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Freshman 101: How To Study Abroad On A Budget

Studying abroad can be one of the best decisions you make during your time at Penn State, but the process isn’t always easy on your wallet. Luckily, the university offers an assortment of scholarship and funding options for students — here’s a listing of just a few of those opportunities, as well as some tips on how to effectively fund your study abroad trip on a college budget.

Education Abroad Office Scholarships

The Education Abroad Office offers scholarships for students who seek financial help due to specific circumstances — these cover everything from need-based funding to scholarships for students with disabilities or who are members of an ethnic minority group. Click here to see if any of these options might be the right one for you.

Scholarships Through Your Academic College

Penn State offers an assortment of scholarships through the university’s specific academic colleges. For example, students in the College of Education can apply for the Erma M. Hefferan scholarship. Even if you think you have a specific program in mind, checking out the listings for your area of study may help you narrow down your program choices more effectively — click here to see the list of study abroad scholarships available by college.

Commonwealth Campus Scholarships

You don’t have to be a student at University Park to study abroad through the university’s major programs, as well as receive scholarships to help fund the trip. The Harrisburg and Behrend campuses offer scholarships directly through the university’s online database.

Additional Tips And Tricks 

  • Explore every option you have. It’s easy to pick the first trip that catches your eye, and it’s tempting to choose the program you know your friends will select for their semester abroad. However, it’s important to make sure you’ve done your homework before you begin the application process — it takes a bit of extra time, but some programs may offer scholarships or amenities you didn’t know existed until you checked.
  • Take advantage of university databases when planning out how much you’re willing to spend on your trip. Penn State offers budget estimates for various programs — you can learn more about the financial information for specific trips here.
  • Look for part-time work. A lot of college kids think it’s impossible to work a job on top of academics, extracurriculars, and other commitments. But many places within the State College community alone accommodate students and their busy schedules — search for job postings around town, or network through a friend who already has a job. Even working two or three nights per week will help you effectively save for the trip ahead.
  • Keep an eye on your spending. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to a nice meal or a new shirt, but every penny counts when you’re stuck on a college budget. A bit of saving goes a long way when you’re planning out an entire semester.
  • Watch out for deadlines. Generally, the longer you wait to apply, the more opportunities will begin to slip by before you know it. If you have any questions about when you need to apply for a specific program or scholarship, contact your academic advisor to get a starting point.
  • There are always more options available than you think. For example, your scholarship doesn’t have to come directly from a Penn State-related program. Study abroad providers, exchange partners, and various external sources partner with the university to enroll students in national programs such as the Arcadia University experience and the Butex program.

About the Author

Claire Fountas

Claire Fountas is the student life editor for Onward State, as well as a junior pursuing a double major in journalism and psychology. She lives in a suburb of Chicago and strongly disagrees with anyone who hates the Cubs or the Blackhawks (so, pretty much anyone at Penn State). You can follow her @ClaireFountas or email her at [email protected]


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