Gap Year Financial Aid
In general, the best way to fund your gap year, whether domestically or internationally, is a combination of working a bit, fundraising a bit, and asking for scholarships a bit. And while working may not be the most exciting thing to do, it certainly is a good way to save some cash for your experience. In every case, however, we do recommend contributing financially to your experience: truest to the nature of a Gap Year, working hard to contribute financially helps manifest your ability to take ownership of your own experience.
Some of the best ways to fundraise for gap years are by thinking outside of the box and reaching out through grassroots methods rather than exclusively looking for major funders. Getting creative and reaching out to your own community is one of the most time-honored and easy ways to raise several thousand dollars. This can include a letter writing campaign to family, your church, or local businesses. In the past people have gotten insanely creative, like reaching out to a local radio station or newspaper to do an "interest piece," or by seeking funding through some more media-savvy methods like these two guys from the UK who created a youtube channel about their gap year that earns them revenue through advertising. http://www.telegraph.co.uk. Check out our ideas on more inventive fundraising below!
College Credit and Financial Aid for Your Gap Year:
Some scholarships and grants require that you get college credit in order to be eligible. Because some gap year programs also offer college credit, this is something you should look into as well. This means students can use an AmeriCorps Segal award, or even simply using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) funds including a Pell grants, or Federally subsidized college loans. Students have also found that they are able to use funds from a 529 tax savings account (tax deferred and usable for a LOT more of gap year expenses, rather than just tuition). Of course, using a 529 requires access to college credit, and thus asking individual programs whether they have such a relationship may prove lucrative.
While earning college credit should't be the primary purpose of your gap year, adding it to the equation can certainly save money both in reducing the overall cost of your gap year and in reducing the overall time of your schooling. Another great resource was suggested by a group of students in Seattle and is helpful towards understanding the tax implications around college and where appropriate deductions can be had. Thanks folks!
Program-Specific Scholarships and Grants
All scholarships have certain requirements, and here is a list of scholarships that students can apply to for specific programs. You'll want to take a look at these scholarships and if the program is interesting to you, make sure you get your application in prior to the deadlines.
- CIEE is pleased to offer a new scholarship opportunity for Gap students – Global Navigator Scholarships & Grants. CIEE gives out $100,000 in scholarships each year for students who would like to participate on CIEE Gap semester and academic year programs.
- Dream Volunteers is awarding multiple needs-based scholarships of up to $6,000 to help students defray the cost of its WorldStamp Gap Year Program. Application deadline of April 1.
- Global Citizen Year offers both merit scholarships and need-based financial aid. To date, 80% of their Fellows have received a partial scholarship, and 30% have received a full ride. In addition to need-based financial aid, Global Citizen Year offers the following merit scholarships - Global Changemakers Scholarship (up to $5,000), Jewish Faith and Community Scholarship ($5,000), College Track Scholarship (full scholarship), United World College Scholarships (amount based on need), and the Torch and Laurel Scholarship ($5,000).
- Irish Gap Year is giving away $6,500 each year in needs-based aid for students wanting to participate on either their Fall or Spring Gap Year program. This is a new scholarship aimed at improving the access for lower-income students to the Gap Year.
- ISA Gap Year (International Studies Abroad) are proud to offer $6,000 per year in Gap Year scholarships for students who are accepted into an ISA Gap Program & have a 3.0 minimum GPA. Student must submit a transcript, teacher recommendation form, 150 word Gap Scholarship statement, and a 400 word essay. Deadlines to submit completed scholarship applications are approximately 4 months prior to departure, please check the website for more details.
- Omprakash EdGE are now offering a new Gap Year Grant which includes free EdGE tuition and up to $2500 in travel funding for Gap Year students. We are excited to be able to make gap years more accessible to students from all backgrounds. In addition to the EdGE Gap Year Grant, which is essentially a 'full ride,' Omprakash are also offering EdGE Travel Grants, EdGE Scholarships, and Crowdfund Matching Grants - all of which work to defray travel and tuition expenses for applicants seeking to volunteer or intern abroad with Omprakash Partners. The application officially opens on November 5th.
