We don't need to convince you of the benefits of studying abroad—you already know you'll gain an incredible leg-up in your career, unrivaled hands-on learning experiences, and self-development to the max. What we do need to convince you of is that, despite the sometimes high costs of studying abroad, it's worth it. It's not only within your realm of financial possibility, it's incredibly achievable at that (thanks in large part to study abroad scholarships!). Don't believe us? Here's everything you need to know to land scholarships for studying abroad.
One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish! Suffice it to say that those students who are currently attending a two or four year institution are typically eligible to apply for most study abroad scholarships. Be sure your grades are up to par, though—the majority of scholarship selection committees consider a student's academic qualifications to be influential in their decision. So, if you had a semester where you bombed all of your classes, be prepared to do some explaining in your study abroad scholarship application essays. (It's definitely NOT a dealbreaker, but you have to convince them you're worth investing in!).
There are also particular study abroad scholarships available for minorities and other identity groups (like LGBTIQ+) with the aim of increasing access to study abroad to a wider variety of students. Diversity, baby! This can be a helpful avenue to pursue if you think you are underrepresented in international education.
Students of specific fields of study, such as STEM, might qualify for additional study abroad scholarships. Further, if you're an athlete, musician, or have some special skill, there might be scholarships out there to help you pursue that passion abroad.
There are multiple kinds of study abroad scholarships out there, good news for students who are gung-ho to apply for many awards.
- Merit based scholarships: Are you the VIP of the 4.0 club? Have you gotten straight A's since the womb? Merit-based scholarships for study abroad have your name all over them.
- Fully-funded scholarships will cover the majority of your costs while abroad. You might need to cover incidental expenses, but your tuition, flights, housing, and other bills are taken care of.
- Program-specific scholarships are offered by domestic universities, international universities, and the providers that are organizing your trip. These vary in amounts, from $250 to multiple thousands, as well as vary in application requirements.
- Government-sponsored scholarships not only look really good on your resume, but they can also substantially decrease your overhead as you plan your travels. The catch? Your studies usually have to be critical language-oriented or you need to be a first-generation student.
- Specialized scholarships. If you're a track star wanting to study fitness in Australia, a trombonist who wants to practice music in Germany, or a first gen student who craves adventure? Keep a lookout! People want you and will likely pay to help you with your goals.
Honestly, we've never heard anyone say: "If only I'd started my study abroad scholarship application process later." Generally speaking, you'll want to hop on and tame the beast as early as possible. Study abroad scholarship applications can take more time than you initially anticipate, especially considering you're tacking it on to your already-epic to-do list of the semester. These seven best practices for applying to scholarships can help you stay focused, but the applications themselves do remain time intensive.
Be sure to systemize how you juggle deadlines and application requirements—for instance, if you look ahead and know that 5+ apps require recommendation letters, why not ask one fan to print multiple copies of their glowing proposals? The more methodical and organized you are with your approach to finding and applying for scholarships, the better.
As you schedule time to fill out your applications, remember this: One scholarship equates to one application. Don't try to outsmart the system and reuse the same content or essays for multiple awards. Judges can sense the inauthenticity of these generic apps; instead, commit to researching each scholarship individually and catering to their specific requirements. Then boom. Watch the dollars come rolling in.
Besides the obvious perks of scoring money, freeing yourself of the financial stressors for study abroad allows you to focus more intently on your personal and professional goals for the trip. Why count your pounds to the last pence when you could be outside enjoying the fresh air (and rainfall) of Great Britain? Why worry checking your bank account for overdraft fees when you could be making all of your friends jealous with your latest epic selfie? But, committing to spending a semester or summer abroad is not a decision to be taken lightly.
Despite financial barriers, study abroad is an investment in your future and should be treated as such. When you stop looking at it like a whimsical vacation and more like a serious learning endeavor, the easier it will be to stay motivated on your 10th or 11th scholarship application.
Truth be told, even with more wiggle room in the wallet, you won't necessarily be able to say "Au revoir!" to cheap döner kebabs (they're a late night study abroad staple); however, you will give yourself a chance to truly soar as your study abroad self. Besides, picture your Mom and Dad's faces when you share the good news that you're a scholarship recipient. Cha-ching for all!
Maybe you don't realize it now, but you have ample amounts of resources available to you to find study abroad scholarships—and most aren't much further than arm's reach. Between GoAbroad, your guidance counselor, your university study abroad office, and your financial aid office, you can find study abroad scholarships on a whim.Like most millennial and Gen Z travelers, the easiest resource to consult for information is…well, the internet. What you're using right now. *Hi!* And lucky for you, this page is a gold mine of information and potential scholarships for studying abroad. Just keep scrolling around and you're bound to find what you're looking for!
Check out articles like 45 Scholarships for Study Abroad Around the World and the Complete Guide to Study Abroad Scholarships. Bookmark this scholarship search engine and reload it often—you never know when a new financial award will pop up in our listings!
Pro tip: Make yourself a dedicated spreadsheet where you house all links to potential scholarships, their application deadlines, what additional materials are required (like # of recs), and status updates on your application. It's nerdy, but it works—besides, well-planned organization is sexy. And can win you the big bucks for study abroad.