Central America Travel Program
Photo by Julianne Chandler, instructor
« Back to Blog

Helpful Financial Aid Advice & Information

Posted on

03/07/18

Author

Dragons HQ

The reality of providing the highest-quality and best-staffed cultural immersion experiences in the industry is that the associated costs are high. Although Dragons program tuitions are still competitive with the general market, we recognize that summer and gap year programming can feel out of the realm of financial possibility for some students. To make Dragons more accessible to students/families of all economic means, we offer need-based financial aid. In fact, more than 20% of the students on Dragons programs do so with the assistance of financial aid (Average aid packages generally cover between 20% and 80% of the cost of a program). If you feel certain that Dragons is right for you, then we encourage you, regardless of your financial considerations, to go through our aid application process. Don’t worry: It can seem intimidating at first, but if you have the passion and motivation, we’re here to answer your questions and help you through the process. If you need some extra encouragement, we’ve even included a few quotes of guidance from some of our past financial aid recipient students at the end of this post.

THE PROCESS FOR APPLYING FOR FINANCIAL AID

STEP 1: Fill out the standard online application. The $850 application fee is waived for students applying for financial aid.

STEP 2: Submit a cover letter and supplemental financial documents. Email them to [email protected]. Your cover letter should include:

  1. Your reasons for wanting to participate in a program, and why we should consider you for aid
  2. Why you think you would be a great Dragons student
  3. Your top THREE preferences for program/country/area.
  4. A summary of how much tuition you and your family can contribute toward a program and any other relevant information about your family’s finances you think we should know.
  5. Financial Documents: Please submit either a copy of your parent’s most recent tax returns OR a copy of your FAFSA.

STEP 3: As soon as we have all of the three pieces of your financial aid application (online application, cover letter, and financial documents), we will get in touch with you. You can expect to hear back from us within a couple weeks. If you are selected by the Financial Aid Committee to move onto the next steps of the application process, we will set up a phone interview.

STEP 4: You can also find this information on the Financial Aid Section of our website.

OUR ADVICE

  • APPLY EARLY: We accept students and award aid on a rolling basis. You can apply anytime, but the sooner you apply, the greater the chances funds still remain to be allocated.
  • PATIENCE: It can take time for the Financial Aid Committee to make a decision as the enrollment and fund allocation process involves many moving variables. Feel free to check in on the status of your application by getting directly in touch, but also be aware that the process might take some patience before a final decision is reached.
  • FLEXIBILITY: The more flexible you are in terms of the location and type of program you seek, the more likely we will be able to find a space for you. It’s for this reason we ask you to list your top three preferences for program/location. You can also be open to going on any program!
  • JUST APPLY! When in doubt, just apply! Some students don’t apply for financial aid because they assume they won’t qualify or be selected. But we encourage you to take the chance and time to apply, regardless of your personal questions and concerns. If you feel strongly that Dragons is right for you, we want to hear from you.
  • TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF: As much as we would like, we cannot award aid to all students. We select students who are the best fit for our programs, students who will bring the most into a course and get the most out of it, and those who take the time and energy to demonstrate that in their application.

ADVICE FROM PAST FINANCIAL AID RECIPIENTS

There are a number of student alumni who are willing to be touch with prospective students considering applying for aid. If you would like to be connected with any of these past students, just let us know. They are great resources for navigating the application process as well as for tips on how to raise additional funds to cover the remaining costs associated with a program.

“I do not have a lot of money and had doubt if I would get any financial aid at all, but I took the time to tell Dragons about myself, my past experiences, and why I wanted this. I ended up being able to go the Thailand for a month for a tuition that was affordable. It was absolutely worth the 30-mins for the 30-days of incredible experience. Just take the time to apply.” THAILAND PROGRAM PARTICIPANT

“What really convinced me was talking with a Dragons Instructor and an alum student. Hearing their perspectives helped me realize that Dragons was the right program for me. I was nervous about the Financial Aid application, but Dragons was very helpful and supportive through the entire process. Being a scholarship/financial aid student was stressful because there was no specific location at first to dream incessantly about, until I was told. In the end, this allowed me to think critically about skills and experiences I wanted to gain as opposed to specific places I wanted to see.”  SENEGAL PROGRAM PARTICIPANT

