Student Travel Scholarships
Take a Full Ride to Another Country
Perhaps the only time in your life when you are offered free travel and free international opportunities through a university is as a student. Take advantage of this time in your life to study abroad and whether you wish to visit for a summer, a semester, or an entire year, it’s likely to become the defining experience of your college career. Studying abroad provides an opportunity for students to improve their foreign language skills that they have been diligently working at and increase their understanding of other cultures beyond their home classroom.
Funding your student travel and study abroad may seem overwhelming – there are currency exchanges, expensive tuition fees, visas, and travel costs just to get there. Luckily, though, there are a number of different American foundations that are giving away hundreds of thousands of dollar in scholarship money as an incentive for you to leave the country and come back a more worldly individual. Start by checking out the offerings in the study abroad office of your own school, and expand your research outward from there.
If you’re interested in applying for national scholarships for student travel and study abroad, look no further than the Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarships, the National Security Education Program (NSEP) David L. Boren Undergraduate Scholarships, and the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships. These prestigious fund pools represent three of the nation’s leading awards, and you will want to pay close attention to their eligibility requirements and application suggestions to give yourself the best shot at receiving money for free travel abroad.
Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarships
Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarships are awarded to students who have completed at least two years of college-level coursework. Scholarships of up to $26,000 can be used to pay for tuition, fees, educational supplies, round-trip transportation, and basic living expenses. Scholarships are awarded to students who demonstrate academic excellence, outstanding leadership skills, a high level of maturity, and a commitment to community service, as well as a passion for history, politics, and culture.
Rotary International is poised to begin offering a new form of financial incentive: global grants. These will be targeted towards students who care deeply about the sustainability and long-term impact of the work they will be doing abroad. These $30,000 grants will be organized into six different areas of interest, dealing mostly with sustainable development, education and health.
Scholarship and grant winners are expected to give regular presentations and participate in Rotary service projects during their study abroad. If you are interested in applying for a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship or a Global Grant, contact your local Rotary club to begin the application process.
National Security Education Program (NSEP) David L. Boren Undergraduate Scholarships
The National Security Education Program David L. Boren Undergraduate Scholarships are awarded to students with a record of academic excellence, foreign language proficiency, and a desire to use international study to advance their careers. Scholarship amounts are based on actual program costs, with the maximum award being $20,000 for a full academic year.
Scholarships come with a requirement that students spend at least one year working in the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, State, or the Intelligence Community after the completion of their study abroad program. This is a perfect opportunity for a student looking for the commitment of a bundled package of study abroad, travel, and future career placement.
Applications for the NSEP David L. Boren Undergraduate Scholarships must be submitted online.
Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships
The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is slightly different from other study abroad scholarships in that recipients must demonstrate both academic achievement and financial need. To be eligible for a scholarship, you must be necessarily low-income and have been awarded a Pell Grant from your college or university, as well as submit an essay that describes how your study abroad program will enhance your educational experience. The maximum award is $5,000, but scholarships vary based on financial need and program costs.
Since the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship doesn’t have a summer cycle, interested students must be completing academic year programs that are at least four weeks long. Multi-country study abroad programs are acceptable only if the student spends at least four weeks in one country.
Detailed application instructions for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship are available on the above program website.
More Ways to Travel
Do not neglect the resources of your local college and university when it comes to searching for travel abroad monies. See what they have to offer in terms of placing and funding, and remember that some study abroad departments will even allow particularly motivated and intentional students to create their own specialized paths of study by partnering with an international university or degree program in which they are interested.
Once you are abroad, be sure to take advantage of all the opportunities offered only to students. Studying abroad may be one of the most fruitful times in your life to go traveling, since with a little work and research, you will find organizations willing to pay for or discount nearly every aspect of your expenses. Many countries offer free or cheap transportation passes, food discounts, and entertainment vouchers specifically for study abroad students, so make sure you check with your host country to see what is available to you.
Travel Scholarships & Financial Resources
Truly, there are no good reasons not to pursue meaningful, and financial restraints should definitely not be one of them. Especially now, with academic and higher education program costs increasing every year, it’s not a bad idea to consider financial aid to ease the load. Enter: Scholarships abroad! It might be overwhelming to sift through all of the options available, but it’s worth the effort, and we are here to help you every step of the way. After all, the more money you save, the more you’ll have to spend on enjoying your wonderful life of travel.
Let’s get started here, but use this directory to zero-in on scholarships abroad that fit the adventure you want to have. We have even more details for…
Let’s dive in. Here are some basic questions to consider before browsing through travel scholarships and other scholarship opportunities:
What Kinds of Travel Scholarships are There?
Just like college degrees and interests differ, so do scholarships abroad types. That means that there’s bound to be something for you, whether you are a studious book nerd of all-star football player. Regardless of particular type, almost all scholarships are merit-based, so you’ll need to stand out and make yourself shine!
- Academic: These scholarships are the most report card-oriented. Grades, GPA’s, standardized test scores, and class ranking are the main factors for academic scholarships.
- Athletics: Athletes can get financial aid because of notable athletic performance. Sport distinctions are usually awarded to football, basketball, baseball, soccer, and volleyball athletes.
- Demographic: Travel scholarships given solely based on ethnicity, gender, or a variety of minority characteristics.
- Destination-Based: Different countries offer different scholarships. Whether you are looking at programs in your home country or abroad, check out your country’s main scholarship and financial aid organization for some great finds! For those doing something overseas, many countries offer scholarships specifically for international students, so keep your eyes peeled.
