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Funding Study Abroad

Through the use of scholarships, fellowships, fundraising, and research grants, studying abroad can often be extremely affordable. ESF Education Abroad is particularly devoted to making international experience accessible to all ESF students regardless of cost. We encourage you to visit OIE to talk about  funding options and how to make studying abroad a reality for you.

Quick Tips

  • Sticker Shock: When looking at a program cost, read into what the cost fully entails. Some costs may include flights where as others may not. Some may have meals and housing included, again, others may not. Be knowledgeable about what the true cost means. Just because one number is higher than the other doesn’t always mean it’s more expensive.
  • Do Your Research: The internet can be a great place to start, but not all funding sources can be found online. Don't hesitate to ask professors, staff, colleagues, high school alumni associations, parents, or others for advice on where to find scholarship money. Often the least publicized sources can be the largest and least competitive!
  • IMPORTANT: Don't forget to talk with the SUNY ESF Financial Aid Office! Confirm that your financial aid will carry over while studying abroad and ask about the process/timeline.

Scholarship Application Tips

  • Apply Early and Often: Start early and take your time, paying attention to deadlines. Apply to as many scholarships as you can. Several small scholarships can add up, and you never know what may work out.
  • Use Your Resources: You should plan to have your scholarship application reviewed by at least the Writing Center and the Office of International Education. Use the resources available to you to help refine your arguments and also check for spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Be Unique: Create a unique essay for each scholarship application. Although many of the essay prompts may be similar, don’t try to draft a “one size fits all” response for all your applications. Review committees will know, and it will reflect poorly on your application.
  • Be Specific: When writing prompts, try to be as specific as possible. For example, clearly identify why you chose the specific program and location. Was there a specific opportunity, class, personal connection, or research opportunity that drove you to select your program? Research the mission of the scholarship and refer back to it in your essays.
  • Close the Loop: Education abroad is not a “one and done,” it is a lifelong process of learning and embracing an international perspective. In your applications, be sure to explain how you will continue to build on your education after returning from abroad. For example, will you use your experience on a future research project, graduate admission application, or career track? In other words, how will this opportunity continue to benefit you 1 year from now, 5 years from now, and even 10 years from now?

Nationally Recognized Scholarships

Nationally recognized scholarships are those which can be used to fund experiences abroad in a variety of locations and programs. Many of these scholarships are deemed “high impact” because of the total value offered in scholarship money. Some of these are capable of covering full financial cost of studying abroad, while others will still pay large portions at the very least. It is important that when applying to these that you check application requirements and deadlines early and often. Most of these scholarships will have specific requirements that are important to review to make sure you submit a strong and eligible application. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program
    The Gilman Scholarship Program offers awards for undergraduate study abroad for those students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding.
  • Boren Awards for International Study
    Boren Scholarships provide up to $20,000 to U.S. undergraduate students to study abroad in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests and which are underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The countries of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are excluded.
  • Fund for Education Abroad
    The Fund for Education Abroad offers both general and dedicated scholarships to students with demonstrated financial need on programs running longer than 28 days. Dedicated scholarships include the NAFSA Tamara H. Bryant Memorial Scholarship for African-American students and the Rainbow Scholarship for LGBTQ+ students. Students will be automatically considered for all scholarships based on their application responses, so if you would like to be considered for a dedicated scholarship you must self-disclose that aspect of your identity in your application.
  • Fulbright Program Grants and Scholarships
    The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.
  • Critical Language Scholarship Program
    The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is a fully funded summer overseas language and cultural immersion program for American undergraduate and graduate students. With the goal of broadening the base of Americans studying and mastering critical languages and building relationships between the people of the United States and other countries, CLS provides opportunities to a diverse range of students from across the United States at every level of language learning.

Other Funding Resources

There are many scholarships and resources out there, it is often a question of finding them! Also, just because a scholarship is not deemed high-impact, does not mean that it won't make the difference in making your program possible. Keep in mind that four $500 scholarships is still equal to one $2000 scholarship. The money is just reached in a different way. Consider some of these possible scholarships too:

Scholarship Databases

Beyond these specific options, there are hundreds of other scholarships available for prospective students. The best way to search for these scholarships is through the use of study abroad scholarships databases. OIE has listed a few of the more popular databases below. In using these databases try to consider aspects of your identity that can help you to target an individualized scholarship.

Creative Funding

In addition to searching online for scholarships, don't forget to search in other places too. Scholarships, fellowships, and grants can often be found in churches, rotary clubs, professional organizations or other non-governmental organizations.

