Studying abroad can be more expensive than staying home, but returning students often say their time abroad was life-changing and worth every extra penny. Motivated students who plan ahead can be successful in securing additional funding. We offer the following suggestions to help raise additional funds.
Eligibility is need-based and requires verification from USM. Visit USM's office of Student Financial Services to inquire about grants and loans. Apply as soon as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms are available. Banks also offer federally-backed student loans.
Scholarships and grant applications require significant lead time so plan ahead to ensure you don't miss any deadlines! USM study abroad scholarships are another small source of funding.
Parents, grandparents, in-laws, etc., have been known to contribute to a study abroad opportunity. Waive holiday or birthday gifts in exchange for financial gifts. Write creative letters to friends and family asking for financial support in exchange for monthly letters and a dinner or presentation upon return. Personal loans or fundraising parties are other possibilities.
Work hard and save up before going abroad! Some overseas university semesters do not begin until October or March, leaving extra time to continue working and saving.
While some of these ideas may sound strange, they have worked! Ask your friends to help you raise money through painting, yard work or car washing. Your church or synagogue could sponsor a special dinner or raffle with the proceeds going toward your study abroad experience. Try donating services such as cooking classes, quilting, dancing, or computer skills. Create a sign stating your purpose and ask for donations to help offset the cost of your program.
Service Groups, Foundations, and Corporations
Some employers have foundations or are open to proposals for funding. High school alumni associations, professional and business clubs, media (radio, TV and newspapers), sororities and fraternities (local and national), and ethnic and religious organizations may also be a good funding sources. Be specific with how you plan to use the funding (airfare, tuition, a special project for academic credit) and include a photo of yourself for that personal touch. Enthusiasm, creativity and perseverance helps, but don't be afraid of rejection.
Offer something in return in exchange for financial support. Perhaps regular updates from overseas, an article for the local paper, pictures from your trip, or a commitment to helping others participate in a similar experience. There are many directories that list foundations and their funding interests, but it takes time and motivation to identify them and develop a winning proposal.