Home Customized Faculty-Led Let’s Talk Money: Funding Study Abroad

Let’s Talk Money: Funding Study Abroad

by AIFS Study Abroad
Lets Talk Money: Funding Study Abroad I Customized Faculty Led

Being​ ​a​ ​community​ ​college​ ​student​ ​has​ ​its​ ​perks.​ ​Comparable​ ​to​ ​four​ ​year​ ​universities,​ ​the community​ ​college​ ​system​ ​is​ ​a​ ​huge​ ​bargain.​ ​However,​ ​because​ ​it​ ​is​ ​only​ ​a​ ​two-year​ ​institution, students​ ​do​ ​not​ ​have​ ​as​ ​many​ ​study​ ​abroad​ ​programs​ ​as​ ​a​ ​four​ ​year​ ​university.​ I​ ​had​ ​one​ ​goal​ ​when graduating​ ​high​ ​school​ ​and​ ​that​ ​was​ ​to​ ​study​ ​abroad.​ ​Seeing​ ​how​ ​empowered​ ​friends​ ​and family​ ​were​ ​after​ ​they​ ​came​ ​back​ ​from​ ​world​ ​travels​ ​made​ ​me​ ​eager​ ​to​ ​find​ ​my​ ​identity​ ​in​ ​the same​ ​way.

​As​ ​a​ ​Latina​ ​who​ ​is​ ​low​ ​income​ ​and​ ​a​ ​first​ ​generation​ ​college​ ​student,​ ​I​ ​knew​ ​that studying​ ​abroad​ ​was​ ​going​ ​to​ ​have​ ​its​ ​challenges.​ ​I​ ​registered​ ​for​ ​two​ ​programs​ ​before​ ​I​ ​finally enrolled​ ​in​ ​a​ ​program​ ​for​ ​London​ ​Fall​ ​2017.​ ​In​ ​many​ ​senses​ ​I​ ​felt​ ​like​ ​this​ ​program​ ​was specifically​ ​made​ ​for​ ​me.​ ​I​ ​would​ ​be​ ​taking​ ​all​ ​the​ ​classes​ ​I​ ​needed​ ​to​ ​transfer​ ​including​ ​some major​ ​course​ ​work.

Registering​ ​and​ ​enrolling​ ​for​ ​study​ ​abroad​ ​programs​ ​is​ ​the​ ​easiest​ ​part,​ ​funding​ ​your​ ​trip​ ​is where​ ​it​ ​gets​ ​a​ ​bit​ ​tricky.​ ​As​ ​students,​ ​our​ ​focus​ ​is​ ​on​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​pass​ ​that​ ​one​ ​math​ ​class​ ​that gives​ ​us​ ​equation​ ​nightmares​,​​ ​so,​ ​talking​ ​about​ ​money​ ​can​ ​be​ ​stressful.​ ​Arranging​ ​your​ ​funding situation​ ​is​ ​really​ ​important,​ ​trust​ ​me​ ​I​ ​learned​ ​the​ ​hard​ ​way.​ ​Here​ ​are​ ​5​ ​steps​ ​that​ ​I​ ​took​ ​to​ ​fund my​ ​program.

1.Financial​ ​Aid

Firstly, check​ ​if​ ​you​ ​qualify​ ​for​ ​financial​ ​aid and make​ ​sure​ ​to​ ​submit​ ​your​ ​FAFSA application.​ ​There​ ​is​ ​no​ ​fee​ ​if​ ​you​ ​don’t​ ​qualify​ ​and​ ​the​ ​only​ ​way​ ​to​ ​confirm​ ​is​ ​to​ ​apply.​ ​If​ ​you​ ​do qualify then take​ ​advantage​ ​of​ ​the​ ​free​ ​grants​ as this will help​ ​fund​ ​your​ ​trip.​ ​However, don’t worry if you don’t qualify – there are still plenty of opportunities.

2.​ ​Scholarships

Yes,​ ​some​ ​scholarships​ ​can​ ​be​ ​stressful. However, you might be more successful than you thought. For example, just try​ ​sacrificing​ ​at​ ​least​ ​one​ ​hour​ ​of​ ​Netflix​ ​a​ ​day​ ​to work​ ​on​ ​scholarships!​ ​If​ ​you’re​ ​apart​ ​of​ ​specific programs,​ ​ask​ ​them​ ​about​ ​special​ ​scholarships​ ​that​ ​they​ ​offer.​ ​ You can also apply​ ​for​ ​on​ ​campus scholarships. Rejection​ ​is​ ​scary​ ​but​ ​you​ ​never​ ​know​ ​if​ ​you​ ​don’t​ ​try!​ ​I won an $1000 dollar scholarship the first time I applied!​ ​I​ ​am also​ ​part​ ​of​ ​an​ ​off​ ​campus​ ​program​ ​that​ ​awards​ ​need​ ​based​ ​scholarships​. There is no essay necessary! I just met with my mentors and communicated my situation. Remember, scholarships are free money that you never have to pay back!

3.​ ​Working, working, working

​Yes,​ ​being​ ​a​ ​working​ ​student​ ​is​ ​hard​. However, it is ​completely​ ​worth​ ​it.​ ​For example, try and find​ ​jobs​ ​on​ ​campus​ ​that are​ ​flexible​ ​with​ ​your​ ​schedule.​ ​Not​ ​only​ ​do​ ​you​ ​get​ ​money​ ​from​ ​working​ ​but​ ​you​ ​also​ ​get​ ​to​ ​add experience​ ​​ ​on​ ​your​ ​resume.​ ​If​ ​working​ ​during​ ​school​ ​is​ ​not​ ​an​ ​option,​ ​think​ ​about​ ​working​ ​for Summer​ ​or​ ​Winter​ ​when​ ​you​ ​are​ ​taking​ ​less​ ​classes.​ ​There​ ​are​ ​also​ ​many​ ​seasonal​ ​jobs.