- Pure Exploration NZ is offering three scholarship opportunities to 17-30yo applicants interested in Adventure Tourism and Travel, Aspiring Adventure Professional, and as an Inspirational Student. The successful candidates will be required to show an interest and previous experience in social media, video content and blogging. The purpose of the scholarship is to offer the opportunity for candidates to take part on any of the Pure Exploration Programs (Explorer or Adventure Guide Leadership Program) and to share their experience across our social media and website platforms. Requirements: 17-30yo, ability to gain a tourist or working holiday visa for NZ. An interest in adventure tourism and marketing.
- Rustic Pathways awards $20,000 per year. Available scholarships are based on merit and financial need and are awarded in varying amounts depending on the scholarship committee's assessment of both factors. Rustic Pathways Gap Year Scholarship recipients are passionate, involved, and excited about learning new skills and bringing them back to their hometowns and universities. Scholarship applications are due each March.
- Tzedek America Gap Year is now offering several $5,000 scholarships to eligible students. 1st priority deadline for completed applications is February 4, 2017 and the scholarship is awarded on a needs basis.
- Up with People offers several scholarships and grants to 17-29yo applicants interested in performing and traveling with a diverse cast of representatives from across the globe. Up to $5000 scholarship support is available for cast members based on financial need, merit, and diversity. Additionally, $10,000 African American grants, $5000 Mexican Citizen and $5000 Estonian Citizen grants are awarded for our semester-long program. Please visit our website www.upwithpeople.org/scholarships for additional scholarship opportunities.
- Winterline Global Education is proud to offer a $25,000 Full Tuition Scholarship and a $10,000 Global Skills Scholarship for needs- and merit-based scholars applying for the 9-month Global Skills Program. Winterline also offers work-study scholarships of up to $5,000 in journalism, photography, and videography for summer, semester, and 9-month programs.
General Scholarships and Grants
All scholarships have certain requirements, or must be used at specific schools/programs by specifically qualified people ... so make sure to read the requirements section of each scholarship carefully. The deadlines for submitting scholarship applications are usually far in advance of the time you'll be going abroad so it's good you're looking early.
- Hostelling International are offering eighty-one (81) $2,000 travel scholarships in 14 locations. www.hiusa.org. Applicants need to be 18 at the time of travel.
- Mesothelioma.net, and Danziger & De Llano, LLP, have a $2,000 scholarship for any students who have watched a family member or close friend go through the experience of fighting cancer, not limited to mesothelioma. Students applying for this scholarship must be enrolled at a two-year, four-year, community, or junior college, or in a graduate degree program on a full time basis. Also qualifying are high school and gap-year students planning on attending any of the programs mentioned above. All college students in the United States are eligible, but must be in good academic standing at their institution with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.
- The StudySoup Future Innovators Scholarship Program is designed to further propagate access to education for all, and is a $2,000 scholarship for outstanding students enrolling in or continuing to pursue education opportunities. Students must be a U.S. resident at least eighteen (18) years old who are either currently attending high school, or, currently attending an accredited university or college (undergraduate and graduate students are both eligible).
- Study Soup Women in Techonology Scholarship is available to foster innovation in the field of technology and help underrepresented students break down barriers, thus the $1,000 Women in Technology Scholarship for an outstanding female student who is planning a career in the field of computer science and/or computer programming. Individuals must be at least eighteen (18) years and either "Currently attending high school (or equivalent) and will be attending an accredited university or college in the next academic year", or, "Currently attending an accredited university or college (undergraduate and graduate students are both eligible)".
- http://thepollinationproject.org. The Pollination Project gives $1,000 startup grants to individual change makers and projects that promote compassion around the world.
- http://www.davidsongifted.org. The Davidson Fellows Scholarship awards $50,000, $25,000 and $10,000 scholarships to extraordinary young people, 18 and under, who have completed a significant piece of work. Application categories are Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Literature, Music, Philosophy and Outside the Box. Davidson Fellows are honored every year in Washington, D.C. with Congressional meetings and a special reception.
- www.agorapulse.com/social-media-management-scholarship. The AgoraPulse Social Media Management Scholarship is a highly competitive award for high school and college students interested in Social Media Management. Students applying must submit a brief essay explaining the best use of social media management — the act of engaging with a targeted audience on social media to increase brand visibility and build trust and top of mind awareness — that they have seen. $1,000 awards.
