I will be concluding my three-part series on study abroad tips with a discussion on how to approach funding your time abroad. By now you’ve probably figured out where and when you want to go, but how to pay for all of this may still seem like some mysterious gray area.
Fortunately, as long as your program choice is less expensive than Macalester tuition, Macalester will cover your program fee. However, depending on the specifics of your program, some items such as room and/or board may not be included in your fee and thus, you will need to pay these fees to your program. You should also consider what other costs you might accrue such as visas, flights, passports, souvenirs and any extra travel you may want to do. These outside costs could add up fast depending on where you are going and what kind of experience you would like to have.
In order to not become too overwhelmed, it is perhaps best to start with investigating how expensive it is to live in and travel around the country or area of the world that you are going to. Some countries are more expensive than others—for example, staying in countries like Denmark or Australia will cost you much more in living expenses than if you chose to go somewhere with a cheaper cost of living such as India or Peru. A helpful website I have used that allows you to compare the costs of living in any two countries is: http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_countries.jsp . You can even narrow down your selection to display the cost of living in specific cities in each country. This may help you gain a good understanding of what price levels you could expect in your host country compared to other places that you are more familiar with.
Once you have an estimate of how much money you might spend while studying away, you may decide that you need to look into different ways of funding your experience. Depending on where you go and what kind of free time you may have during your studies, one option is to get a job in your host country. While this option might not sound that appealing, it is a good opportunity to earn some spare cash for your travels. Keep in mind that other countries will have different minimum wages and exchange rates than what you are used to, so what you can make from working abroad could be very different from what you’d earn at home. Your study away program or university would most likely have more information on the types of documentation you would need if you do want to get a job in your host country.
Additionally, there are many different scholarships that you can apply for to help ease the financial burden of studying abroad. The Macalester International Center webpage features a great assortment of some of these scholarships. One scholarship in particular that I would like to highlight is the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, which is a need-based scholarship sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. It is available to U.S. citizens who receive a Pell Grant as part of their financial aid package. The selection committee favors students studying abroad in non-traditional countries outside of Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand and awards an average of $4,000 to each recipient. However, you shouldn’t be discouraged from applying if you are going to study in one of those countries. I myself studied abroad in Sydney, Australia and received a $4,000 Gilman Scholarship to help finance my time there. It never hurts to apply as long as you meet the minimum citizenship and financial requirements.
Finally, your specific study away program may have additional scholarship opportunities available. For example, I know that the Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA) awards scholarships to different kinds of bloggers, including first generation students and video bloggers. If blogging is something you enjoy, an opportunity like this would be a great way to share your travels with family and friends while getting paid at the same time.
In conclusion, there are many different ways to finance your time abroad and it could be well worth any time and effort spent applying to these opportunities if you receive a scholarship. It is never too early to start looking for scholarship opportunities if you know that you would like or need a bit more financial security when you are abroad. I hope that this article helped you start to think about important financial matters during your future adventures. Good luck and have fun during your time abroad!