Financing Study Abroad Opportunities

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Finding the dollars…and yen, and kroner, and pesos

By Rachele Kanigel


RacheleVeniceWhether you’re staying in dorm rooms, hostels or host homes, whether you’re traveling by plane, train or camel, studying in a foreign country is expensive.

But that doesn’t mean students have to go into debt to finance their global adventures. Many can find help from scholarships, grants and even their Aunt Agnes.

Some schools, like Indiana University, heavily subsidize international education.

“Because IU Journalism has for so long emphasized the importance of global journalism, our alumni are very generous in their support of our international efforts,” said Indiana University journalism professor James Kelly, who has taken groups of students to Kenya and England. “We draw on several endowments to subsidize the travel of every journalism student who enrolls in any of our courses with travel components. The university also provides financial support to our students to travel, both in the form of direct funding to our school and through a number of study-abroad scholarships directly to students.”

Students at California State University Fullerton paid only a few hundred dollars for their two-week medical missions to Vietnam in 2010 and 2011 and to Cambodia in 2012. The medical missionary organizations they traveled with picked up some of the tab and associate professor Jeffrey Brody was able to get other support from the university to subsidize the cost to students.

Even when programs aren’t subsidized, students can usually find some kind of help.

Students who are interested should check with their campus financial aid office AND their international programs office for funding. Academic departments also sometimes have money squirreled away to help students who want to take advantage of study-abroad opportunities. And a number of organizations, including Go! Overseas, The Fund for Education Abroad and the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society offer scholarships for students to study abroad.

The Overseas Press Club offers 14 $2,000 scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students who aspire to become foreign correspondents.

Crowdfunding is another alternative to financing a study-abroad program. Several online donation sites, including, Go Get Funding, and the newly launched Fund My Travel, help students raise funds for study-abroad programs and overseas internships. Participants can create a customized webpage that describes their travel plans and sets a fundraising goal. They can then share the page with friends, family members and other contacts through social networking sites.