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How to Afford Travel as a College Student

Seatlle Cityscape

Seattle cityscape from trip with Barrett, the Honors College, Fall 2012

It’s expensive to travel, plain and simple. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

The trick is to branch out. When you start looking to fund your trip, don’t limit yourself. There are a variety of resources out there, big and small, that can offer more than you realize.

A great place to start looking is your college’s study abroad office. Do a quick search for the website and find out what options are available for financing your trip. Sign up for any suggested workshops and look over all the potential resources. If you’re going to be traveling with your college, this is definitely a must.

Look for scholarships. These are a great source of funding, so apply for anything and everything you qualify for. There are plenty of databases out there worth exploring. You can look at your school’s study abroad website for a list, but don’t be afraid to look on Google or other search engines. StudyAbroad.com has a huge list of scholarships categorized by type and region that’s definitely worth looking it. The goal here is to leave no stone unturned. You never know what scholarships you might find!

Consider lesser-known sources. Look into heritage groups, civic groups, travel agencies, charitable organizations and more that might be willing to help fund your trip. Don’t limit yourself to people that you know; reach out to any business or person who might be willing to help. Cover all your bases and see who responds. If you want more creative ideas for funding, GoOverseas.com has a great list of 40 fundraising ideas for study abroad that everyone should take a look at.

Make sure your communication with any and all groups is professional. Asking desperately isn’t necessarily going to convince people that you’re worth financing. You want to be objective and make them a case they can’t refuse.Be sure to follow up with anybody you contact.

For more source ideas and a sample letter that can be sent to potential donators, check out Arizona State University’s Community-Based Funding Resource document.

Don’t forget to save your own money for the trip as well.  If you don’t already have a job, consider getting one. Set up monthly savings goals for yourself and find someone who can help make sure you stick to it. Making it a point to save your own money will show potential donators that you are committed to your goal.

If you find that people are unwilling to give the money as a gift, consider making it a loan. Set up a schedule in writing that outlines how and when you will repay the person or organization that is contributing the funds.

Above all, start looking early. The longer you wait to look, the more likely it is that important deadlines have passed. Finding the money you need to travel during college is going to take some determination, but it’s worth it in the end.

Have you found a creative way to finance your travel during college? Do you know of another great resource? Please feel free to leave a comment with information for everyone!

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