Costa Rica

Financing Study Abroad Loan Free

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Chrysteene Smith is a student at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and an ISA Featured Blogger. She will be studying abroad with ISA in San Jose, Costa Rica.

So you have decided to study abroad. You have stalked every hashtag and travel blog, and you decide that it’s time for you to take that leap of faith and finally do this.  You imagine yourself on a white sand beach, sipping an ice cold drink gazing into the sunset. The idea of  learning a new language, making friends, and traveling excites you, then reality sinks in and you realize you’re flat broke. Trust me, I’ve been there.

If you’re anything like me, you don’t have anyone you can casually call and say, “Hey, I’m wanting to fulfill a lifelong dream to study abroad. Please have $10,000 sent to my account by tomorrow.” And if you do, consider yourself blessed. Many of us look at a problem head on and immediately let that dream pass by without giving it a second thought because it seems impossible. We’re in college, ramen noodles and dollar menus have become our best friend, and by the time we graduate we will have already taken out enough loans to put a down payment on our dream home. In late November, I left my study abroad office feeling a bit discouraged because I figured there was no way I would be able to afford this. I was already swimming in loans, and the thought of taking out more made me sick to my stomach. My advisors gave me tons of brochures and scholarship recommendations that they thought I would qualify for, and I made a goal that I was going to go to Costa Rica for a semester completely loan free.

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I began putting in extra hours at my second job, started a GoFund Me campaign, and I applied for two scholarships, the Gilaman Scholarhsip and another scholarship that my school was offering. By March I had $2300 saved, and I raised about $2500 from my GoFund Me and on top of that I was awarded BOTH of the scholarships I applied for adding up to $4000! Before I knew it, I had all of the money I needed to pay for all of my expenses! If you’re struggling financially, my suggestion is to start doing your research a year before you plan to leave, look up programs that specifically cater to YOU. Make a list of the housing options you prefer, how long you expect to stay, and try to go the nontraditional route and study abroad outside of Europe. Once you narrow down your options, pick the top three and compare which program offers the best deal within your budget. Pick up a second job over winter break, limit your spending, and start a GoFund Me campaign, along with applying for as many scholarships as you can. Giving yourself enough time will be the best way to stay ahead of the game and will also give your friends and family time to help you raise money. Don’t let financial reasons be the reason you don’t study abroad!

The worlds awaits…discover it.

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