Zina Kumok Image Written By: Zina Kumok | Edited By: Kevin Ladd | Updated: May 14, 2024

Study Abroad Scholarships

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Studying abroad is one of the best things you can do as a college student, but it’s also one of the most expensive. In 2023, the average cost of a semester abroad was about $16,000 - about the average cost of attendance at a public university. Yikes.

Continue reading the article below the scholarship list.

25 Study Abroad Scholarships with Approaching Deadlines

If you’re dying to go abroad but can’t afford the out-of-pocket expenses, there are other ways to pay for your trip. Here’s how you can get a study abroad scholarship to cover your fees.

What is a study abroad scholarship?

Just like it sounds, a study abroad scholarship is used to pay for expenses relating to studying out of the country. These can include:

The exact parameters of a study abroad scholarship depend on the provider. Some may only cover the tuition-related aspect, while others will cover all related costs.

Requirements for Study Abroad Scholarships

The eligibility requirements for study abroad scholarships can vary. Some may require that you have achieved a certain level of language proficiency, be in a certain grade level, have a particular major, be part of a minority group or have demonstrated financial need.

Requirements can be relatively strict or fairly loose. For example, the Colegrave Seabrook Foundation Scholarship requires that students have a 2.0 GPA or higher to qualify. This is one of the lowest GPAs you can have and still qualify for a study abroad scholarship.

Are there federal or state study abroad scholarships?

While the Department of Education does not provide specific scholarships or grants for studying abroad, the State Department does keep a list of scholarship opportunities.

The requirement for a study abroad scholarship depends on the specific provider. For example, they may have limits on which countries you can study in or which degree programs are eligible.

Where can I find study abroad scholarships?

The first step is to find scholarships through your college and your specific department. For example, if you're studying graphic design and want to study abroad in Spain, ask your academic advisor if they know of any scholarships you may qualify for based on your design background or your chosen country.

You should also look at the Spanish department and see if they offer any specific awards. Make sure to contact the financial aid department because they may have even more suggestions. You can also reach out to specific professors.

If you're a member of any college groups, see if they have special funding for scholarships. For example, the Phi Kappa Phi academic society offers a $1,000 scholarship to its members who are studying abroad.

Talk to club sponsors or other adults and ask about potential awards you may qualify for. Remember, studying abroad is a costly experience so you may have to hustle to pay your way.

Next, start looking for external awards. There are specific study-abroad scholarships that are designed to help students broaden their horizons.

Search for scholarships for specific countries or languages. For example, if you’re studying abroad in Austria, look for German language study abroad scholarships.

Can I use the Pell Grant to pay for studying abroad?

If you are already eligible for the Pell Grant, you can use those funds for expenses associated with studying abroad. However, there may be limits on what you can use the Pell Grant money for. For example, you may not be able to pay for the plane trip with your Pell Grant funds.

The amount of the Pell Grant will be the same for the summer semester as it is for the fall or spring semester. You will not receive a higher amount just for studying abroad.

The Pell Grant is only given for a maximum of 12 semesters or six academic years. If you end up attending school longer than 12 semesters, you will run out of Pell Grant funding.

Can I use student loans to pay for studying abroad?

If you qualify for student loans, you may be able to use those funds to pay for expenses related to studying abroad.

However, there may be limits on what you are allowed to use student loan funds for. If you are taking classes through the university, you can use your student loans to cover tuition. But you usually cannot use student loans to pay for transportation related to getting abroad in the first place.

Another major caveat is that most federal student loans have annual limits. If you’ve already reached the annual limit by paying for your fall and spring semesters, then you won’t have enough funds to cover your summer costs. For the 2023-24 school year, the annual limit for a federal student loan for an undergraduate student is between $5,500 and $12,500.

Also, some schools will count your summer semester as the beginning of the next academic year. If you use your student loans to pay for summer classes, you may run out of money for your fall or spring semester. Make sure to talk to a financial aid counselor to figure out how using your student loans for studying abroad will impact your future semesters.

If your parents are willing, they can take out a federal Parent PLUS loan to pay for your study abroad expenses. Unlike other types of federal student loans, these loans will remain in their name, not yours. These loans will be your parent’s responsibility to pay off, even if you promise to take over payments after you graduate.

The annual limit of a Parent PLUS loan is the annual cost of attendance minus any other financial aid. This means that your parents can qualify for a higher limit than you can.

Unlike other federal loans, Parent PLUS loans will come with a credit check. If your parents have a credit report with multiple red flags, they may be denied. In that case, your best option may be a private student loan.