- http://exchanges.state.gov. The National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, provides merit-based scholarships for eligible high school students to learn less commonly taught languages in summer and academic-year overseas immersion programs. Previous language study is not required, and language learners of all levels are encouraged to apply.
- http://exchanges.state.gov. This is a scholarship for recent high school graduates or current high school students aged 16-18 to focus on "high need" languages. The current list includes: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Korean, Persian (Tajik), Russian and Turkish.
- http://testdriveyourfuture.com/gap-year-scholarships. This is a great organization that has scholarships specifically designed for Gap Year students.
- www.livfund.org. LIVFund was established in 2011 in order to recognize and proudly support study, internship and volunteer opportunities in Latin America. LIVFund has been designed for anyone who wants to learn, intern or volunteer [LIV] in Latin America and is seeking financial assistance in order to offset program or living abroad expenses. Their goal is to help others get the most out of their experience abroad... Maximum Award: $500.00 Eligibility: Anyone the age of 18 or older. Deadline: On going, you can apply up to six months prior to going abroad.
- www.fundforeducationabroad.org. Requires university credit. Fund for Education Abroad. The newly established Fund for Education Abroad (FEA) was created in order to open doors for deserving education abroad students. Starting with the 2011-2012 academic year, FEA will award funds for students planning to study abroad on any academically rigorous programs. Designed by the FEA Advisory Board, FEA scholarships are intended to meet the financial needs of students who might not be eligible for government grants or existing funds limited to specific programs or groups of students.
- http://unofficialambassadors.com. Requires university credit. Competitive scholarship for students who are primarily going to Muslim countries.
- https://www.fgscholars.org/grit/. The Foundation for Global Scholars is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Denver, Colorado whose mission is to create global citizens and leaders by assisting students in achieving their personal and professional goals of obtaining cultural and academic experiences abroad. The Foundation will support this mission by awarding scholarships to help enable students to obtain an international experience. Students who are from underrepresented populations in international education are a priority.
- www.scheppfoundation.org. Requires university credit. Schepp Foundation (if in good GPA standing)
- http://www.aatj.org/studyabroad/scholarships.html. Requires university credit. The Bridging Scholarships Program is designed for undergraduates going to Japan not on a summer program. Semester awards are for $2,500.
- http://scholarships.goabroad.com. Goabroad.com is a leading provider of information for study abroad and have compiled their own study abroad scholarship database.
- http://studyabroad.msu.edu/people/studentsofcolor/scholarships.html. Requires university credit. Scholarships for Multicultural Students - a database hosted by Michigan State University.
- http://www.rotary.org. Rotary Scholarships for undergraduate, graduate & vocational study.
- www.fafsa.ed.gov. Requires university credit. Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is the main clearing house you'll need for the biggest Federal financial aid pieces including the Pell Grant, and the Stafford and Perkins college loans.
- www.broweryouthawards.org. Earth Island Institute Brower Youth Awards for 13 - 22 year olds living in North America who show outstanding leadership on a project or campaign with social impact of environmental impact
- www.starbucksfoundation.org. Starbucks Shared Planet Youth Action Grants for service and activism
Educational Travel Scholarships
www.iie.org/programs/Gilman. Requires university credit and Pell grant eligibility (ie, a high need). The Benjamin A. Gilman scholarship.
http://www.iie.org/en/programs/freeman-asia. Requires university credit. This is for students primarily going to Asia and offers scholarships up to $7,000.
www.state.gov/p/io/unesco. The fellowship will help fund a proposal designed by the applicant to conduct brief work in a foreign country related to the mandate of UNESCO – using education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, and/or communication and information to build strong ties among nations. The fellowship is intended for American college/university students who express an interest in international collaboration but as of yet had not been afforded many opportunities to travel abroad.
More Inventive Fundraising
- www.volunteerforever.com. This is sort of like crowd sourcing for your own volunteer program. You can find volunteer programs, and the set up a profile like Kickstarter, to fund your own experience.
- www.telegraph.co.uk. This is what two guys have done in the UK to creatively fund their own Gap Years through a youtube channel that they basically have turned into a funding engine for their lives!
- http://matadornetwork.com. This is a great article by a longtime friend, Blake Boles, describing creative ideas for fundraising travel. Travel can be expensive, but some of these ideas can take the sting out of the pocket book and put a smile on your face.