“I was a little skeptical about applying because I didn’t see how typing up a simple cover letter would help me get a scholarship. But Dragons keeps things simple, and authentic to merit, so there was no need to submit all those additional documents.”BOLIVIA PROGRAM PARTICIPANT

“I never thought studying abroad would be possible for me given my family’s financial situation. My mom immediately shot down the idea, but nevertheless I contacted Dragons asking about the financial aid process. They were incredibly helpful. With diligence and hard work, a few months later I got an email saying they would make it possible for me to study in Nepal for the summer. I cannot begin to express what a transformative experience it was for me. The financial help is out there if you have you have a true passion for travel and learning about the world around you!  NEPAL PROGRAM PARTICIPANT

“I had an idea to write up a brief letter about this trip opportunity and send it to local businesses or organizations and family asking for a donation in a specific amount or for a specific item in return for a presentation (or something less formal for family) on my experiences.” NORTH INDIA PROGRAM PARTICIPANT

“I never thought studying abroad would be possible for me given my family’s financial situation. My mom immediately shot down the idea, but nevertheless I contacted Dragons asking about the financial aid process. They were incredibly helpful.  With diligence and hard work, a few months later I got an email saying they would make it possible for me to study in Nepal for the summer. I cannot begin to express what a transformative experience it was for me. The financial help is out there if you have you have a true passion for travel and learning about the world around you! Some tips: 1) Stay organized! Make a spreadsheet with all of the application details. This will help you stay on top of deadlines and give you the peace of mind of having it all in one place. 2) Buy used backpacks and hiking gear. Often, it was only used minimally and then never needed again. It is a great way to save money!” NEPAL PROGRAM PARTICIPANT
 
“It is important to have adult support. Initially, I did not think I could do this. But I was encouraged to get a catalog and just look. The catalog is so beautiful- the photographs and descriptions are inspiring and I lived with it for awhile, imagining what I would do and where I could go if finances weren’t limiting. So first piece of advice: Get the catalog and live with it! My mom encouraged me to just apply. It is an easy and fun application and they ask great questions. I would encourage anyone who has the traveller spirit to just try and see what happens. If you have a few adults on your side — a parent, teacher, mentor — they can assist you in helping to raise additional funds. Doing this program enabled me to see how I might be able to travel by myself as well – I am looking forward to my next adventure.” EAST HIMALAYAS PROGRAM PARTICIPANT
“If you’re passionate enough about going, you WILL get there. Getting your parents on board can be tough. Mine were hesitant to let me travel thousands of miles for thousands of dollars, but get your parents to email people at Dragons, have them read past participants reflections, or even have them give the office a call. That definitely helped. My parents were a lot less nervous after talking with the people whose jobs are to keep me safe.”MADAGASCAR PROGRAM PARTICIPANT
“Dragons staff was so helpful in making the experience possible. Whenever my parents and I had questions about the application process, we would email them and they would get right back to us with a helpful answer.”GUATEMALA PROGRAM PARTICIPANT 
 
“When I was first looking at Dragons programs, I couldn’t imagine anything I would rather do, but it seemed impossible. I had absolutely no means to pay for such a program, and was intimidated about applying for a scholarship. I didn’t want to apply and get my hopes up just for them to be crushed if I were to be rejected in the application process. I almost gave up on applying entirely. But then, on the day of the deadline at the very last minute, I submitted my scholarship application – just in case. I was still so nervous and felt this weird guilt around having to apply for a scholarship, but I figured I had to at least try, and that is my advice to anyone interested in a Dragons program who needs financial assistance. It seemed like a miracle when I got an acceptance letter with a scholarship offer. And since that trip, my life has taken a completely different path. That first trip to China led me to another Dragons trip to China, which I was able to receive ANOTHER scholarship for, and that trip led me to my decision to major in Chinese in college. Dragons has influenced my life drastically in so many ways, and it was all because I took a chance on applying for a scholarship.” – MULTIPLE  PROGRAM ALUMNI STUDENT

Here’s a PDF version of Dragons Financial Aid Process & Advice that’s printer-friendly if needed.

More about Financial Aid

No Comments Yet

Be the first to start a conversation

Leave a Comment

Fields marked with * are required