Can I take out private student loans for studying abroad?

If your parents do not want to take federal student loans and you have maxed out all your other financial aid options, you may resort to private student loans.

To take out a private student loan for studying abroad, you’ll likely need a cosigner, especially if you’re an undergraduate student. A cosigner is an adult who must take on your student loans if you default. Private student loans have higher interest rates than federal loans, so try not to borrow more than you absolutely need.

Can I get a study abroad scholarship as a graduate student?

Graduate students still receive opportunities to study abroad and can find various funding options, including scholarships. The process is similar to applying for a study abroad scholarship as an undergraduate student.

Start by applying for awards through your school and make sure to explore all possible avenues. If you’re conducting graduate research, you may have more scholarship or grant opportunities. For example, the Fulbright Program is one of the biggest scholarship opportunities available to graduate students.

When should I apply for study abroad scholarships?

You can apply for a study abroad scholarship before you’re accepted into a program, as long as the scholarship doesn’t require you already have a spot. In fact, it’s usually best to apply for scholarships months beforehand just in case you don’t get enough funding and can’t afford to attend.

Start applying for scholarships as soon as possible. If you don’t end up studying abroad and the scholarship maintains that you can only use the funds for international studies, you may have to give up the scholarship.

How can I find study abroad scholarships?

Your school may have a department or office for overseas studies, depending on how big your school is. They may have a comprehensive list of scholarships. But don’t forget to ask other departments or offices if they have their own scholarships you may be eligible for.

In some cases, you may qualify for a scholarship that isn’t specifically designated for studying abroad, but still covers those expenses.

Study Abroad Scholarship FAQs

Is there a need-based component to scholarships for studying abroad?

While there are many study abroad scholarships that don’t take your finances into account, there are others that require that you have demonstrated financial need to qualify. You may have to provide your or your parent’s tax returns or W2s to prove your eligibility.

For example, the Gilman Scholarship requires that you be a Pell Grant recipient to qualify. However, there are plenty of other scholarships that don't have a need component.

Does it matter where I study abroad?

Where you choose to study abroad can have an impact on what kinds of scholarships you qualify for.

In some cases, studying abroad in a less common locale can make your application stand out. And if there are country or language-specific awards, there may be less competition for those scholarships.

For example, the Boren Scholarship, which comes with a $25,000 award, is only available to students who are studying unique languages such as:

Even if you’re studying Spanish in Spain, you can still find plenty of scholarships. Just make sure to start the process early, read through all the requirements and put together the best possible application.

Can I get a scholarship if I’m also interning abroad?

If your program includes an internship aspect, you may find specific scholarships that you’re eligible for. But you are still eligible for regular study abroad scholarships. Just make sure that you don’t apply for any scholarships that prohibit you from interning.

How can I stand out in my scholarship application?

Any time you’re applying for a scholarship, you want to meet all of the requirements. Go through each requirement and double-check that you qualify for the award.

Next, work on refining your essay and recommendation letters. These are your best opportunities to stand out from the herd. Make sure you explain what you hope to learn and experience when you’re abroad. You’re not just there to party in another country - you want to further your education and language skills with a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

How much is a study abroad scholarship worth?

The average amount of a study abroad scholarship seems to be between $1,000 and $2,000. Considering that a typical study abroad experience costs about $16,000, you’ll need to win several scholarships to cover the full total.

The exact amount will vary based on the scholarship provider.

Can I get a study abroad scholarship if I’ve already studied abroad?

While some college students never get the chance to travel internationally, others are lucky to study abroad more than once. If you’ve already studied abroad, you may still be eligible for a study abroad scholarship.

However, the exact requirements and stipulations will vary depending on the provider. Some may limit their awards to only students who have not yet studied abroad. Make sure to read through the rules to understand if you can still apply.

Can I receive a study abroad scholarship if I’m only going abroad for a short period of time?

While most study abroad opportunities last a few months, others are much shorter. Don't worry, you may still find scholarships.

For example, the DAAD German Studies Research Grant is available to students doing a one or two-month research project in Germany.

Can I get a study abroad scholarship if I’m going for a full academic year?

While most students go abroad for a semester or a few weeks, some students devote a full school year. This can be especially helpful if you’re majoring or minoring in a language and want the full immersive experience.

This can also be much more expensive. Fortunately, there are scholarships just for students who are going away for a complete year. Again, start with your school and ask if they have awards only for full-year study abroad students.