Finding the money to study abroad can seem a bit overwhelming. Luckily, we offer a variety of ways to make your study abroad dreams a reality. From our large variety of scholarship and fundraising opportunities, tips, and tricks, we can empower you with the tools to take your adventure into your own hands! By earning and raising funds for your trip, you’ll gain the confidence, maturity, and independence needed to have a life-changing experience abroad.
Every year, we award nearly $4 million in scholarships and aid to help students see the world. In fact, we award scholarships to about half of our study abroad students. Through merit and need-based scholarships, national and local scholarships, and programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, we aim to make study abroad available to everyone, regardless of their financial means.
Below are some of our most popular scholarships:
- Global Leaders: Flagship need-based award program for students who are in need of financial assistance
- Helen “Peggie” Miller: Merit and need-based scholarship for students interested in studying abroad for a year or semester
- Pride: $2,000–$4,000 merit-based scholarships for exemplary LGBTQ students.
- Coast2Coast Italia: Full scholarship for year programs to Italy
- Vaya a América Latina: $2,000 scholarships for select programs in Latin America
- Yoshi Hattori: Full, merit-based scholarship to study abroad for a year in Japan
Sponsor an AFSer is an online fundraising tool provided by AFS to allow individuals to make easy and secure contributions to your AFS program fee. AFS handles all the details, so after setting up your widget all you must do is go out and find people who want to help you reach your goal!
Three Essential Steps to Fundraising:
Decide why becoming an exchange student is a worthy investment.
Fundraising requires the ability to effectively convince someone that you are a worthwhile investment. Not every potential donor will be aware of AFS-USA and the importance of foreign exchange, so it is important that you are prepared to answer questions about AFS-USA promptly and thoroughly.
Budget your AFS Experience.
Creating a budget will help you prepare for the trip-related expenses you will need to cover for your program. While the program fee is the largest expense, there are others to consider. It’s best to prepare for these expenses in your fundraising rather than be surprised by them later.
Create your Fundraising Strategy.
Successful fundraising is the product of a comprehensive, detailed strategy. It is important not only to figure out whom you should be asking for money but also to detail what resources and skills are available for you to use in your fundraising, how you should be approaching potential donors, and how you will handle the money that you raise.
Top Fundraising Ideas:
We offer tons of ideas on our website, but to name a few of our favorites:
- Art Auction: If you are tight with some artists…
Ask your artist friends or local artists in your community to help you create art. You could also create the art yourself. You might decide to create a simple canvas painting or a develop a more elaborate project where unique pieces are created (i.e. custom painted pottery, handmade lampshades, mobiles, masks, holiday ornaments, etc.). When you or the artists have created the final design, start planning your auction. Secure a location and advertise your event with signs and posters. Email your friends and family to let them know that you’re selling custom art and that the money you earn is going towards your student exchange program!
- Parents Night Out: If you enjoy babysitting…
Offer one night (several nights) or a full Saturday / Sunday for parents to let you watch their kids. This fundraiser works at any time during the year but is especially nice to offer during the holidays when you could give parents a chance to go to a holiday party or do their holiday shopping. Be sure your promotional materials explain why you are fundraising, your motivations to study abroad, and details about AFS. Secure a location and advertise your event with signs and posters. Collect games and toys for the kids; get your friends to help. Specify the ages you are comfortable with and let the parents know ahead of time how much you will be charging per hour for each child or advertise a suggested donation amount. Specify the latest time that the parents can pick up their kids!
- Host an Internationally-Themed Dinner: If you are good in the kitchen...
Host an internationally-themed dinner party where you make a cuisine from your future host country! If you prefer getting some help rather than prepare everything yourself, ask friends, parents, school teachers, family and friends to donate ingredients or fully prepared courses for the dinner. Play music, show photos, or even screen a movie from your future host country to get everyone involved in your experience. Consult your parents for input when determining how much to charge per person. Ten to 20 dollars per ticket might be reasonable based on your menu. Depending on how many people you wish to accommodate, reserve the appropriate space well in advance of the date you set for your dinner party. Send out invitations to your dinner at least two weeks in advance.
Get tips and tricks from past AFSers in this Facebook group–some of whom have raised up to 100% of the funds needed to study abroad!
Ryan R., raised money for his Global Prep trip to Spain by starting a bake sale at his local grocery store.
Ryan and his friends are considering doing another bake sale or a coin drop at school but have not determined which would be the most effective. Ryan has been looking to do an international program for the past few years, but nothing ever seemed to fit.
He learned about opportunities AFS has for low-income families through his own independent research and expressed that this is one of the best decisions he’s made. Learning about our mission and our acknowledgment of his ongoing efforts to raise funds made him feel more reassured that an AFS program was the one for him. He is beyond excited and counting down the days for his program departure to Spain!