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Starting Your Study Abroad Fund:

With the proper planning and effort, studying abroad can be very financially attainable for Mounties. Students are able to afford their travels overseas through multiple means and with the ongoing effort of their Study Abroad Counselor and Financial Aid Department. Most often students are able to build their abroad fund through these six avenues:

1.   Personal Savings

      • Once you know you want to study abroad, please take some time to look at your finances. Do you already have a savings account set up? Do you have a credit card? What is your monthly income versus your monthly expenses. Knowing this will help your Study Abroad Counselor guide you with relevant information.
      • Being realistic about how much personal income you have to contribute to your study abroad fund is vital. When looking at your bank account, factor in emergency savings you do not want to touch, money that will be spent on bills, rent, or tuition, and any lump sums of money you expect to come in soon (tax refunds, inheritances, etc.). 
      • Consult with your family and loved ones to see if they are also able to financially support you. Although many students initially feel uncomfortable asking for help, being honest and sincere actually encourages people to want to offer their support especially for something so life changing. Whether folks are able to contribute $50, $200, or $1,000 any amount of money collected will make a huge impact. 
      • As was mentioned earlier, it is ideal for students to open up a separate savings account to track their study abroad fund at all times. 

2.   Financial Aid

      • Did you know that Financial Aid can help contribute towards your study abroad expenses? This includes any excess money you have from your GI Bill, Pell Grant, Cal Grant, or any other grant you receive from the government. 
      • To determine if you are eligible for financial aid, students are highly encouraged to apply for the FAFSA. Mt. SAC’s Financial Aid website is an incredible resource with clear step by step instructions on how to apply and any important upcoming deadlines.
      • To determine how much financial aid you currently receive, please log onto your Mountie portal and follow these instructions: https://www.mtsac.edu/financialaid/applying-for-aid/award-status.html

3.   Scholarships

      • Scholarships include FREE money students are eligible to win. Small businesses, national organizations, and even Mt. SAC offers a plethora of scholarship opportunities for students.  
      • Students should apply to scholarships because they have nothing to lose and the applications are fairly simple. Often, most applications only ask for transcripts and a few short essay responses to questions surrounding why you want to study abroad. 
      • Scholarships are often hosted once or twice a year so please make sure to double check deadlines and eligibility requirements.

4.    Fundraising

      • Another vital way students are able to build a strong Study Abroad Fund is through fundraising. This tactic is tailored to each student individually according to their unique talents, interests, skills, and availability.
      • For people with large families, social networks, faith communities, or global connections, using digital fundraising platforms like GoFundMe are popular. Be sure to check what the processing fees cost per transaction. Once created, send to your networks directly so it can get ample visibility in order to perform successfully. 
      • Other fundraising options also include: car washes, bake sales, food drives, garage sales, art commissions, etc. Think of what service or good you can sell and the best way to sell it. 

5.   Working

      • For students open to it, working is a wonderful way to save up large amounts of money in a short amount of time. Mt. SAC offers resume workshops and also hires students eligible for work-study.
      • There are many ways to earn an income. Outside of traditionally applying to jobs and waiting for a response, also consider alternatives. Students in the past have offered tutoring, landscape services, child and pet sitting, or personal training as ways to generate their own income.

6.    Loans

      • Loans allow for students to borrow lump sums of money that is expected to be paid back at various moments in the future. There are private and public loans available for students to take out. 
      • If you apply for a loan through your college, that is a public loan you are taking out. Mt. SAC and Citrus offer these types of loans: subsidized, unsubsidized, and PLUS loans. Please consult with your Study Abroad Counselor and the Financial Aid Department before signing any paperwork to ensure you understand interest, repayment, and disbursement procedures.
      • Private loans must be applied to online or in person via various outside banking institutions. Private loans are encouraged as a last resort for students in need of financial support.

 

It is evident that there are many ways to build a Study Abroad Fund. Each of these tactics only work if they are met with proper effort and planning. Students are encouraged to make a spreadsheet to track their progress, set deadlines for momentum, and continue meeting with a Study Abroad Counselor to ask questions and receive guidance.