After Nate’s most recent and supremely fabulous blog post, I was sorely tempted to follow the same trend today and do a piece on the Eurovision song contest just for giggles. However, after much debate (cough, ten minutes, cough) I decided to take a more serious note and focus on something that concerns every student in regards to education abroad: cost.
We’ve all heard (and most likely used) the phrase, “I’m just a poor college student". Yes, that’s accurate, considering that most of us are striving to make ends meet between paying our tuition, utility bills, rent, monthly food bill and more. It doesn’t help that over the last 20 years the cost of tuition has been steadily on the rise across the nation and yet salaries are decreasing across the board. For more on that fun topic check out this video. But that doesn't mean you cannot afford to study abroad.
Generally, advising appointments in the education abroad office go something like this: student is excited and thrilled to learn about adviser’s experiences, becomes even more ecstatic when we have narrowed down their program opportunities to two-three options, and then his/her facial expression reverts into one of consternation/terror when we show them a cost comparison sheet. Well, it’s my job next to wipe that sorrowful look off their face by informing them about all the grants, programs and scholarship opportunities available to students intending to study abroad.
(I know, repeat usage, but it's so accurate!)
First off, check out the Financial Resources page on the UW-Platteville education abroad site.
On that page you will find a gateway to get to program specific scholarships such as these following items!
The first item you should look into on that page is actually at the very bottom: the UW-Platteville Study Abroad Grant. Only for UW-Platteville students, this grant awards $300 to short term study abroad students and between $725-$1800. Now, you’re probably wondering where the catch is? The catch is, there isn’t one. All you have to do for this grant is meet the criteria, fill out a piece of paper, and assist at a few education abroad events upon your return. Easiest money you’ll ever earn, considering all those events are just opportunities to share your study abroad stories with fellow students. For more information on that grant check out this link.
I’m sure that while you were on the Financial Resources page you probably decided to terrify yourself and clicked open the Cost Comparison sheet. Don’t panic. Yes, those numbers are accurate, but no that does not mean you’ll spend $4,000 out of pocket during your study abroad program. Notice first that I specified by saying “out of pocket” and secondly realize that in that comparison sheet it only lists the UW-Platteville $1800 grant and financial aid as deductions. There is no mention of all the other possible scholarship opportunities targeted towards or looking for education abroad students.
Firstly, there are scholarships out there specifically targeted towards education abroad participants. I am going to name a few you should check out ASAP, but feel free to explore the internet and find other opportunities since the actual list is much, much longer.
1) The Gilman: Have you received a Pell Grant for the next academic year, are a student looking to develop yourself and others, and want a little extra monetary help doing so? Apply for the Gilman. They give out approximately 2,300 scholarships of $4000 each year, so as long as you fill in all the information and follow the program, you will most likely receive their assistance. For more details, check out this link.
2) If you’re intending to study abroad in a more unusual country outside the Europe/Australia mix, then you should definitely apply for a Boren Scholarship. They will award up to $20,000 to each student based on his or her criteria and needs. For more information on that opportunity go to here.
3) There is a fabulous site called studyabroad.com that has a “short list” of education abroad focused scholarships that can be found here.
Secondly, all the scholarships you would generally apply for regardless of whether you’re studying abroad or not will generally be more willing to award you money once they realize you’re studying abroad. Since we are living in a global economy, most of the companies that fund those scholarships want students to get familiar with intercultural communication and global learning. How better to do that than to study abroad?
1) As usual, I first recommend going to PASS all you UW-Platteville students and filling out the scholarships on there like normal. If you haven’t got that scheme down, check out this helpful list from the Financial Aid office.
2) Next, if you didn’t know yet, there are complete search engines online dedicated to helping you find all those unusual scholarships put on by companies around the US and internationally that you’ve never heard of such as this lovely website.
3) Lastly, stop into the Financial Aid Office in Brigham Hall since they have all sorts of tips, tricks and advice regarding not only how to find the best scholarships, but also how to successfully write your scholarship essays in order to receive all the fabulous free support.
There is still one more highly successful way to accumulate more funds towards your study abroad program: your family and community. No, I am not advising you to run around your home town with a your study abroad flyer and a coin cup begging for money, but countless students have approached their hometown companies, churches and interest groups requesting support towards their study abroad. Usually, the students present about their program before the trip and inform the supporters how the experiences will help the student improve as an individual, and then when they return they do another presentation on the how it all went and what they learned. I know I was personally too nervous to request support from my community, but if you have a comfortable relationship and are willing to give a few presentations, then I’m sure you’ll get that extra backing.
P.S.- Generally part of the Gilman Scholarship is some sort of community awareness project. Hint hint, that community outreach for support would most likely qualify.
Applying for all these grants and scholarships may seem daunting, but they will greatly help relieve your stress when you’re abroad because you won’t have to concern yourself with where you next rent bill will come from. So stay committed, fill out all the paperwork, and be prepared to accept everyone’s support. You’ll be surprised by how many people believe in and want to support you. They see what a success you currently are and how much greater you can become through education abroad. So let them help you.
Lastly, I just need you to promise me one thing now that we’ve discussed financial concerns at length. Never forget that although money is a key factor in your life, it should never deter you from living.