By: Jacqueline Stevens, Global Correspondent, CISabroad Semester in Prague
Study abroad trips are often perceived to be synonymous with expensive, but it does not always have to be this way. I managed to get my study abroad expenses cut in half, so if you follow these steps you should be able to do the same. This list will focus more on cutting down on study abroad costs before you go take that flight to whichever destination you have chosen.
Give yourself enough time
I made the decision mid-fall semester to study abroad the following spring semester. In hindsight, this was a very rash and idiotic decision because by that time most of the deadlines for programs and scholarships had already passed. Therefore, the number of programs I had to choose from was severely limited, I did not have enough time to raise enough money, I did not have enough time to apply for my student visa, and I turned myself into a little ball of stress.
Instead you should give yourself at least three months until the due date of the program deadline to plan, decide, and figure everything out. The more time you give yourself the better. I know it is hard because you are not going to want to wait but you will thank yourself later.
Also, I suggest going abroad during your sophomore year if you will be going on a study abroad program for a semester or more. This way you will not have to find somebody to sublease your apartment!
Choose the right program
The first step within this step is to decide what type of program that you what to apply for. You can choose from study abroad trips during summer, winter, spring breaks, semester long programs, or full-year study abroad programs. I suggest studying abroad during the fall and spring semester so you can use your financial aid and scholarships to cut down on the costs. Study abroad programs that are shorter than a semester usually don’t involve formal classes. These programs are best for those people who will not be able to fit an entire semester long program into the four years at college.
Beyond the basic study abroad programs you have opportunities to volunteer, intern or even work abroad! You can choose for Ohio University credit-bearing programs, OHIO exchange programs, The Ohio International Consortium (OIC), IEP at Ohio University, or other Ohio University affiliate programs. All of these programs have pros and cons and the best way to learn more about it is to schedule a visit with the Office of Global Opportunities! They have open office hours every weekday.
The second step within this step is choosing your specific program. There are a lot of great programs for half the cost of the flashy, expensive programs to the big cities in Europe. I was determined to go on a semester long study abroad trip to the University of Westminster in London, England. Everything about the program was perfect except for the price. $18,500 just for tuition! I also had to factor in the price of housing, flights, food, and extra expenses. Instead, I choose to study at the University of Economics in Prague and I absolutely love it. Sometimes you will have to sacrifice your top choice for a more affordable program, but that is a very individual choice. If the more expensive option is perfect in every way except for the cost you can use to the next two steps to combat the high price tag.
Look for scholarships
This is a very important step in the study abroad process that not enough people take advantage of. If you are applying for a program through Ohio University you will have access to a lot of scholarships through the Office of Global Opportunities. My program is through the company CISabroad and even affiliate programs such as these offer a lot of scholarships and deals to help students afford their programs.
Below is a link to the many, many scholarships offered through Ohio University or other sources.
Raise the money
This step is a lot easier if you accomplish if you follow step one. The more time you give yourself to more money that you will raise.
Get a job! The dining halls, markets, and catering services are always hiring so if you want to get a job fast that’s a good option. These jobs aren’t anything flashy. I worked at Nelson Dining Hall for an entire semester working in the dish room until 12 am every Friday night. I made a lot of money and it’s it awesome to say that you raised to funds yourself!
Set up a GoFundMe. Crowdsourcing websites such as GoFundMe are a great option if you are in a bind and don’t think that you will be able to raise the money yourself. I used GoFundMe and I was able to raise quite a good amount of money. Pro tip! If you are studying abroad during spring semester, set up a GoFundMe before Christmas and ask friends/relatives/family members to donate to your GoFundMe instead of buying you Christmas presents. You will get so much money if you do this.
If you follow these tips you are sure to cut down on the costs of your study abroad program! If you are at all interested in possibly studying abroad go visit the wonderful staff of the Office of Global Opportunities.