Fundraising can also be a great way to increase funds for study abroad. If you select a program that helps achieve your long-term goals, it will be easier to solicit funds from external sources. Keep in mind that local, regional and national groups, as well as individuals, are all possible contributors. They include:

  • Family members
  • Heritage groups that have interests in specific countries (e.g. Japan-America Society)
  • Civic groups (Rotary, Kiwanis, and Lions Clubs)
  • Agencies and foundations
  • Travel agencies
  • High school alumni associations
  • Professional and business clubs
  • Media (newspapers, radio and TV)
  • Sororities and fraternities (local and national chapters)
  • Vocational rehabilitation agencies (for students with disabilities)
  • Charitable, ethnic, religious and campus organization

Program-Specific Scholarships

Program-Specific Scholarships are scholarships specific to the organization you are studying abroad through or even more specifically to the exact program you are applying.

  • School for Field Studies
    SFS works closely with ESF to help you fund a program. Even if you don’t receive aid at ESF, you may be eligible for SFS financial aid! Their financial aid committee compares the total cost that you pay to attend your college with the total cost of studying abroad with SFS. If there is a gap between these costs, SFS tries to meet your need. When you submit your SFS Financial Aid Application, you’re automatically considered for more than 12 scholarships, grants, and loans.
  • SEA Semester
    ESF students receive an automatic scholarship to study with SEA Semester! This scholarship is $7,500 for a semester program, $5,000 for an eight-week summer program, and $2,500 for a four-week summer program. Sea Education Association (SEA) understands that cost is a concern when considering study abroad. Therefore, they are committed to making SEA Semester programs affordable for all qualified and motivated students. SEA awards approximately $1,000,000 per year in both need-based and merit scholarships to students participating in SEA Semester programs. Over 50% of their students receive some sort of financial assistance; out of those, 95% receive aid directly from SEA.
  • Round River Conservation Studies
    Round River Conservation offers financial assistance through the Edward Abbey Scholarship as well as through tuition payment plans. Students are also able to defer program payment until they receive their federal and institutional aid.
  • International Sustainable Development Studies Institute (ISDSI)
    At ISDSI, scholarships are awarded to individuals that show the potential to excel in ISDSI’s programs, but may not be able to attend without financial assistance.  Scholarships are awarded every semester, and qualified individuals receive $500-2,000 per semester.  Although there is no application deadline for scholarships, funds are limited and are awarded on a first come, first served basis.
  • IES
    ESF students receive an automatic $2,000 scholarship for a semester program abroad with IES, since we are a public university partnered with IES. IES holds a wide variety of scholarships including Need-Based Aid, Donor-Funded Scholarships, Diversity Scholarships, Public University Grants, Partner University Scholarships, Special Discounts, and Disability Grants.
  • SIT
    SIT Study Abroad is committed to increasing access to international education and to ensuring you have the information you need to successfully access funding for your study abroad program with us. They offer a broad range of scholarships and grants, including their award winning Pell Grant Match. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000.

Location-Specific Scholarships

Location-specific scholarships are tied to a specific country or region of study. Below is not a comprehensive list, so be sure to search for scholarships for your region of study!

  • Freeman-Asia Scholarship
    The Freeman-Asia Scholarship provides for students with high financial need to study abroad in East or Southeast Asia. The award amount is up to $3,000 for summer, $5,000 for semester, and $7,000 for academic year. It is important to note that there is only one application cycle per academic year, with a deadline in early April for the upcoming summer, fall, and spring semesters.
  • DAAD RISE (Research Internships in Science & Engineering) Scholarship
    The DAAD RISE program provides summer research experiences to undergraduate students to work with PhD students in various projects; promoting international exchange and interest in Germany’s research landscape. This program is open to undergraduates in the fields of biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, earth sciences, and physics, and provides a monthly stipend and travel subsidy. Applications are open from early November to mid-December.
  • US-Japan Bridging Scholarship
    The Bridging Project offers scholarships to American undergraduate students participating in study-abroad programs in Japan. Funding from private foundations and major U.S. corporations, through donations to the nonprofit US-Japan Bridging Foundation, makes it possible to award about 100 scholarships each year to assist students with the travel and living expenses they will incur while studying abroad in Japan for a semester or an academic year. Applications are accepted twice a year for Bridging Scholarships.
  • Education New Zealand Scholarships
    Education New Zealand offers multiple scholarships and travel awards—search this database to find funding sources that best meet your criteria.