25 Jun How to Afford Your Kid’s Study Abroad
If you think saving for your kid’s college education is all that you need to plan for, you may want to think again. Your child could have the opportunity to study abroad during school, and you should make sure that you’re prepared for that possibility.
Studying abroad is an invaluable opportunity that affords students so much more than traditional book learning by helping students build skills that can’t be found in any textbook. It can lead to personal growth, communication building, an increase in world awareness, a deeper understanding of global issues, more compassion, and the drive to make a difference.
All of this is part of becoming a “grown-up,” and travel is known to enhance all of it. About 1.5% of students enrolled in U.S. colleges participate in study abroad programs. Why is this percentage so low? Our guess is that financing is what holds many students back. So how can you make sure to have enough money on hand to afford to give your child this one-of-a-kind experience?
Apply for Federal Aid
Before you do anything else, fill out and submit a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form to apply for federal student aid. This is the first step in applying for federal grants and loans. The Federal Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) are grants that may be available to students who wish to travel abroad. The Pell Grant is need-based and available only to undergraduates. The FSEOG is available to undergraduates with exceptional financial need.
Apply for Scholarships
There is so much money out there for students, that some of it actually goes unused from time to time. Scoring a study abroad scholarship might sound like a long shot to some people, but there’s only one absolute fact: you definitely won’t get one if you don’t try! There are lots of organizations that focus on funding study abroad experiences, for example, the American Institute for Foreign Studies and the Fund for Education Abroad.
Apply for Federal Loans
Delving deeper into student loan debt might not sound like the greatest idea at first, but it’s worth it. Students who study abroad gain world experience, personal development, and marketable professional skills. There are several federal loans students may apply for to fund their study abroad. These are direct subsidized loans for undergrads with financial need; direct unsubsidized loans for graduates, professionals, and undergrads who don’t have financial need; direct PLUS loans for graduates, professionals, and parents of dependent undergrads; and direct consolidation loans for those who qualify for multiple federal student loans.
Consult the Financial Aid Office
The financial aid office at your student’s school will have a wealth of knowledge on how to afford study abroad. They’ll have more info on things like state aid, institutional aid, third-party scholarships, and even exchange programs.
People crowdsource funds for everything from a new innovation to medical bills. Why not use crowdfunding to pay for a study abroad opportunity? Websites like FundMyTravel, GoFundMe, allow users to create a campaign and share through social media and email.
All the scholarships and grants available to students may not be enough to round out the money you need to provide opportunities for your college-aged child. You’ll want to start planning for the eventualities early—as in, when you start saving for college and not when your child is already enrolled.
Unfortunately, there’s no universal cost sheet for studying abroad. Every program has its own requirements and fees, and every region of the globe will require different monetary amounts for typical expenses. To get a rough estimate, you’ll need to calculate tuition, college fees, the program fee, travel expenses, personal expenses, international health insurance, and probably a fair amount of pocket money so your student can have a little fun while soaking up all of that knowledge.
You don’t have to have loads of money in the bank to fund your kid’s study abroad, but having a cushion for back-up, just in case your other options don’t work out, is never a bad idea. Use these tips to help with financial planning and give your student this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If we can help get you on the right path, give us a call.