3 Ways To Fund Your Study Abroad Without Taking On Debt
For college students, studying abroad can be the experience of a lifetime. In addition to the incredible experience of learning at a foreign university, students get the chance to live abroad for a semester, a summer, or even a full academic year, traveling, interacting with locals, and picking up a foreign language. Time spent studying abroad can prove far more valuable than almost any other experience — yet it comes at a cost.
College is expensive.
Americans are increasingly worried about rising student loan debt. While most students and their families are thrilled at the prospect of studying abroad, they may be concerned about the cost. After all, if you are like most students and are already tens of thousands of dollars in debt for your education, adding on additional expenses for flying to a foreign country and living there may seem insurmountable. Despite this, 35% of college students rely on student loan money to fund study abroad.
Yet there are options for college students who want to study abroad and are worried about how to finance it. From scholarships and grants to fundraising and side hustles, there are many different ways that you can study abroad without taking on debt.
Find a Scholarship or a Grant
For anyone interested in studying abroad, the internet can be an incredible resource. Not only can you learn a lot about where you are planning to live and study — you can also find out if an organization or program offers a scholarship or grant for participants.
There are many different types of scholarships, grants and other funds available for different schools, study abroad programs, countries and types of students. With so many different scholarships and grants available, it makes it more likely that you will be able to find some funding to help you pay for your travel.
Of course, finding these scholarships and grants can be challenging, which is where your web-sleuthing skills can come in handy. There are a wide range of online databases that list scholarships and grants for college students who want to study abroad – one example is StudyAbroad.com.
These sites allow you to do a general search for scholarships or search by specific criteria, such as the university that you plan to attend or the program that you will study while there, to find a scholarship or grant.
Your own college or university may also offer scholarships or grants for students studying abroad. The study abroad officer on campus or your financial aid officer can provide you with more information about potential funding sources for your travel.
If you are working through a study abroad program, you may be eligible for a scholarship or grant through the program itself. Contact the program to determine if they have any funding available for students who are studying abroad through their program.
Start a GoFundMe
If you are serious about studying abroad without going into debt, why not ask for help? There are numerous platforms available that will allow you to crowdfund your expenses, such as GoFundMe.
You can tell your story, emphasizing the incredible value of studying abroad, why it is so important to you, and what you hope to bring back with you as a result of your time in a foreign country. Share the link with friends and family, and ask them to donate instead of birthday gifts or holiday gifts. While you may not be able to fully fund your trip in this manner, every little bit helps — and can put towards your ultimate goal of studying abroad without debt.
Alternatively, you can go old school with your fundraising and take it offline. Host a car wash or a garage sale, with all proceeds to benefit your study abroad travel fund. Ask your friends and family to pitch in with ideas and donations, and figure out creative ways to come up with extra cash for your time abroad.
Get a Side Hustle
If you are lucky enough to be studying abroad in a destination location, then you can use this factor to your advantage. Pick up some gigs while you are living there that take advantage of your unique situation. Write travel blogs about living in this location, take amazing pictures, or even rent out your apartment when you are touring around the country.
By picking up side jobs and income streams while studying abroad, you can avoid going into debt while you are living in another country — and still have fun while you are there.
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Jacob is the voice behind Dollar Diligence, a personal finance blog focused on debt repayment and savings strategies. Find him on Twitter for new articles and tips.