Study Abroad: Funding Your Trip

When I started thinking about studying abroad, one of the first things that I wanted to know was how much it actually cost to do so.  At UNC Asheville, students usually pay tuition for their study abroad experience directly to UNC Asheville (the same cost as attending university here).  However, if you do a very short-term program or if you follow the same path that I did (attending a university with which UNC Asheville does not have an established relationship), you'll pay directly to the school abroad.

In the end, regardless of whether you pay UNC Asheville or a foreign university, you're going to need money to pay for living expenses once you arrive at your destination.  You'll probably be following a meal plan or living with a host family during your time abroad, so theoretically you won't have to worry so much about budgeting for food, but you will definitely have other things that you either need or want to purchase.  For example, when I was in South Korea, I had to buy bedding, towels, and shower supplies, none of which I had even thought about bringing.  I also found that in Korea, many people meet their friends for coffee, which generally starts at $5.50 (small size), and, as a consequence, I frequented coffee shops upwards of three times a week.  These excursions were great for socializing and studying, but ended up being pretty expensive.  My point: you're going to need money.  

Luckily, there are a ton of scholarships available to help offset these costs.  If you're receiving federal aid money, this will carry over when you pay the tuition for your semester or year abroad to UNC Asheville.  Here are just a few sources that offer funding:

  • Many organizations and institutions actually offer scholarships to those seeking to expand cultural horizons abroad.   From my experiences, there are a lot more scholarships available for study abroad in more "popular" countries like France, Italy, Spain, and so forth, so if you're planning on visiting any of these places, you've definitely got a lot of options.  Many organizations have essay or video contests for varying sums to be applied to experiences abroad.  
  • UNC Asheville also offers a fairly competitive scholarship for study abroad (based, I believe, on need as well as academic merit).  You can find information on these scholarships on the Study Abroad website, there are a lot of study abroad resources listed to help.  
  • The US government also provides scholarships for study abroad, especially if you are studying in a region whose language is considered to be "critical."  These scholarships tend to be more focused on long-term language acquisition, so although I was travelling to a country whose language is currently considered "critical," I was not eligible for the scholarship because my program was for only five weeks.  Frustrating?  Yes. 
  • Local organizations such as the Rotary Club also offer scholarships for study abroad.  If you're interested in attaining one of these scholarships, you need to apply early. I missed the deadline for my application by about a year.  
TIP: I would recommend a quick Google search for available funding.  You can search for scholarships by region and college major.  I found that some of the most popular destination-oriented scholarships included China, Japan, Germany, and Italy.I investigated, and applied to several Asia-Pacific oriented scholarships when I was preparing for my trip.  Because I am not a math or science major, I was unable to apply for scholarships which I would otherwise have been well-qualified.

Have I exhausted you?  I hope not, but  do want to make it clear that although it's costly to study abroad, there are so many resources available to help make it happen.  As a student hoping to study in a foreign country, you should realize that because there are so many resources, it can be pretty daunting to try to navigate the various websites, brochures, and applications until you find that will ultimately be the most help to you.  The information I have provided is really just, as they say, the "tip of the iceberg," and should get you thinking about the world of information and aid out there to the student who looks.


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