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Funding your Study Abroad

Studying abroad is an investment in your future. Like any other type of investment, it requires planning, careful management, creativity, perseverance and commitment. The personal, academic and professional rewards will last a lifetime. The information here is designed to assist you in planning how to finance your time overseas.

PLANNING AHEAD

Calculate all of your current on-campus costs. To determine your annual budget, add up your rent, meals, tuition & fees, travel expenses (don't forget spring break trips and special things you might do on a long weekend!), entertainment, books, supplies, etc. The Office of Financial Aid at your institution has determined what an average student spends per year on tuition and fees, room and board, transportation, books, and personal expenses. Use this as a baseline for comparison of costs abroad.

Check the cost sheet for the program in which you plan to enroll for a list of expenses -- there you will find a items included in the program fee and an estimate of costs not included.

Make the program work toward your long-term goals and it will be worth the investment.

Apply for financial aid well in advance. Determining your award ahead of time will help you budget accordingly.

Set priorities. Choose to work longer hours or get a part-time job for additional funds towards study abroad. Consider postponing the purchase of that "perfect" car and use the fund for your program.

RECEIVING FINANCIAL AID

Your financial aid can be used to help cover the costs of a study program in most cases.

If you currently receive financial aid, consult with your study abroad advisor regarding how you can use your financial aid to help finance your study abroad experience. You can find links to your financial aid office here.

If you are not currently receiving financial aid, you may apply for aid by completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) available at your financial aid office or at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov

While the amount of your aid can be increased due to the additional costs involved in studying abroad, do not assume you will be awarded 100% of the money needed to cover the costs of your program. Always seek additional sources of funding.

APPLYING FOR SCHOLARSHIPS

You’ll find a listing of scholarships here in our website, and you are encouraged to consult with your study abroad advisor about any campus-based scholarships that might be available. Their office may also have resources available for you (books, articles, databases). Local professional and social societies, and service organizations may also provide scholarship opportunities.

IDEAS FOR CREATIVE FUNDRAISING

Fundraising will help to make your trip more affordable and serves as a way to educate the public.

If you select a program that helps achieve your long-term goals, it will be easier to solicit funds from external sources. Keep in mind that local, regional and national groups, as well as individuals, are all possible contributors. They include:

  • Heritage groups that have interests in specific countries (e.g. Japan America Society)
  • Civic groups (Rotary, Kiwanis, and Lions Clubs)
  • Agencies and foundations
  • Travel agencies
  • High school alumni associations
  • Professional and business clubs
  • Media (newspapers, radio and TV)
  • Sororities and fraternities (local and national chapters)
  • Vocational rehabilitation agencies (for students with disabilities)
  • Charitable, ethnic, religious and campus organizations

Direct, informal appeals often work best. Be specific on how you intend to spend the funds (airfare, program fee, tuition, personal travel, special projects, etc.). Include a photo of yourself with your request so that the receiver will establish a personal connection with you. Enthusiasm, creativity, and perseverance on your part - and not fearing rejection in some instances - will likely take you a long way.

In exchange for financial support, you should pledge to "give something back," such as regular updates while you are abroad. Alternatively, upon your return you could write an article; show a video or slides from your experience; lead a discussion or seminar; organize a topical campus or community forum; promote educational and business exchanges; participate in radio and televised interviews and broadcasts; contribute community service and outreach; or help others to have a similar international experience.

Ideas that have worked:

  • Waive holiday and birthday gifts and request financial gifts or loans instead.
  • Write a creative letter to all your relatives, asking for financial support in exchange for monthly letters while abroad and a presentation and dinner upon return.
  • Ask friends to join you in raising money by painting, cleaning or washing cars.
  • Organize an event where you and/or some friends donate instruction for a couple of hours (cooking, quilting, yoga, karate, computer skills, dancing, sign language, stained glass, woodworking, etc.).
  • Sell coffee and baked goods with a sign stating your purpose.
  • Collect used books, CD's, computer software, etc. and have a sale.
  • Ask your church, synagogue, mosque or temple to sponsor a special offering, dinner, or raffle and give the proceeds for study abroad.
  • Organize a radio talk show and solicit contributions.
  • Approach stores for donated supplies such as clothing, camping gear, etc.
  • Find out if your parents' employers have a scholarship program for their children or find out if your employer will make a cash advance to be paid back through payroll deduction. No harm in asking!
  • In exchange for the use of your car while you're gone, have a friend or sibling make all or part of your car payments.
  • Organize a can drive in the residence halls.
  • Collect cans during football tailgating (be sure to identify yourself and your purpose so fans will readily pass on their cans and bottles).
  • SAVE, SAVE, SAVE!

Keep careful records of who supported you and the amount. Be sure to express your appreciation for their support. Your energy and enthusiasm for an international experience will be contagious! Good luck!

With special thanks to the Office of Study Abroad at Michigan State University

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