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How to Fund a Semester Overseas

Steven Lewis

Written by  August 14, 2012

Three ways to finance your study abroad experience.

1. Research scholarships.

For students who would like to study abroad, there are a number of scholarships available through university international offices. “Most universities have funding tied to their official programs. So look at those areas first,” advises Beth Alaksa, York International’s Coordinator for International Mobility. Alaksa also notes that there is even funding available from universities and governments (including those in Japan, Germany, Australia and Great Britain) for Canadian students to study abroad. “More of our host universities are offering money for our students to go there,” she says.

In addition to funds that are officially tied to programs, research community or external scholarships that may help finance your study abroad experience. Verge study abroad blogger Beth Saunders received $1000 from a local community group, which will cover the cost of her flights overseas. (See below for links and resources on where to search for scholarships.)

2. Apply for loans.

While going into debt for a study abroad program is far from ideal, students planning to spend a semester abroad are usually eligible for government loans, which compliment scholarships and savings.

Alaksa also recommends considering applying for a student line of credit from your bank prior to departure. “It’s a good thing to look at as your emergency fund,” she explains. “You might want to have access to some funds that are manageable and a little more secure than just your parents just having to send you money when you need it.”

3. Host a fundraising event.

Although scholarships and bursaries are readily available for study abroad programs that have been coordinated through university international offices, they may be trickier to receive when exchanges are self-arranged.

In 2006, Ryerson University journalism student Canice Leung decided to spend her summer in an intensive four-week photography program at Parsons Design School in New York. Since many scholarships were unavailable to Leung, she was concerned about the cost of the program and her living expenses. Thinking creatively, she partnered with a friend to host a fundraising event, which generated enough revenue to cover a portion of her tuition.

Much like volunteering abroad, friends and family may be surprisingly likely to support your cause if you explain how and why you are furthering your education by studying abroad.
 
For more information on fundraising, check out 10 Ways to Fundraise for Volunteer Travel and Beg, Borrow or Fundraise.

And remember—studying abroad is an investment worth making.

While studying abroad may mean making a large upfront investment, the payoff is invaluable. According to the Council for International Educational Exchange, employers are much more likely to hire graduates who have overseas experience—the importance placed on overseas internships and study abroad experiences is second only to majoring or minoring in a foreign language.

Alaksa says that she has witnessed students returning with improved confidence and team-building skills, but that figuring out how to fund a study abroad experience also has lasting effects. “Students have found that if you make a study abroad experience work for you, then you can make everything work for you,” says Alaksa.

Additional study abroad funding resources:

Links of Study Abroad Scholarships and Alternative Funding Resources Available

Resources for American Students:

Myths and Realities of Financing Study Abroad

Financial Aid for Study Abroad: An Undergraduate Student’s Resource

Resources for Canadian Students

Scholarships Canada

Student Awards

Financial Assistance for Post-Secondary Education

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Jessica Lockhart

Contributing Editor

Although Jessica has travelled to more than 30 countries, her favorite place to throw down her bag is still her hometown of Cold Lake, Alberta. A freelance journalist, Jess has worked for international development organizations and tour operators. She’s conducted workshops in Vanuatu, perfected the use of a satellite phone in the jungles of Guyana and supervised teenage pool parties in the Dominican Republic. Although she's based in Toronto, Jess works remotely from all around the world.

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