By Adilia Watson
In the fall of 2019, I had one of the best experiences of my life: I studied abroad with USAC Ghana! I made lots of friends, saw the world and even graduated early because of it! In my decision-making and planning process, one thing was always on my mind: how could I afford this?
I relied on grants, scholarships, loans, and work throughout college. I knew studying abroad would be a big financial commitment, but I worked to figure out how I would pay for it. I wanted to avoid being stuck in a foreign country with no money to live or play. For someone who is on a low income and has no family who has already left the country, it was a leap of faith that I would be well prepared for the longest and most distant journey of my life.
I had a substantial financial incentive to study abroad: I could graduate a quarter earlier with the credits I earned during the semester abroad. When I heard that if I saved for next year and invested in studying abroad, I would save so much time and money in the end!
I had to be smart about where I was going. I was thinking of going to Ireland, but after a look at the price I changed my mind. It’s a decision I wouldn’t change for the world. You don’t have to study in an expensive western country.
For those in the same boat as me who are worried about study abroad finances, look no further! I’m here to tell you how much I spent and how I financed my trip.
Most of my money came from work. I had a work-study on campus that covered my bills while in school, but I had to cover my expenses abroad. My second job was cleaning houses around Seattle, so I spent my second year taking on more clients.
2. Odd jobs
I always checked the classifieds, Care.com and NextDoor to see if anyone needed help around the house with yard work, babysitting, tutoring or even meal prep! But above all, I cleaned up!
3. Participate in research studies
Seattle is a hub for business and scientific research. I made anywhere from $15 an hour to $300 for a two hour visit for some studies.
The University of Washington is known to pay healthy volunteers to participate in research. Or, if you have a condition they are looking for, then there may be opportunities for that too. The tours were well worth it, with only a 30 minute ride by public transport.
There are also great opportunities with market research companies that compensate you for your time and input. I really liked Q Analysts, Research Experienceand especially test video games at Microsoft!
Much of my funding comes from scholarships. I was constantly looking for identity and location based scholarships in my spare time.
The one that really kept me comfortable during the trip was the Benjamin A. Gilman International Fellowship. It comes from the federal government to help needy students expand their minds by interacting with the cultures of other countries. The scholarship gave me $2,000 to cover my passport, pay for my visa, meals, yellow fever shot, and program fees.
Also, if you choose to study with a specific program (which I highly recommend), scholarships may be available. I was able to cover part of my accommodation and a cultural trip they had planned with the extra money they gave me. USAC gave me extra funds that helped pay for my room on campus.
5. Get a remote internship/scholarship
During my time abroad, I benefited from an additional cash flow by doing a virtual scholarship. I got it during my first month in Ghana and had to put in 10 hours a week on it. The stipend I received for my participation helped me survive.
Always check Indeed, LinkedIn, job sites, or the “Careers/Internships” page on a nonprofit organization’s website.