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BP Scholarship FAQ

Who is funding this scholarship?

BP created this scholarship program aimed at providing financially challenged students with the opportunity to study abroad and gain intercultural skills needed to succeed in a global economy. In 2014-15, this scholarship program will sponsor the exchange of 50 high school students between the United States and Brazil, China, India, Malaysia or South Africa.

What is BP?

BP is one of the world’s largest energy companies. In the U.S., BP has approximately $52 billion in assets and employs some 23,000 staff. The company’s main businesses are exploration and production of oil and gas; refining, manufacturing and marketing of oil products and petrochemicals; transportation and marketing of natural gas. BP also has a growing renewables business, BP Alternative Energy, focused on proven technologies like wind and emerging forms of renewable energy, like advanced biofuels.

What is AFS Intercultural Programs?

AFS Intercultural Programs provides intercultural learning experiences that bring global cultures together by helping people connect, transforming the lives of thousands of students, families, and individuals every year. With AFS organizations in more than 50 countries and a global network of approximately 45,000 volunteers and staff, AFS is committed to helping participants develop the intercultural skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a global marketplace through immersion experiences in foreign cultures.

What kind of candidates are you looking for?

This scholarship is ideal for students who have strong academic records, a desire to study abroad, and a willingness to participate in an academic setting. Strong candidates will be ready to fully immerse themselves in the intercultural learning experience during the duration of the program.

Students with demonstrated strengths in academics, but particularly an interest in math, science, technology and other fields important to the energy industry will be a focus of the program.

Who is eligible?

Students must meet the following eligibility requirements:

I live just outside of Chicago/Seattle, am I eligible?

Yes, students living in the greater Chicago and Seattle metro areas (as well as anywhere in the state of Texas) are eligible to apply. If you have questions about your eligibility for this scholarship based on where you live, please email bpscholarship@afsusa.org.

How long is the program?

The BP Global Citizens of Tomorrow scholarship will support students applying for a year program (approximately 10 months) to one of five countries: Brazil, China, India, Malaysia or South Africa. AFS reserves the right to choose the final country destination and does not guarantee you will be offered a scholarship to one of the country preferences you list on your AFS application.

Do I get to pick my destination or is a host country selected for me?

Students will be going to Brazil, China, India, Malaysia or South Africa - countries with rapidly expanding economies and BP operations. While a student’s preference is considered, students should be flexible as AFS works to find the best fit for each student.

AFS reserves the right to choose the final country destination and does not guarantee you will be offered a scholarship to one of the country preferences you list on your AFS application.

What is included in the scholarship?

Your scholarship covers your full AFS program tuition, domestic and international airfares, a monthly allowance, and a stipend to cover the majority of your visa costs.

Costs associated with obtaining a passport are not covered by the BP scholarship. A passport costs approximately $135. Apply for a passport online or at your local post office.

Can I get school credit from my study abroad?

Maybe, but we cannot guarantee it. The amount and type of credit you receive is determined by your high school in the U.S. It’s important to talk with your teachers and guidance counselor before you depart to arrange your schedule. In most cases, AFS participants have received language, history, or social studies credits. Be sure to keep a copy of any formal grades or transcripts you receive from your host school. It is your responsibility to obtain any written information about your attendance and grades in your host school before you return home. AFS cannot assist you with course or grade information after you complete the program.

How do I apply?

Application requirements are outlined on the how to apply page of the website. If you have questions, please email AFS at bpscholarship@afsusa.org.

When is the scholarship application deadline?

Scholarship applicants must:

Applicants, who meet the scholarship eligibility requirements and satisfactorily submit the above materials will advance in the scholarship application process as semi-finalists. Semi-finalists will be notified shortly after the deadline.

Semi-finalists must:

Finalists will be determined in late February. At that time, more details will be provided about a group interview event to be held in early March.

Scholarship winners will be announced in early April 2014.

If I am selected as a semi-finalist, how long will it take me to complete my AFS application?

AFS recommends that you give yourself 2-3 weeks to complete your AFS online application, but it is really up to you how quickly the application can be finished. We have received applications in less than 48 hours from students responding to an application deadline.

