If you want to study abroad, you probably already know that it's a great way to experience the world, meet new people, and yes, get an education. Affording it, though, can be tricky. Here's some of our best advice on finding and winning scholarships to help you fund your studies abroad.
The first step on your scholarship journey is getting excited. You'll need to put some time in to see results, and that starts with your own intrinsic drive to succeed. Think about your end goal. Consider that the minimum wage in Ontario is $14 an hour — in that same hour, you could potentially earn hundreds by winning an award like one of the Fleming College Study Abroad Bursaries.
Set Aside Some Time
So you're ready and excited to apply. Great! The next step is to allocate some time for research. Finding scholarships to study abroad can be difficult, and definitely takes time. ScholarshipsCanada.com can help — fill out your profile and the site automatically matches you to awards. Even then, you'll have to put in the work. The time commitment puts some people off — don't be one of them! Find a few hours a week to find and apply for awards.
Look Into Financial Aid
Even though you'll be studying outside of Canada, you may still be eligible for financial aid through your provincial or federal government. The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), for instance, offers a search portal you can use to check if your host institution is registered for financial aid. StudentAid BC offers the same thing, and other loan granting bodies are likely to, as well. If your institution is not on the list, contact them and ask that they apply to be registered. This will take some time, so plan ahead!
Sign Up for ScholarshipsCanada
If you're seeking a searchable database of thousands of awards, look no further! The site's focus is on Canadian schools, but many institutions offer awards for students who want to study abroad or participate in an exchange program, like the John Black Liberal Studies Abroad Award from Vancouver Island University.
ScholarshipsCanada.com is easy to use: just sign up, fill out a profile, and get matched automatically to scholarships and bursaries that match you. If you're studying in the United States, try FastWeb, a similar service with a US focus. If you're considering the European Union or the United Kingdom, try out ScholarshipPortal, an EU-based site with awards for countries around the world.
Read the Requirements Carefully
No matter where you want to study, and where you find scholarship details, be sure you read the eligibility information carefully. Finding and applying for awards is tough enough without adding hours of essay writing for an award you can't win. If the criteria is unclear, or you're unsure whether you qualify, the best thing you can do is contact the scholarship's administrator directly. There's no reason to spend time applying if you can't actually win.
Don't Neglect Smaller Awards
Everyone wants a full-ride scholarship with tuition, flights and accommodation covered. Unfortunately, there aren't many available, and they're likely extremely competitive. Sure, a $10,000 award is more appealing than a $2,500 award, but your competition to win will be much steeper. You'll have a better chance of success if you shoot for the $2,500 award, like the Michael Collins Study Abroad Award from the University of Saskatchewan. So your best strategy is to apply to lots of smaller awards. Apply for the big ones too, but don't stop there. A few smaller prizes can really add up!
Hang in There: Don't Give Up
Persistence is the key to many of life's successes, and winning money to study abroad is no different. Don't feel discouraged if you don't win the first few — or few dozen — awards you apply for. Keep at it, and you're sure to be rewarded for your hard work.
You should also be aware that scholarship deadlines occur throughout the year, not just at the start of a new semester, so check back now and then with your scholarship database of choice to see what's new. You might just find that a great award has suddenly become available.
Searching for scholarships is just one small part of your journey to study abroad, which will be full of excitement and challenges. Make the most of your time — work hard to find the money you need, and make your dream of studying in another country a reality.
We wish you the best of luck. Bon voyage!