No Excuses! 9 Ways to Help Pay For Your Study Abroad


Exposure to international destinations can have a profound effect on people’s perspectives, but the cost can be prohibitive. (Thinkstock)

We love study-abroad programs here at Yahoo Travel. Most people who have studied abroad say it was one of the best things they’ve ever done. The White House has even determined that study-abroad programs are a critical component to improving international relations. Back in December, the Obama administration gathered more than 100 of the country’s most prominent travel bloggers and digital journalists in Washington D.C. as part of a push to find new ways to encourage more Americans to study abroad.


Study abroad is often considered a pivotal event in a young person’s life. (Thinkstock)

Fewer than 10 percent percent of students currently take part in study-abroad programs. One of those reasons is the high cost. The average semester away can cost over $17,000 (according to figures from the Institute of International Education), making the prospect of study abroad daunting for most students. But by knowing your resources and getting a bit creative you can be well on your way to financing a once-in-a-lifetime journey.

Here are nine ways to help pay for study abroad:

1. Council on International Educational Exchange Scholarship
Some universities offer their own scholarship programs, but there are numerous outside options dedicated to helping those who want to study abroad. In fact, the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) is giving out around $20 million in scholarships. That could add up to 1,000 more students attending a semester program on full scholarship or 5,000 more students attending a summer or short-term program. CIEE will also sponsor passports for 10,000 students to enable participation. “Studying abroad must be viewed as an essential component of a college degree and critical to preparing future leaders,” said Institute of International Education president and chief executive officer Allan E. Goodman. “CIEE’s greatly expanded outreach and scholarship offerings will make a significant contribution to expanding and diversifying the population of students who have the opportunity to study abroad."

Related: I Met My Fiance on Study Abroad in Spain


The cost of study abroad shouldn’t stop you from doing it. (Thinkstock)

2. Work Remotely

If you don’t have much employment history, it might seem impossible to convince a company to let you work remotely. But with more and more companies turning to a digital workforce, it’s never been easier. You may not be able to earn a paycheck working for a company in your host country while you’re abroad, but there aren’t any laws against working for a company while you’re abroad. Opportunities like being a virtual assistant or freelance writing can help pay for your time away.

3. Council of American Overseas Research Centers Scholarship

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program aims to increase the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages. If you are looking to learn and master a foreign language, then this scholarship could have you on your way to fully-funded group-based intensive language instruction. (Even round-trip travel is included.) On top of that, CLS ensures that you will be fully immersed in the culture and have plenty of fun side trips and experiences during the seven to 10 weeks that you’re abroad.

Related: Why Does the White House Want Help From Travel Bloggers?

4. Throw Yourself a Fundraising Goodbye Party

Who doesn’t like going to a party? Why not throw one — and instead of asking your friends and family to bring booze, you can ask them donate money to your study-abroad fund. Going to Spain? Have a paella party! Heading to Japan? Serve sushi and sake. List a goal for how much you are looking to earn, and with this fabulous fete you might be making a dent in your study-abroad costs in no time.

Related: How You Need to Pack to Study Abroad

Tell your friends you don’t want beer. You want cash or traveler’s checks. (Thinkstock)

5. Academic Programs International Scholarships

Academic Programs International (API) offers several awards ranging from $250 to $1,000 per student and totaling approximately $400,000 annually. API’s Regional Scholarship is for those with a GPA higher than 3.0. The First Generation Scholarship is designed to support students who are the first in their family to attend a college or university. API also has a STEM scholarship that’s offered to participants who are studying science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Students can apply for multiple scholarships, which could add up to major savings.

6. Find a Sponsor

Reaching out to a business to sponsor your trip might not be the easiest way to raise funds, but the payoff could be huge. If there is a specific company you dream of working for, send a sponsorship letter saying how this trip will contribute to your career goals and the company’s mission. Think about reaching out to a local business where you grew up: you’d be surprised who might be willing to help you out.

7. Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program offers grants for U.S. citizens who are undergraduate students of limited financial means looking to pursue academic studies or credit-bearing, career-oriented internships abroad. While the application process can be lengthy, the pay off is huge, with an average $4,000 given out to each recipient.

Related: New Year, New Life—You’re Never Too Old to Study Abroad

8. Choose a Country That Will Help Pay

While education costs in America are steadily increasing, some countries offer free higher education, even to foreigners. Germany, Finland, and Norway all offer tuition-free education. France’s public university system charges only a small tuition fee of about $200 for most programs. Sweden offers free PhD programs, while Slovenia and Brazil only charge a minimal registration fee.

9. Pick Up Odd Jobs

If your focus during the school year is to just get good grades and you don’t have time for a part-time job, odd jobs could be the way to land some extra cash. “I looked on my school’s job board for one-time gigs that paid a few hundred bucks,” says Colleen Wood, who studied abroad in Ireland. “I was a caterer for a Rosh Hashanah dinner, a bartender at Christmas party at a retirement home, I helped decorate Santa’s workshop at the mall over night, and I donated blood every 90 days for $100 a pop. It all helped to pay for my costs abroad.”

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