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The number one thing to remember is to Be Proactive in Applying for Scholarships!
Do not wait for organizations or people to come to you about scholarships. The most successful recipients take the initiative to ask about scholarships available and invest a fair amount of time researching funding opportunities. They also apply for many scholarships to increase their chances, and ask others to help them proofread their scholarship essays.
There are scholarships available from a variety of sources; these range from $500 to $20,000. As you can imagine, some of these scholarships are highly competitive! In general, there are more scholarships available to students going to non-traditional sites, i.e. outside of Europe and Australia. By going off the beaten path, you may be able to find less expensive opportunities with more scholarship money available. In addition, many scholarships or program fee reductions are available for students who choose to stay for an academic year versus a term/semester.
The list of scholarships is available here - but there are more out there. Keep looking!
Research & Apply for Scholarships
Start researching possible scholarships early-at least one term to two years prior to when you plan to go abroad. Most scholarship deadlines are well before your program deadline, sometimes a year or more prior to the actual award year. In most cases, you may apply for the scholarship before you apply for, or have been accepted by, your study abroad program.
Review the scholarship binders and books in the Study Abroad Resource Center. You may also search on-line and check with organizations to which you or your family belong. Remember that you may be able to apply general scholarships toward international experiences, so extend your search beyond study abroad scholarships.
There may be scholarships available for members of your ethnic group, major, gender, or ability. For example, see http://www.latinocollegedollars.org/ if you are a Latino/a - these scholarships are for regular college attendence, but some of them can be used for study abroad.
You may also have success checking with the department or ministry of education in your chosen country, as well as your host institution. There are many governments that offer incentives for international students to come to their country, so try googling "study in [country]" to see what you turn up. You may have to hunt around on these websites to find the scholarship information. Here are a few examples:
Check with your College to see if there are regular academic scholarships that can be used for study abroad. The following are scholarship pages for each College, but be sure to check that you can take them with you overseas!
College of Agricultural Sciences
College of Business
College of Education
College of Engineering
College of Forestry
College of Health and Human Sciences
University Honors College
College of Liberal Arts
College of Science
Also check with your program sponsor about scholarships designated specifically for their program participants. Your host country's local cultural organizations may also offer scholarships. The web sites below may be useful in your search for funding. In addition to listing scholarships, many also provide helpful hints for financing your international opportunity.
You can use other search engines to search for scholarships. This is a time-intensive approach, but may pay off. Many of these scholarships have specific criteria, such as "applicant must be a descendent of Pennsylvannia mine workers planning to study Dutch language in the Netherlands". Finding the right scholarship is tricky, but could really be worth it in the end.
Tips for Writing Scholarship Essays
If a scholarship application requires an essay, answer all questions completely and thoughtfully. It is important to consider the mission and goals of the awarding body when framing your essays. Ask yourself why this organization is giving money away? What are they trying to accomplish? Then, use your essay to explain how your experience abroad will help them accomplish their goals!
Proofread your essay carefully-review spelling, grammar, and structure as well as content-then revise your essay. If the scholarship application allows, ask someone to read your essay and give feedback. You are strongly encouraged to obtain feedback on your essay for scholarships awarded through the Study Abroad Office; use campus resources, such as one of the writing centers or a tutor, to assist you. Save a copy of your essay to use as a template for future essays. Chances are, other scholarships will require a similar essay, and you would only need to make minor revisions to your existing one.