When I first decided to Study Abroad one of the things that was constantly on my mind was: How in the world am I going to be able to afford this? This is definitely a challenge that a lot of people face. My best advice is to do your research and take advantage of every opportunity. There are so many scholarships out there trying to help students Study Abroad and experience the world, you just have to look.
Luckily for me I never had to look too far. Thanks to the Hubbard Center at DePauw, specifically Neal McKinney, I was able to find exactly what I needed. They first notified about the Fund for Education Abroad. I remember applying thinking I was not good enough and that there are problem hundreds of people applying and there were, but they deemed me to be worthy and I cannot be more grateful. I and Roman Magallanes are the first two students at DePauw to receive this scholarship. Although, I was granted this amazing opportunity I was still worried about not being able to pay for DePauw tuition and all the things I would need during my time abroad.
However, my program IFSA-Butler University also provided many opportunities for students to find funding. I applied for the IFSA-Scholarship Fill in the Gap, which matches $1,000 to what a student has to raise. In order to raise that $1,000 I started a GoFundMe page and asked that my friends and family chip in whatever they could. I raised $1,050 thanks to everyone. They also paid for my flight since I applied to the program early. IFSA, truly a blessing.
My search for funds did not stop there. Some would say I was greedy or ambitious, but in all honesty I did not want my mom to struggle once again living paycheck to paycheck because of my education like she always had. I wanted this one semester to be fully funded by me, that being said I still needed funds.
I decided to apply to one of the most competitive Study Abroad scholarships the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. Everyone in my school knew of the scholarship and everyone wanted it. I started working on my application for Gilman almost 2 months prior to the deadline. I edited a thousand times, has maybe 4 drafts of each essay question and had everyone that I knew read it over and over again. I worked so hard and in the end it all paid off. I was awarded the Gilman Scholarship.
Everything I did to receive funding for my Study Abroad experience I did with every fiber of my being. I was determined and that was my greatest power.
Here is some additional advice:
- Do not give up
- GPA does not define you
- Proofread Proofread Proofread
- Do not wait til the last minute to apply to something
- Get as much as help as you need