Study abroad funding – how can I afford this?!

By: Chelsea K., University Relations Coordinator, API Texas

(former API France/Rome/Syracuse Program Manager, and former API student in Grenoble, France: French Language & Culture Semester Program)

Less Money, Mo’ Problems

I have a confession to make: I am a slightly stubborn person. I know, I know- I can hear the collective gasp of feigned surprise from those who know me, but these things are not easily admitted. My trademark stubbornness manifests itself in many ways – an obsessively clean room, an unwillingness to lose at most any game, a perpetually furrowed brow and lots of determination. Determination which, when focused, can lead to life-changing outcomes.

my high school graduation

I was the first person in my immediate family to go to college. Slowly but surely, high school-me waded through the mountains of paperwork, the intricacies of the financial aid process, and independently wrestled with every decision. There is no Rocky-esque film montage here – it was tough and my journey wasn’t without its missteps and mistakes. But I made it! Insert here the euphoria of achieving a goal that you have worked so hard to earn. Fresh from the success of making it to my university of preference and a year of college under my belt, a new term began to enter the collective vocabulary of my group of friends- “study abroad.”

I stubbornly dismissed “study abroad” as a lofty goal – unattainable by people “like me,” “from my neighborhood,” in my tax bracket. I took hold of the misconception that I could never afford to study abroad and I stubbornly did not let go. It took, as it so often does, the example of others- a first hand view that study abroad COULD work! – to dissuade me from my thoughts. I wish I had believed more readily and allowed my trademark stubbornness a day off. If only someone had handed me a big sign that read:

YES! YOU TOO CAN STUDY ABROAD! I KNOW YOU’RE WORRIED ABOUT FUNDING! FOLLOW THESE EASY STEPS!

Alas, if life wasn’t consistently challenging then we wouldn’t be as strong as we are. So for all of the students out there, as stubborn as I was am, take this as your big, glittering life-sign- and offer yourself the invaluable experience of studying abroad.

FUNDING YOUR STUDY ABROAD EXPERIENCE: WHAT TO DO

1. FIND A PROGRAM OF GREAT VALUE: This means research. Lots and lots of research. And time. For me, this meant many Excel spreadsheets breaking down what programs did and didn’t include, and estimations of daily expenses. All of my research led me to API – the quality and quantity of resources for a great program price was the biggest motivating factor in my decision to study abroad with API. Note: I understand that value is subjective- which is another great aspect of study abroad. With so many options available, you are able to make the best possible decision for YOU.

Grenoble gals in Nice

2. MEET WITH YOUR FINANCIAL AID OFFICE: We all know that this is much easier said than done. As a graduate of a university with 55,000+ undergraduate students, I can sympathize. Visit the office, and speak to someone IN PERSON. It really helps. Also, bring a price breakdown of our program available on our website here. Oftentimes, the financial aid office can reformulate your financial aid package based on these new numbers.

3. APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS: No, really. APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS. There are many out there! API offers scholarships (more info here.) Check with your study abroad office (your university may have major-specific scholarships, college-specific scholarships, etc. or alumni who recognize the importance of global learning), third-party organizations (like the Gilman International Scholarship) and others in your community to find funding. I understand that you may be hesitant to embark on another paperwork-laden journey, but this road leads you to quite adventurous destinations!

 

My friend India and me in Paris

Here is the moral of my story: Don’t let anything hold you back from your goals – especially yourself. I can’t imagine my life without my study abroad experience. When discussing the cost of study abroad, so many people forget to mention the value. The value of study abroad is immeasurable – the skills attained, life experiences…experienced, and the unquantifiable swell of pride that comes from knowing you’ve worked hard to make something happen and it happened. I’ve now got a new stubborn perspective- that anyone CAN and SHOULD study abroad. Watch out, world.

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Comments

  1. Janet Thompson says

    I think that the importance of study abroad should be articulated to would-be
    college and university students as part of the admissions marketing process. This concept needs to be weaved into the admissions “pitch” as a integral part of study.

    • Jeramy Johnson says

      Great point Janet! I know that many universities are indeed doing as you suggest, but certainly there are many more who are not yet there…

  2. I think most students would be surprised at the amount of money available to study abroad. Just a little hard work and planning, and you’ve got it covered!

  3. A student can also find a part time job while studying abroad to fund their education.

    • Jeramy Johnson says

      Hi Talha! In some cases this is true, but it depends on the country and the visa awarded.

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