4.​ ​Fundraisers/​ ​Donations

People​ ​want​ ​you​ ​to​ ​succeed.​ ​The​ ​director​ ​at​ ​my​ ​local​ ​art​ ​gallery​ ​offered​ ​to​ ​open​ ​her​ ​doors​ ​for me​ ​to​ ​host​ ​a​ ​fundraiser.​ ​In​ ​the​ ​middle​ ​of​ ​finals​ ​week,​ ​working​ ​two​ ​jobs,​ ​I​ ​(along​ ​with​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​help from​ ​family)​ ​planned​ ​a​ ​fundraiser.​ ​It​ ​was​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​most​ ​stressful​ ​weeks​ ​of​ ​my​ ​life,​ ​but completely​ ​worth​ ​it.​ ​The​ ​fundraiser​ ​was​ ​a​ ​way​ ​to​ ​not​ ​only​ ​get​ ​my​ ​family​ ​and​ ​friends​ ​together​ ​to say​ ​goodbye,​ ​but​ ​to​ ​also​ ​make​ ​some​ ​money.​ ​I​ ​invited​ ​everyone​ ​from​ ​my​ ​aunt​ ​to​ ​the​ ​mayor​ ​of my​ ​city.​ ​Those​ ​who​ ​couldn’t​ ​attend,​ ​generously​ ​donated.​ ​I​ ​sold​ ​tickets​ ​for​ ​food​ ​and​ ​raffle​ ​prizes. I​ ​repeat,​ ​people​ ​want​ ​you​ ​to​ ​succeed.​ ​

Throughout​ ​my​ ​fundraiser,​ ​strangers​ ​would​ ​walk​ ​in​ ​(it​ ​was a​ ​public​ ​art​ ​gallery)​ ​and​ ​ask​ ​me​ ​what​ ​event​ ​was​ ​going​ ​on.​ ​I​ ​would​ ​tell​ ​my​ ​story​ ​or​ ​give​ ​my “elevator​ ​speech”​ ​and​ ​they​ ​would​ ​donate.​ ​My​ ​community​ ​was​ ​a​ ​large​ ​part​ ​of​ ​my​ ​success. Neighbors​ ​I​ ​didn’t​ ​know,​ ​classmates,​ ​high​ ​school​ ​guidance​ ​counselors​ ​all​ ​donated​ ​as​ ​much​ ​as they​ ​could.​ ​After​ ​10​ ​hours​ ​(from​ ​setup​ ​to​ ​cleanup)​ ​I​ ​went​ ​home​ ​with​ ​$1,000​ ​in​ ​my​ ​pocket.​ ​Bake sales​ ​are​ ​also​ ​very​ ​popular.​ ​In​ ​one​ ​week,​ ​I​ ​made​ ​about​ ​$500​ ​and​ ​in​ ​a​ ​month​ ​about​ ​$2,000. Third​ ​party​ ​crowd​ ​funding​ ​sites​ ​like​ ​GoFundMe​ ​and​ ​Venmo​ ​are​ ​also​ ​great​ ​ways​ ​to​ ​ask​ ​for donations​ ​from​ ​family​ ​and​ ​friends.

5.​ ​The​ ​big​ ​L​ ​word

Not​ ​love,​ ​LOANS.​ ​Don’t​ ​be​ ​afraid​ ​of​ ​taking​ ​out​ ​loans.​ ​Look​ ​at​ ​all​ ​of​ ​your​ ​loan​ ​options​ ​and​ ​see which​ ​one​ ​is​ ​the​ ​best​ ​for​ ​you.​ ​Seek​ ​help​ ​from​ ​the​ ​financial​ ​aid​ ​department​ ​to​ ​talk​ ​about subsidized​ ​and​ ​unsubsidized​ ​loans.​ ​When​ ​I​ ​took​ ​out​ ​loans,​ ​I​ ​saw​ ​it​ ​as​ ​an​ ​investment​ ​in​ ​my education​ ​and​ ​career.​ ​From​ ​speaking​ ​with​ ​other​ ​former​ ​study​ ​abroad​ ​participants​ ​I​ ​realized​ ​that taking​ ​loans​ ​is​ ​very​ ​common​ ​and​ ​helped​ ​them​ ​greatly.

These​ ​were​ ​the​ ​options​ ​that​ ​I​ ​took​ ​to​ ​make​ ​my​ ​dream​ ​of​ ​studying​ ​abroad​ ​a​ ​reality.​ ​Family, friends,​ ​coworkers,​ ​and​ ​even​ ​strangers​ ​want​ ​you​ ​to​ ​succeed.​ ​They​ ​will​ ​invest​ ​in​ ​you​ ​if​ ​they believe​ ​in​ ​your​ ​dreams.​ ​Studying​ ​abroad​ ​is​ ​affordable​ ​for​ ​everyone​ ​if​ ​you​ ​are​ ​willing​ ​to​ ​put​ ​in​ ​the work.

 

Elizabeth Soto is a Student Ambassador and Student Blogger studying with the Southern Californian Foothills Consortium this Fall semester in London. 

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