The AFS application is in-depth and requires a visit to a doctor’s office, additional essays from you and your parents, and photos.

Do I have to have an interview?

If you are selected as a finalist, an interview will be scheduled at your home with a local AFS volunteer.

Do I have to do anything while abroad or when I come back related to this scholarship?

There will be events organized with BP in the U.S. and while you are abroad. More information will be provided as details become available.

Who will I live with while I am abroad?

AFS will assign you with a carefully selected host family, who will open their home and share their lives with you. There’s nothing like the experience of living as a member of a family and community in another country.

When will I receive information about my host family?

This depends on many different factors and is different for everyone. Some students learn of their placement soon after they are accepted into the program; some learn about their host community right before departure. However, most students learn of their placement about 2-4 weeks prior to departure.

The AFS staff and volunteers in your host country work to find the best placement for you and the host family. They want this to be a positive experience for everyone and will work hard to make the best placement possible. Keep in mind that even if a great host family is identified for you, the placement won’t be finalized until a host school placement is confirmed in writing as well. This process takes time. But rest assured that AFS will get your host family contact information to you as soon as it is available. Although we do our best to provide you with your host family information at least two weeks before departure, this is not always possible.

If you have placement restrictions, such as allergies to pets or to the environment, specific requirements for religious services, or any dietary restrictions, the placement process will likely take longer.

How do I go to school in another country if I can’t speak the language?

Many AFS participants begin the program with little or no experience in the language of their host country, but quickly learn to communicate at a basic level. There is no better way to learn a language than by speaking it every day! Do your best to communicate, even if you are using basic words and phrases. You’ll get better each day and by the end of your year abroad, you’ll likely be fluent in the host country’s language.

What is a passport?

A passport book is an international form of identification showing a person’s nationality. It is required of all individuals traveling internationally. If you still do not have a passport, you should obtain one now. Obtaining a U.S. passport generally takes about 6-10 weeks. The longer you wait to take care of this detail, the more expensive and frustrating the process. Not having a passport can also jeopardize your chances of going abroad since you can’t travel anywhere without one. AFS requires that your passport be valid for at least six months beyond your intended date of return.

When should I apply for a passport?

If you have not already applied for a passport book, apply now! It can take six to eight weeks to receive your passport and you will need it in order to obtain your student visa. Apply for a passport online or at your local post office. If you already have a U.S. passport, make sure it is valid for at least six months after the end of your program. If not, start the renewal process immediately. A passport costs approximately $135.

Are passport costs covered if I win the scholarship?

Costs associated with obtaining a passport are not covered by the BP scholarship. A passport costs approximately $135.

What is a visa and will I need one?

A visa is a stamp or other notation generally placed in your passport that will allow you to enter and temporarily reside in your host country during your program. A visa is required for all year programs.

Are visas hard to obtain?

The answer to this question depends upon your destination country. For some countries, the process is straightforward and relatively quick, but for other countries, obtaining a visa can be very time consuming and quite expensive. You will need to begin preparations for obtaining your visa upon receipt of your country specific visa information. This will be posted online and emailed to you approximately 6-8 weeks prior to departure.

Please note that some visa applications require you to apply in-person at your host country’s regional consulate. You may be required to travel to the consulate in order to do so. Any expenses incurred to travel to a regional consulate are the responsibility of the student/family and are not covered by the BP Global Citizens of Tomorrow Scholarship.

Also, if your program requires you to apply for a student visa, you may have to submit your passport to the consulate along with your visa application. For this reason, we suggest that you not plan any international trips in the months prior to your departure on an AFS program.

Are visa costs covered if I win the scholarship?

You will be reimbursed for the majority of your visa fees. Reimbursement will be provided after you have applied and paid for your visa. Please plan to cover the visa fees upfront. More details will be provided closer to the time you would need to begin the visa application process.

Do I need to get any vaccinations before I travel abroad?

The majority of AFS countries do not require special immunizations. AFS recommends immunizations based on the information provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. All AFS participants should be immunized against the seven childhood diseases: measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus (DPT), and polio. We recommend that you check with your family physician to determine which immunizations are appropriate based on your medical history.