How to Arrange Your Own Study...   How to Arrange Your Own Study...

How to Arrange Your Own Study Abroad Program (4/5)

29 April, 2009 18:02  EasyExpat EasyExpat

This is the fourth article of a series of 5, explaining how to arrange your own study abroad program.

StarFirst article: Decide Where to Go

StarSecond article: Determine When to Go

StarThird article: Language Problems and Programs

How to Pay for It

The main obstacle to study abroad for many people is the cost. However, there are ways of getting around this. For instance, if you are an American college or graduate student and receive financial aid, you can almost always apply your financial aid from your present institution to the study abroad program you choose.  European students should investigate the Erasmus program. In any case, you will need to contact the financial aid office at your school and make the necessary arrangements. This may require a few extra steps and a somewhat longer period of time, so don't put this task off until the last minute.

It is less likely that you will be able to arrange financial aid directly with the host institution, but not impossible. Some programs do offer scholarships; however, these scholarships are almost always very competitive. The best advice is to prepare as good an application as possible, but don't count on scholarships from the host institution for all or even most of your funding. Volunteer programs may provide a small stipend or free room and board in exchange for your participation.  If you are studying at the graduate school level, you might also consider grants or fellowships such as the Fulbright, although the competition for these grants is also very competitive. In addition, deadlines for grants and scholarships often fall a year in advance, and two years in advance is not out of the question.

Especially for American professionals, if your study abroad program relates to your job, you should inquire about company reimbursement. You may also qualify for a tax deduction. If you are enrolled for college credit during your study abroad program, you may qualify for deferment on your student loans. Participants in volunteer programs such as the Peace Corps, or another qualified nonprofit organization, may be able to obtain a deferment, partial loan cancellation, or both. This is especially true for American students with federally guaranteed loans. Check with your school or loan institution for details. In any event, it is essential to keep good records of your expenses and retain all your receipts.

It may also be possible to work at least part time during your study abroad program. If you are a young adult (generally aged 18 to 30, although the exact limits vary by country), you may qualify for a "holiday visa" which would permit you to work. Young adults who are good with children can also work as au pairs. If you have good English skills , and particularly if you have ESL (English as a Second Language) teaching certification, your skills will be in demand worldwide. If you are a professional or entrepreneur, you may qualify for a "business visa" which allows you to conduct some work while you pursue your study abroad program. Inquire with your host institution, or check the official website of the country you are visiting. .

In some instances, you may not need a work visa at all. For instance, if you are a freelancer who conducts much (or all) of your work through the Internet, you will almost certainly be able to generate income wherever you go, without restriction. All you need is your computer and reliable Internet access, and perhaps a cell phone, although many freelancers use services such as Skype and instant message services to communicate with their clients in real time.

If none of these situations applies to your case, any you would like to work during your study abroad program, The Big Guide to Living and Working and Overseas and CIEE (Council for International Educational Exchange) are excellent sources for information. If all else fails, for shorter programs, it may be feasible to set aside savings to pay expenses out of pocket. In any event, you may have to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds (or other means to support yourself) to cover your expenses.

The links below are for scholarships and other aid available for study abroad programs. More information can be found on the Internet.

Scholarships and Financial Aid Scholarship Links

Study Abroad Financial Aid and Grants

CEA Global Education Solutions

Next Steps

All of the major tasks are done!  There are only a few loose ends left, which will be covered in the next article, which is the last of the series.

Audrey Henderson
Freelance writer based in Chicago


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