These Programs Will Help You Pay For Study Abroad

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New initiatives in the White House aim to push the importance of studying abroad and these programs may help you pay for study abroad. 

When I was a student at the University of Arizona, I desperately wanted to study abroad in New Zealand, but I couldn’t afford it. My family weren’t big travelers, and I didn’t really have a lot of support in making my case as to why they should spend an extra 10k so that I can study elsewhere. So, I didn’t start traveling until I was 22, after graduating in 2008. Where did I go? Immediately to New Zealand, of course (where I ended up living for a year!).

Needless to say, my time abroad changed my career path, and my life.

Four years later, I worked with Semester at Sea as their communications coordinator on their Fall 12 voyage, and I got to see first-hand the power of studying abroad. To say it the students were transformed by it would be an understatement.

Students that I met as they embarked on the ship, disembarked differently. They were more humble, more aware, more excited to enter the working world and try to make a difference. Some of them came up with business ideas while on the ship. Others found new career opportunities.

We here at Go! Girl Guides believe in the power of travel, and studying abroad is one of many ways to get out there and see the world. We applaud the White House for supporting and promoting travel, and we’re going to do our part to help as well. Because the cold truth is:

Over 50% of students enter university expecting to study abroad, but only 10% do.

That means that of the 1.5 million students in higher education, only 1.5% study abroad. Those numbers are too low. We’re committed to helping students seek study abroad opportunities, and you should too, by using the hashtag #StudyAbroadBecause.

Interested in studying abroad? Here are some programs that can help make it financially possible:

National Security Language Initiative for Youth and Critical Language Scholarship
These programs offer U.S. high school and college students fully-funded intensive summer language institutes overseas in a number of critical foreign languages.  Through these programs, students gain acquisition of valuable linguistic skills, while also imparting cultural knowledge and encouraging the development of networks.

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program
This program targets populations traditionally underrepresented in study abroad by offering scholarships for academic studies or career-oriented internships abroad to U.S. undergraduate students who receive Pell grants. The Gilman program breaks those troubling diversity barriers I mentioned earlier with 56 percent of Gilman Scholars representing ethnic minority groups and almost 40 percent the first in their families to go to college. Over 70 percent of Gilman Scholars studied outside of Western Europe and an equal number studied a language, often a critical language, during their program. If you have received a Pell Grant, this is a great option.

Fulbright U.S. Student Program
This program is sending a record number of American students overseas this coming year.  These recent college graduates, graduate students, and early career professionals will conduct research in large cities and small villages across the globe, engaging with local citizens and becoming part of the fabric of their overseas community, while also gaining important linguistic and cultural skills. The Fulbright Program continues to innovate and find new ways to engage talented, highly motivated Americans early in their careers. The new Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship will allow fellows to research and share narratives on globally significant issues through new media platforms, hopefully encouraging the next generation of student travelers.

U.S. study abroad office
The White House just announced the addition of a study abroad office, which will manage some of their premier study abroad programs and advocate alongside the broader community for the benefits of study abroad, to students, parents, faculty and administrators at colleges and universities, private sector representatives, and many others. They will also partner with the Institute of International Education and CollegeWeekLive to launch the first ever Virtual U.S. Study Abroad Fair that will be taking place on February 25th on-line and everywhere.

Have you studied abroad? Want to add your voice to the conversation or help promote studying abroad? Use the hashtag #StudyAbroadBecause and join us!

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About Author

Kelly Lewis is the founder of Go! Girl Guides, the Women's Travel Fest and Damesly. She's an optimist, an adventurer, an author and works to help women travel the world.

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