When you’re in college, you have opportunities available to you that might otherwise be impossible. Specifically, you can find many study abroad and volunteer abroad programs that enable you to travel to remote and exotic locations. But on a college student’s budget, how can you afford to participate in a study abroad or volunteer abroad program? Read on to find out.
Budgeting for your trip
Before you start worrying about how to fund your trip, you’ll need to calculate your costs. Even if a program cost is $1,000, it may include only your airfare and accommodations. If meals are not included in the overall cost, ask the program administrator what you can expect to pay for food and drink.
You should also budget for student volunteer insurance or study abroad insurance, miscellaneous fees (like transportation costs and gratuity) and pre-paid calling cards.
The Institute of International Education maintains a database of resources that can pay for all or part of your study abroad experience. You can search by your field of study, a region or country, a keyword or the specific name of a scholarship. The database also shows results for fellowships, grants and paid internships.
Sean Lennon, managing director and co-founder of The Education Abroad Network told FOX Business that students should think creatively about how to find funding. If the language of a scholarship doesn’t specifically say the funds are to be used for local or domestic study, a student may be able to use that scholarship for study abroad.
Kickstart your plans
There’s no shame in asking friends and family to help you pay for a volunteer trip. You can start a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter, which pays you the funds only if you reach your declared contribution goal.
You can also try FundMyTravel, which pays you the money you raise, even if you don’t meet your declared goal. The site also has a “campaign calculator,” to help you determine exactly how much money you’ll need for your time abroad.
Look for community resources
Don’t forget to look for funding sources in your own community. That could be churches, businesses, clubs, or just a wealthy and friendly neighbor. Arizona State University has put together a handy packet that shows an example letter for students who are writing to ask community members for financial support.
You may be able to arrange a mutually beneficial agreement, such as offering to make a presentation for a group, in exchange for travel assistance, or to write an article for a magazine or newspaper that helps finance your trip.
Save now, go later
Start looking for the right study abroad or volunteer abroad opportunity as a freshman, and plan to attend in a year or two. Then you can ask friends and family to contribute to your fundraising campaign, instead of buying you gifts for holidays. Think creatively about how to fund your trip, and you’ll be surprised at how much money you can raise.