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How To Fund Your Study Abroad Experience

Attending college is a unique experience in itself, but adding an overseas course of study to your education can enhance that experience like nothing else. As wonderful as it is, studying abroad can also be quite expensive, and can add to your already large tuition bills. Don’t give up on your dream of studying in Eastern Europe or South America, though. You have several funding options available to you.

Apply for a Scholarship

Scholarships aren’t just for tuition and books. Several scholarships have been created for the sole purpose of funding overseas study. If you’re aiming to study abroad to help you learn a language, many professors advise this path and there are scholarships that fund both tuition and studying abroad. Either way, most scholarships for overseas study will require a demonstrated interest in foreign language study, or a familiarity with another language to make the student’s time in-country more productive and beneficial Don’t forget there will most likely be other scholarship requirements such as a certain grade point average, or a particular major or minor.

Apply for Financial Aid

The advantage of financial aid over a scholarship is that the requirements to obtain it may be a little less strict since money is loaned with the agreement that it will be paid back. However, it’s also possible to find grants for overseas study which, similar to a scholarship, will have some specific requirements to be met prior to the money being awarded. Just remember to not get in over your head. If you already have several student loans, carefully assess your finances before taking on another one, even if it’s a smaller amount meant just for a few weeks or months of study abroad.

Set Up a Savings Account

If you find yourself already bogged down with student loans and don’t want to add to your debt, and you’re unable to secure a scholarship or grant, you don’t have to miss out on overseas study opportunities. Once you make the decision that you’d like to participate in an overseas study program, start saving money. This will be easier if you have a part-time job outside of school. You can even take on tutoring students if there’s a particular subject where you excel. Or participate in a rewards program that offers college savings. Determine how much money you’ll need, and then set up a savings account just for your study abroad goal. And even if you are fortunate enough to win a scholarship or grant, having your own money to spend while you’re in-country will be a nice bonus.

More Money-Saving Tips

Try not to assume that once you have a scholarship or loan in hand, the rest of your money can go toward shopping and seeing the sights. Remember, you’re there to study, not go on vacation. The last thing you want to do is run out of money halfway into the program—it would make the last half of your stay very difficult and dull.

Here are a few more tips to help you save even more, and get the most out of your overseas study experience.

Choose a less expensive country with a good exchange rate

Everyone knows how cool London is. But it’s expensive. The exchange rate usually hovers somewhere around 1.5 American dollars for one British pound. Ouch. Besides, there’s no language challenge in England. Choose a less expensive country with an exchange rate friendlier to your native country’s currency, and where English is not the primary language. You’ll gain a better appreciation for the country and its people if you have to make an effort to communicate with them.

Since it’s usually a prerequisite, you may already be studying a foreign language in college. If you’re studying Spanish, like many college students, why not study abroad in Argentina? It’s a much less expensive place to travel, all you have to do is brush up on your Spanish phrases and save up during summer break and you’ll be on your way.

Get discounted airfare for students

Many study abroad programs have relationships with travel agencies and airlines to offer students discounted fares. Some airlines even offer those lower fares directly to students without any middle man. Do your homework to find these fares. The money you save on airfare can be put toward your stay abroad.

Try to stay with a host family instead of at a hostel

In some study abroad programs, staying with a host family is a given. But if it’s not set up by the program you choose, find out about the possibility of staying with a family while you’re overseas. You’ll still need to contribute to the household since they’ll be offering you room and board, but it shouldn’t be as expensive as even a hostel would be. Some added benefits are getting to know the family, learning about their culture, and improving your language skills by interacting with them on a daily basis.

Be prudent, plan ahead, and make sure you have enough money before you go, and the time you spend studying abroad will make for some of your fondest memories.

This article was brought to you by Susan Taylor. Susan is a former English teacher, writer and stay at home mom who knows the challenges students face in today’s education system. If you would like to reach Susan, please feel free to drop her a line at susanrctaylor@gmail.com

Source: CheapScholar.org  Posted on September 08, 2011