How to Find Study Abroad Scholarships for Any Destination

Written by: Kristyn Pilgrim
Updated: 2/19/20

Study abroad programs offer you a fully immersive experience that you can’t get without traveling. Living in a foreign country can open you up to new life experiences and opportunities that are enriched by living in a different culture instead of just reading about it in books.

Many schools offer study abroad programs with destinations in countries all over the world. However, the cost of travel and living abroad can be off-putting when you also have to consider the cost of tuition, school fees, books, and supplies.

This is where scholarships come in. Your school likely offers scholarships for study abroad programs, often in specific fields of study. Community groups, corporations, membership clubs, and nonprofit organizations also offer these types of scholarships.

Where to Look for Scholarships to Study Abroad

The first thing to do when considering a study abroad program is to check out the program itself. Many of these programs offer grants, scholarships, or fellowship programs that can give you free money to help pay for the trip. If you can get your tuition and school fees covered, you will have extra money to explore the country you are living in and fully immerse yourself into the culture.

Your school and the financial aid office are great resources for helping you explore possible scholarship opportunities. Specific colleges and departments often provide scholarships for certain fields of study, particularly in underrepresented fields.

Scholarships are free money options that you don’t have to pay back. They may require that you demonstrate financial need, academic excellence, specific career goals, or other specialty criteria to be eligible. Check into these options first.

After that, look at local chapters of international groups and community organizations that support certain populations. If you are looking at a study abroad program in Germany, for example, you can look at possible local connections, such as German-American clubs or societies.

Many businesses and corporations that are looking to expand their workforce offer scholarships to students to study abroad in fields like finance, communications, foreign languages, STEM, education, foreign policy, and leadership programs.

Available Study Abroad Scholarships

  • USAC Scholarships: The University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) offers several scholarship opportunities to students enrolled in a USAC Study Abroad Program.
  • Boren Fellowships: This group offers scholarships to students seeking to study abroad in Eurasia, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America.
  • Benjamin A. Gillman International Scholarship: This provides students with financial need the opportunity to study abroad. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs sponsors this scholarship.
  • CEA Scholarships: You can apply for a need-, merit-, or diversity-based scholarship when you apply for a CEA Study Abroad Program.
  • AIFS Scholarships: The American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS) wants to ensure that study abroad opportunities are open to all students. As a result, they offer multiple scholarship opportunities if you are enrolling in an overseas university.
  • Sol Education Abroad Scholarships: Designed to help students improve Spanish language skills, these scholarships are open to students participating in a study abroad and Spanish immersion program in a Spanish-speaking country.
  • Golden Key Scholarship: This group offers members opportunities, often based on merit, to study abroad through scholarship funds.
  • SIT Study Abroad Scholarships: If you are enrolled in a School for International Training (SIT) Study Abroad Program and demonstrate financial need, you can apply for a need-based scholarship.
  • Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program: This summer program gives American university and college students the opportunity to study abroad and learn languages that are considered critical, non-traditional languages. It is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

  • Corinne Jeannine Schillings Foundation Travel Scholarship: This is awarded to Girl Scouts who have earned a Silver or Gold award, and are seeking a study abroad program.
  • Tortuga Backpacks Study Abroad Scholarship: If you are a full-time undergraduate student accepted into a study abroad program through your school, passionate about traveling, and looking to study abroad, you can apply for the $1,000 award.
  • IES Abroad Scholarship: This scholarship provides aid to students enrolled in an IES Abroad Program who demonstrate financial need.
  • Global Experiences (GE) Scholarships: This group offers three different opportunities to students looking to study abroad and widen their horizons in one of 14 global cities.
  • Fund for Education Abroad (FEA) Scholarship: This scholarship provides U.S. students with an opportunity to study abroad and learn about other countries. Students who are underrepresented in study abroad are given preference.

Some scholarships are based on location, and many are offered through foreign governments to attract talented students. Here are examples of location-specific scholarships:

Steps for Applying for Scholarships

  1. Pay attention to deadlines. Each scholarship will have its own set of deadlines. Your school or field of study may have additional dates you need to be aware of, as well.
  2. Follow all directions to apply. Every scholarship is a little different. Many require that you write an essay on a specific prompt, such as why you should be selected or why you want to study abroad. You may also need to answer some short questions or provide a cover letter.
  3. Follow up with your references and submission requirements. Often, scholarship applications will ask for several letters of recommendation, and you will need to ensure these are submitted on time, as well.
  4. Supply all required documentation. A scholarship application may request proof of enrollment, financial records, and transcripts.
  5. Check the status of your application. Many scholarships have online submission access and a portal where you can check on your application.
  6. If you are awarded a scholarship, you likely have to accept the funds and designate where they go.

Scholarships are a great way to help you fund a once-in-a-lifetime college experience. Explore all free money options fully with study abroad scholarships.