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Studying overseas is a great way to enhance your academic experience while increasing cultural awareness and tolerance. Studying abroad will help you develop a deeper understanding of the world, and will contribute to career marketability, as well as personal growth. Employers seek employees with good communication skills and cross-cultural competence—both of which are fostered through studying abroad. However, whether you are an international student studying in the United States or a US student studying abroad, studying in a country other than your own is expensive. The following are some ways to help you fund your overseas education.

1. Save.

This is one of the most obvious ways to afford an overseas education. If you know that you will soon be studying abroad, keep in mind that every little bit you manage to save will help; try to spend less on unnecessary splurges. Before making a large purchase, ask yourself if you want that purchase more than you want to study abroad. If you are willing to make sacrifices for the sake of your overseas education, every dollar you manage to save will be one step closer to the financial requirements for your education.

2. Ask your relatives.

Overseas education is expensive, but it is also an investment in your future. Parents and other close relatives recognize this, and more often than not, are more than willing to help you out with that investment. Even if they aren’t willing or can’t afford to help, you never know until you ask. There is no harm in asking.

You might also choose to set up a travel fund to save for international educational opportunities. You might write a blog to keep your friends and family up to date, and add a PayPal donation button to make it easy for anyone who wants to give you some financial assistance.

3. Apply for aid through your school.

Another option for funding your overseas education is to apply for federal aid through your school. For US students studying abroad, as long as your US school appears on the Federal School Code list, your student federal loans can be used to pay for non-US schools.

In addition, many US universities offer financial assistance to international students based on merit, rather than financial background. The amount and type of aid offered varies for different universities, departments, and level of study. Assistance is more often provided for graduate studies and less for undergraduate courses. Funds are also more likely to be available in fields like engineering, physical and biological sciences, rather than humanities, social sciences, and management.

To seek financial assistance, you will need to submit your institution’s financial aid application form, which will be provided by your school and administered by the board’s college scholarship service.

4. Scholarships/Grants/Fellowships

Scholarships and grants are the most attractive method of funding your overseas education because they do not need to be paid back. For this reason, they are often referred to as “free money.” The deadlines for scholarships often fall between October and March of the year before the funds will be needed. This means that you should begin your search for scholarships at least a year before you will need the money. Some scholarships, like the Rotary Foundation’s Ambassadorial Scholarship program, offer aid exclusively to students who are studying abroad.

5. Loans.

Another option for students trying to figure out how to fund their overseas education is a study abroad loan. Once you’ve maximized your scholarships, grants and other aid, some students find that they still need help covering their costs. Student loans can help by covering up to the total cost of your education minus any financial aid received. It’s also a good idea to have a cosigner so that you can improve the likelihood of approval and lower your interest rate. To get a study abroad loan, you must be receiving credit at an approved US college or university. Learn more about study abroad loans here.

Post courtesy of Jennifer Frankel.

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