Have you ever considered volunteering or studying in a foreign land but aren’t able to afford the costs of such a trip much less the stay?
There’s good news! While the availability of such programs are limited and subject to various rules and eligibility requirements you may be able to get a grant, fellowship or scholarship to pursue your volunteer and student interests without being required to pay those finds back.
For example, the daughter of one of the editors on this website got a scholarship that paid all of her costs to do volunteer work abroad in Ethiopia. She went there during the summer break in her junior year of college. The scholarship even paid for her medical booster shots that she had to get before traveling to Africa.
On top of covering all of the costs, it also paid her $1,400 for writing a paper about the volunteer work project. This kind of scholarship was difficult to get and most people don’t win one but it is worth a try. If she had not tried she never would have had the trip of a lifetime.
What’s the Difference Between These Types of Assistance?
- Study Abroad Scholarship: This type of assistance is offered to students who are looking to study abroad and are funded by sources like churches, universities, local business or city organizations. You can find out about these programs by talking to a financial aid officer at your college or university. Search the Internet too. If you’ve been chosen to study abroad but do not have sufficient funds you can also check with the school offering you a chance to attend and see if they have a scholarship program.
- Grants: These are attained through government and university funds or by a non-profit group or a church for this purpose and are meant to help with the expense of travel, food and odging. They may not cover your entire stay or other major costs but are a great aid in affording other things you may need on your trip.
- Fellowships: These are offered on the basis of academic achievement. They’re primarily offered to graduate students but can also be awarded to students in the last two years of undergraduate study. These cover the costs of a summer or semester abroad and are intended to help better understand what research and resources will be most helpful to students learning abroad.
What Do I Need in order to Apply?
- You must necessarily be a U.S. citizen
- You would typically need to be post graduate
- You should be helping teach English or doing research abroad
- You will have to undergo a complete physical and be declared completely fit
- You should know where you want to study
- You will need to talk to and get reference letters from reputable sources who can vouch for you and your reasons for seeking a grant for study abroad.
- An essay or statement of grant purpose which lays out the reasons for your interest in this form of study and what you will do with them.
- A personal statement which tells the reviewer who you are where you came from and where you intend to go in a way that helps them better understand why you feel this trip is right for you.
- A completed copy of the application which is turned in well before the deadline to allow for proper review.
Every grant or scholarship will have a few differences in the way they handle applications. This is an overview that should help to get you started.
Make sure you use references that your school and the regulators of the scholarship or grant approve of and that both your personal statement and essay or statement of grant purpose fit those guidelines as well.
Every application could have differences; study them and make sure that your responses are not too uniform. It is always best to use completely different statements or essays for every application you fill out.