details why you deserve to be awarded the funds. This is a great opportunity to sit down and consider why it’s important to you, your studies, and your career to go abroad. 

Consider what skills and experiences you will gain abroad versus on staying campus, or what the particular destination you choose means to you both personally and professionally. Reflecting and making goals will not only help you to write a standout scholarship essay but also provide some meaning and intention to your time abroad once you land in your destination. By convincing the scholarship or grant committee of the urgency of your study abroad adventure, you’ll also convince yourself enough to make the most of every minute.

shot from above, woman in white sitting on white bedspread with laptop typing
Craft a killer personal statement and take that study abroad grant all the way to the bank.

(Some of) Our Favorite Study Abroad Grants

It’s so hard to choose when there are so many awesome funding opportunities right at your fingertips! But, if we had to, some of our favorites are:

  • Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program: Awarded by the U.S. Department of State, this prestigious grant is intended to support U.S. undergraduate students who pursue study abroad or for-credit internships abroad. The Gilman Program was founded with the intention to diversify both the population of students going abroad and their countries of destination. Scholarships can be up to $5,000 or $8,000, if studying a Critical Need Language. 
  • Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund: If you’re passionate about social justice and plan to continue your commitment to your community activism values while abroad, then the Davis-Putter Scholarship is a perfect opportunity to fund both your studies in the USA and abroad. Engaging in social change while abroad is an amazing way to immerse in the local community and go beyond being a tourist in your destination of choice. Look for programs that align with your social issue interests and then share your passion with the Davis-Putter Fund to gain the grant to make it happen! 
  • Critical Language Scholarships: Half the fun of going abroad is learning a language, and this grant from the U.S. Department of State is there to support aspiring linguists abroad. Even if you can only go abroad for a brief time, the CLS Program is perfect as it funds U.S. undergraduate and graduate students for “overseas language and cultural immersion programs,” specifically during the summer months. Check if your language of interest is eligible and then apply to get that funding to dive deep into your studies abroad. 
  • Fund for Education Abroad Scholarship: Since 2010, the FEA has been helping undergraduate students go abroad with generous awards of $10,000 for an academic year, $5,000 for one semester, and $1,250 for summer programs. Plus, you might qualify for one of their additional, dedicated scholarships based on your cross-cultural interests, identity, destination country, or hometown. With 50 scholarships and thorough support for their application process, the FEA is a genuine advocate for students of all backgrounds to go abroad! 
sunset across european cityscape

Study abroad grants and scholarships will help you make this stunning view a reality!

Feeling empowered and inspired? Even if you’re feeling strapped for travel adventure cash, there are so many organizations and offices on and off campus to support you in making your study abroad dreams come true. The earlier the better to secure all the funding necessary for your program and host country, so start your research and applying today!

Score additional funding by starting a campaign on FundMyTravel.