Spending time abroad is perhaps the most important thing you can do during your academic career. One of the saddest things I see is students who want to do it so badly, yet let financial constraints stop them.
It's never the money, it's always the commitment. We're always committed to something. What matters is what we're committed to. I've seen students who were $5000 away, and who started with no idea of how they would raise the money, come up with the money because they were committed to finding a solution. I've also seen students who were literally less than $1000 away from coming up with what they need, give up, because they were committed to seeing the obstacles.
I've written this guide on how to afford travel as a student to help students to find ways to get themselves abroad before they graduate.
Shift to an abundance mindset
Before I jump into the tangible ways you can earn money, I want to cover probably the most important part of the equation. Our minds are so powerful. If you are looking for obstacles, you will find obstacles. If you are looking for solutions, you will find solutions.
Determine exactly how much money you need to raise and then make a list of 100 ways you can raise money. I would highly recommend doing this before reading on further. Don't filter. In the beginning, the ideas can be silly. You just need to get your mind flowing. The purpose is not for you to do all of these 100 things. The purpose is for you to get your mind looking for solutions, instead of obstacles.
Fundraising is an easy and simple way to raise money for a semester abroad, yet I find that so many students shy away from it. They find it uncomfortable to ask for support.
Understand that you are giving them a gift. You are making them a part of your adventure. Think about the last time you did someone a favour? You felt good didn't you? By fundraising, you are giving your network an opportunity to do the same, so don't take that opportunity away from them. When they see your photos pop up on social media, they will feel like they are part of your journey and that they were a part of making your dream possible.
You likely have a network of people that want to help you. You just need to let them know what you're doing and how they can help.
Crowd Funding websites
There are several different crowd funding websites available, such as GoFundMe, which take a small percentage of the funds that you raise. Fundraising for a semester abroad has become as simple as writing an honest, meaningful and emotional description of why you want to go abroad, what benefits you want to gain, etc and then posting it on social media.
Why do you want to go? How is it going to further you towards your future goals?
If you want to maximize results I would recommend actually calling people to ask them to donate and share your campaign. Then for those people who you don't have phone numbers, send private Facebook messages asking for support. Or send an old fashion email.
Keep promoting it. Keep reaching out to people.
You may even end up with people financially supporting you that you have never even met before.
Another opportunity is to throw a fundraiser party. You can get creative with this. Sell tickets to the event. Have a 50/50 raffle. Ask local businesses to donate prizes for raffle or silent auction.
Ask for birthday or christmas money to go towards your travel efforts!
For more ideas, Gooverseas.com has created a list of 40 findraising Ideas for Study Abroad.
Sell what you don't need
I think most of us have collected a bunch of stuff over the years that we no longer need. Sell that old laptop or iphone. Clear out your closet. What can you sell?
Not only is this a great way of earning some extra cash for your semester abroad, but it's also a great opportunity to clear your clutter and simplify your life. Here in the western world, we tend to collect so much stuff that creates clutter in our life.
If you have to come up with money in a short period of time, sometimes borrowing money is the best option. A common way that we have had students fund their semesters abroad is through student loans or bank loans. Since you will still be studying while abroad, you can still qualify for student loans.
Another option is to borrow from friends and family. You may find that your parents or a close relative are willing to lend you most or all of what you need. If this is not the case, perhaps break it up a bit. For example, if you need to raise $2500, you could go out and borrow $250 from 10 people.
A third option could be to apply for a no money down credit card. Capital 1 or Chase offers credit cards that are 0% interest for 12 months. As a student there is a chance that you can be accepted. Go to creditkarma.ca. If you have a 640 or higher you should be eligible for at $2500-$5000. Otherwise, this could be an option for your parents to apply. If you are going to do this, just make sure you are doing it responsibly and that you have a plan to pay it off in a timely fashion- especially since after 12 months the interest rates will rise to normal credit card rates.
Earn and save extra income
If you have some time, then perhaps take on a part time job or get a summer job. Put aside a certain amount each pay cheque to save for travel.
Perhaps a semester abroad can be your 'why'. I know for me working those late night shifts at the movie theatre and being on my hands and knees picking weeds was much easier knowing that the work I was putting in was going to take me around the world.
Get creative. How can you earn extra income creatively? I threw parties in university where I'd earn thousands in an evening.
There's a ton of money to be had if you know where to look. The Institute of International Education in Washington, D.C., maintains an online searchable database of hundreds of study abroad scholarships, fellowships, grants and paid internships.
But here, too, the early bird wins. "Many outside scholarships have early application deadlines between January and March and make awards only once per calendar year. Students should be sure to plan ahead and apply early," says Carol Jambor-Smith, IES associate vice president for institutional relations.
Many colleges and universities allow students to transfer their financial aid package to an approved study abroad program, but not all do, so you'll want to find this out ahead of time. Only work-study awards are nontransferable because of student visa restrictions. So students shouldn't bank on working abroad to supplement their income, Niziolek says.
Funding your study abroad is not as impossible as it may seem, but it may take work. I always believe it's possible if you want it bad enough. However you decide to raise the money, you will not regret putting the time and effort into travelling and learning abroad!
Interested in studying and interning abroad? Check out our Semester in Development program!