Want to study abroad but think you can’t afford it? Think again, says Rachele Kanigel, who wrote this blog post as the co-director of ieiMedia’s new program in Kyoto, Japan.
One of the best ways to raise money for a study abroad program is to apply for a scholarship from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. This federally funded program offers grants for U.S. citizen undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies or credit-bearing, career-oriented internships abroad.
Several students have won Gilman scholarships to study abroad with ieiMedia. This year, Amy Venn, a student at Valley City State University in North Dakota, won a Gilman scholarship to study in our Oslo, Norway, program, and you can see several of her blogposts here. In 2013 Taylor Gilman a journalism student at Metropolitan State University, won a $4,000 Gilman scholarship to study with ieiMedia in Istanbul. Kat Russell, a student at California State University, Northridge, won a $5,000 Gilman scholarship to study in Istanbul in 2011. You can read about her experience in this piece she wrote for MediaShift.
The Gilman program is designed to “broaden the student population that studies and interns abroad by supporting undergraduates who might not otherwise participate due to financial constraints,” according to the program’s website. It aims to “support students who have been traditionally under-represented in education abroad, including but not limited to, students with high financial need, community college students, students in underrepresented fields such as the sciences and engineering, students with diverse ethnic backgrounds, and students with disabilities.”
This year the Gilman program will award more than 2,800 scholarships of up to $5,000. Award amounts will vary depending on the length of study and student need; the average grant is $3,000. About 27 percent of students who apply win Gilman scholarships.
The program is open to students from public and private institutions from all 50 states; Washington, DC; and Puerto Rico.
To be eligible for a Gilman Scholarship, an applicant must:
- Be a citizen of the United States;
- Be an undergraduate student in good standing at an accredited institution of higher education in the United States (including both two-year and four-year institutions);
- Be receiving a Federal Pell Grant or provide proof that he/she will be receiving a Pell Grant during the term of his/her study abroad program or internship;
- Be in the process of applying to, or accepted for, a study abroad or internship program of at least two weeks for community college students and four weeks for students from four-year institutions, in a single country and eligible for credit from the student’s home institution. Proof of program acceptance is required prior to award disbursement;
- Plan to study in a country not currently under a travel warning issued by the United States Department of State. (ieiMedia never holds a study abroad course in these countries when they are on the travel warning list.)
Award recipients are chosen by a competitive selection process and must use the award to defray study- or intern-abroad costs. These costs include program tuition, room and board, books, local transportation, insurance and international airfare.
The Gilman Program offers two summer application cycles for summer programs. The deadlines are Oct. 4 and March 7. People who apply in October will find out in late February; those who apply in March find out in May.
All applications are due by 11:59 p.m. Central Daylight Time on the date they are due. The online application system will close at this time and no more applications will be accepted. This deadline also includes uploading official transcripts from your current college or university and any transfer institution listed in your application.
Here are some tips for applying to the Gilman program:
- Before you begin the application, contact the appropriate offices at your school to determine the correct study abroad and financial aid adviser(s) who must certify your application. Some institutions designate a specific financial aid or study abroad adviser to certify all Gilman Scholarship applications.
- Submit your application at least a few days before the due date to ensure that you do not miss the deadline as a result of technical difficulties or because of heavy traffic on the Gilman website. Make sure your application is complete!
- Some institutions require a written release of information form before your advisers can certify your application. Failure to submit a written release of information form to your adviser, if required by your university, will delay the processing of your application.
- The Gilman application requires two essays: the Statement of Purpose Essay and the Follow-on Service Project Proposal. When writing your Statement of Purpose essay, stress what you hope to gain from the program and how it will help you fulfill professional and personal goals. For more information about the essays, visit the Gilman program website. (http://www.iie.org/Programs/Gilman-Scholarship-Program/Application-Process/Essays)
- Eligible programs must be a minimum of four weeks (28 days)— or two weeks (14 days) for current community college students — in one country and can be as long as one academic year. Students who are interested in ieiMedia’s Kyoto program should also plan to participate in the optional three-day Japan English Model United Nations Conference immediately before the international reporting program, so that study-abroad experience will meet the 28-day requirement.
If you do not qualify for a Gilman scholarship, contact your financial aid office and study-abroad office to inquire about other funding opportunities.
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by Kendall Gilman, James Madison University, Urbino Project 2015