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How to Fund Study Abroad

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Kimberly Manning

Studying abroad is life-changing for students who are able to immerse themselves in new experiences, cultures, and ways of life. For some students it feels like a dream come true, but for others it may feel like just a daydream. Studying abroad can be financially out of reach for many. Luckily, there are several options to make it accessible for all.

At Where There Be Dragons, we strive to make our programs accessible to students of all economic means and provide support as best we can. For those wondering how to fund study abroad, consider options that include financial aid, FAFSA  loans, scholarships, and more.

Peru, Photo by Luis Reyes

How to Fund Study Abroad

Financial Aid

Any student who demonstrates the need for financial assistance is encouraged to apply for aid. Financial aid applications for Where There Be Dragons programs are submitted online. Students are asked to include a cover letter detailing their financial situation, reasons for wanting to participate, program choices, and how much assistance is needed. The financial aid application is an opportunity for students to share their excitement and share more about who they are. 

However, it’s important to understand other options in case we aren’t able to award you with financial aid. The Financial Aid Committee considers a range of factors when allocating funds, so be prepared to explore other avenues as well. Where There Be Dragons wants to make traveling abroad accessible for all, but keep in mind that our financial aid is limited due to high demand.

529 Educational Savings Fund

A 529 plan is an education savings plan operated by a state or educational institution so families can set aside funds for future college costs. These funds can sometimes be used for for-credit college courses on gap semesters and some summer programs. However, different requirements and rules apply for different agencies, so be sure to contact your plan administrator to determine eligibility. 

Fundraising Campaign

A fundraising campaign is a creative option for students who are seeking an alternative to receiving lending from a financial institution. This option takes a bit more effort and networking, but can be effective. You can easily set up a fundraising website and do outreach to friends, family members, professors, and more.

External Scholarships

Students can consider applying to external scholarships, including the HI USA Explore the World Travel Scholarship and USA Gap Year Fair Scholarship. These and other external scholarships help support students’ travel abroad. It’s recommended that students apply to several scholarships (3 to 5) for better odds of receiving funds for travel. 


FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is another option for students to fund their study abroad program. Depending on the results, students will receive a financial aid offer through the U.S. Department of Education. There are four types of federal loans students may receive: direct subsidized loans, direct unsubsidized loans, direct PLUS loans, and direct consolidation loans. 

Learn more about Where There Be Dragons financial aid process and advice. 

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