- Industry: Specific majors, such as languages, business, journalism, and international relations, offer scholarships specific to their fields of study. These can be offered through big businesses, local companies, neighborhood organizations, memorial funds, or government-sponsored associations.
- Need-Based: Scholarships abroad awarded to students that demonstrate financial need. These usually require bank statements and W2’s from family units.
- University: Whether public or private, universities offer travel scholarships linked with their financial aid programs to assist international and local students complete courses and degree programs.
Keep in mind that many of these travel scholarship types overlap, so be sure to explore all of your options thoroughly. The more specific you get, the less candidates there are, and the higher your chances of being awarded are!
How Can I Plan Ahead?
Unfortunately, many scholarships abroad cannot be awarded until you have been accepted into a specific program. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t start doing some extra homework ahead of time. Here are some of the best ways you can plan ahead for your scholarship applications:
- Bring out your best. We all know that travel scholarships abroad are highly competitive. Use this as motivation to broaden your scope of activities and improve your game. Focus on grades, but also get active in extracurricular activities.
- Get involved with the community. Volunteering is not only a positive pastime, but it also stands out on scholarship applications. Whether it’s in local events, mentorship programs, charity drives, or fundraising options, giving enriches. Plus, who knows; you might just meet an organization that’ll sponsor you down the road!
- Start the search early.Whatever type of program you want to do abroad, start researching travel scholarships abroad options at least a couple of semesters before. The application window between getting accepted into a program and applying for financial aid is not very large, so it helps to already have options lined up at this point. That way, all you have to worry about then are the actual applications.
- Stay organized.There’s nothing worse than missing a deadline when applying for scholarships abroad, so grab a calendar and start color-coding your days. This way, as soon as you get accepted, you know where to send applications off first.
- Read eligibility requirements thoroughly.There’s no point in wasting time and writing the year’s best essay if you don’t actually qualify for the scholarship. Read the fine print, and, if you have any questions, contact the scholarship provider.
How Do I Find A Scholarship?
There’s no magic formula that’ll match you with a scholarship that doesn’t require an essay and will pay for your entire program. In fact, the search for a relevant scholarship might just be the hardest part of this entire process.
First, understand academic financial terminology. Scholarship lingo might seem as foreign as an entirely new language, so it helps to get familiar with specific financial aid terms. Once you have a more clear concept of what you are applying for, searches will be easier to narrow down and filter through.
- Online Services. There are many websites that filter for applicable scholarships (Hint: GoAbroad!). Sign up for as many reputable services as you can find (Tip: you should never pay to apply for a scholarship), and be sure to answer all optional questions fully for maximum results.
- Study Abroad & Financial Aid Offices. Since there are usually scholarships available for specific programs or international students, using your university’s resources is not a bad idea. Even if they don’t have the perfect scholarship for you, they can answer any questions you might have and point you in the right direction for helpful resources.
- Nonprofit Associations. Since they place their mission before monetary gain, the benevolent nature of nonprofits might be willing to help you out. Focus on the betterment of the self and community when talking to these guys.
- Local Organizations. Small businesses, especially those that are relevant to the field of study you are interested in, are great possible providers of scholarships. Not only are they not advertised to the entire world, but usually the entire process is more personal and face-to-face (i.e. practice that charming smile and dress up).
- Personal Connections. If you are on good terms with your employers, teachers, or other close relations, don’t hesitate to ask for tips about financial aid. If they cannot sponsor your studies, chances are, they know someone who will be able to help.
Apply to as many scholarships as possible (the more money, the better, no?). Statistically, the chances of winning smaller scholarships are bigger, so it’s not a bad idea to snag up a lot of these and watch the money add up, instead of investing all of your time and energy into a single scholarship.
How Do I Win Travel Scholarships?
Most importantly, stay organized and put your best foot forward. Since many people are applying for scholarships, the chances of being considered if you forgot to include a page of the application or the postmark date is past the deadline are slim.
- Research Scholarship Providers. It is important to always appeal to your audience, and scholarship committees are no different. Invest some time in reading about the founders and mission of an organization. Read sample essays from past winners. It’s always easier to sell yourself if you are aware of what your buyers are looking for.
- Read All of the Instructions. Once, twice, three times. Make sure you include all indicated information, supplementary materials, and understand what directions are asking of you.
- Write a Winning Essay. Consider the essay as an interview; add personality, passions, and a little razzle-dazzle. Make an outline, focus on vivid experiences, stay authentic, remain positive, proofread, and get input from a (grammar-smart) friend.
- Shine Bright. It’s not attractive to come across as bragging, but it’s important to be confident. Gather all of your trophies, acknowledge your strengths (and recognize your weaknesses), and don’t be afraid to talk about your qualifications. If you recognize your potential, others will as well.
- Include a Letter of Recommendation. Some scholarships ask for these, some don’t. Either way, it’s not a bad thing to include. Select a relevant, respected professional to vouch for your accomplishments, make the process as easy as possible for them (remind them of all of your wonderful qualities and winning moments), and follow up with a cute thank you note.
- Keep Trying. If at first you don’t succeed, apply to another scholarship. Don’t get discouraged, and don’t give up. After all, if you’re going to be playing with the big kids now, so you’ll need to stock up on determination and step out of your comfort zone. This is a good place to start.
Scholarships abroad might seem straight-forward, but somehow, they always have the power to intimidate. Now, it’s time to stop avoiding the paperwork, put in some effective research, and invest in postage stamps. While any kind of higher education is worth the price tag, there’s no harm in reducing it as much as possible before packing the bags, loading up the car, and waving good-bye to Mom and Dad. Good luck!