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HESC offers financial aid tips for international study opportunities

(Albany, NY: Dec. 1, 2011) When the travel bug bites, cure it with study abroad to earn academic credit and international experience that looks great on a resume -- plus, you’ll make connections that may last a lifetime and gain fluency in another language.

Most colleges have study abroad or international programs offices where they can match your academic program or interest with almost any country in the world. You can study abroad for a few weeks, a summer or an entire semester.

But, don’t let your finances – or lack of them – keep you from exploring international study opportunities. There are scholarships and financial aid available for travel and study abroad if you know where to look.

Looking for Money

The first stop is to your international programs or study abroad office at school. The counselors can outline the various opportunities and help estimate the cost. Next stop: the financial aid office.

You will need to bring your estimate of your study abroad expenses. These include: tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, air fare, other travel expenses, meals, spending money and insurance. Your federal and state financial aid may cover your academic tuition and fees.

The financial aid office can assess what aid might be available to you to cover your anticipated expenses. You will need to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as early as possible, or amend your current one. New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) may be available for study abroad programs that are an integral part of the curriculum at a New York state college or university.

Uncle Sam May Help

Federal scholarship programs are available for international study as well. Most students have heard of Fulbright Scholarships for graduate students, faculty and professionals, but there are grants available for undergraduate students, too.

The Benjamin A. Gilman Award offers scholarships of up to $5,000 for study abroad to U.S. citizen undergraduate students who currently or will receive a federal Pell Grant. The scholarship is based on both length of study abroad and financial need.

The Boren Awards for International Study provide scholarships of up to $20,000 to U.S. undergraduate students who plan to study in countries not typically represented in college study abroad programs. Scholars are expected to study less commonly taught languages such as Arabic or Korean. The Web site lists eligibility requirements and the qualifying countries and languages. Federal government service is required in exchange for scholarship funding.

Private Funding Resources

Private funds may help pay for a trip abroad, too. Visit the website of the international study organizations listed in the box, or do a web search.

Broaden your cultural experience, explore your options and start packing!

Additional resources:

National Association of Foreign Student Advisors (NAFSA)

Institute of International Education (IIE)

International Education Financial Aid (IEFA)