I hear tons of students say, “Studying abroad sounds amazing, but I just can’t afford it.” Or, “I can only afford to do one of my school study abroad programs because my financial aid doesn’t cover outside programs.”  It’s not true!!  This is where I can help you make going abroad possible (and not just through programs funded by financial aid).

Funding Your Program Abroad

We all know going abroad requires a financial investment, so how do you minimize costs? Thousands of individuals every year finance their language immersion, internship, and volunteer abroad programs through fundraising  and scholarships. And, these individuals aren’t just university students, they are gap year students and work professionals too.


So, you’re asking… Where do I even begin?!

First step, calculate your program budget. Before you even begin to look at fundraising and scholarships, figure out how much money you need and when you need it. Here is a list of things to keep in mind while doing this:

  • Program fees and tuition
  • Airline tickets
  • International medical insurance
  • Vaccinations
  • Housing (This may be included in your program)
  • Meals (Some meals may be included in your program)
  • Transportation in and around town
  • Travel and tours
  • Souvenirs

Now, some of your expenses may not be able to be covered by scholarships and/or fundraising. Tours, nights out on the town, and souvenirs are likely things that you will need to personally be responsible for, so separate your budget into two categories—program and personal. The program budget is what you should focus on for scholarships and fundraising.

For building your personal budget, find out from the program you are going on if they have budget information available to you. For each of Maximo Nivel’s locations, we keep a budget sheet that tells you prices for items including bottled water, lunch and dinner out, ibuprofen, doctor’s visits, haircuts, and more. It helps give you an idea of what the cost of living is going to be where you are going.

Where do I find scholarships?

First things first, find out from your organization if there are any scholarships available directly through them. Many organizations, like Maximo Nivel, do offer scholarships that already directly apply to you since you are registering for their program. If they do offer scholarships, start there.

Outside of the organization that you are going abroad with, there are a ton of independent scholarships available. Finding scholarships is easy, but finding scholarships that apply to you may take a little more digging. To get you started, I have included some of the scholarships we have come to know over the years and new ones that we have just been introduced to.


Open Scholarships

Rotary Club Global Grants

Scholarships for Students Enrolled at a University

Tortuga Backpacks
Boren Awards
Fund for Education Abroad
University Language Services
Golden Key International Honour Society

How do I fundraise for a program?

First, identify your fundraising audience and channels.

Your audience. Take a look at your networks, both personal and professional, who are your biggest cheerleaders? Who would help you organize a fundraising event? Who owns a company that might sponsor your program?

Your channels.  What is going to interest your audience most?  Is it selling your famous buttercream cupcakes?  Organizing a backyard BBQ that requires a set donation?  Or is it just setting up a page on an online fundraising platform?

Next, ask for a specific amount. If you are selling baked goods (or something else), set a price that covers the cost of the product while putting an acceptable amount towards your program.  Maybe that’s $25 for a half dozen cupcakes.  If you are asking for just open donations, it’s good to keep in mind that some people assume $10 is enough while others think $1,000—make it easy by offering them a tailored dollar amount that corresponds with your needs and their wallets, or multiple donation levels for them to choose from.

Be educated.   Potential donors are going to have questions (a lot of them) about your trip.  Don’t go on the defense and think they are questioning your intentions, they’re just curious and want to know more about what you will be doing.  It’s important to know how the money will be spent, what impact you plan to make, and why it matters to you. Your enthusiasm for your program will make donors much more willing and excited to contribute to your cause.

Last, but not least… Follow up!  I can’t stress this point enough… Make sure to say “thank you!”  And not only say ‘thank you, ‘ but fill them in on everything you do during your program.  Send pictures and share moments with donors, they will love to know how the experience turned out for you.

Where to Fundraise