San Diego State offers students who wish to study abroad a variety of scholarship options to help fund their international endeavors.
For example, the Gilman Scholarship Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is an undergraduate program for U.S. citizens of limited financial means to assist in studying abroad. The scholarship is available to students who receive the Federal Pell Grant funding at a two-year or four-year college or university.
The scholarship seeks to diversify the type of student who studies abroad. They do this by seeking in their selection process students who plan to study in underrepresented and non-traditional countries.
Japanese senior Jason Maltezo studied abroad in Japan and said he found out about the scholarship through a study abroad information session. He said the scholarship gave him some stability while studying abroad because he was paying his own way through college.
“A question I had personally was how am I going to finance myself,” Maltezo said. “It really helped me to go to these information sessions because it kind of gave me a ray of hope, like hey there is a way for students like you to still study abroad.”
Study abroad advisor Ryan McLemore said the availability of financing is a key concern among students who want to study abroad.
“There are a lot of awards out there that we have increasingly tried to make our campus aware of,” McLemore said.
He said on multiple occasions when surveying the San Diego State student body, being able to afford studying abroad is one of the top concerns amongst students.
“The majority of students are interested in studying abroad, but they need it to be affordable,” McLemore said.
Sociology senior Rosa Flores studied abroad in London for a year. Her advice for students who want to study abroad but don’t know if they can afford it is “don’t let that stop you.”
“I am a first generation college student and I come from a really low income family so I didn’t think that was possible for me either,” Flores said. “But all the financial aid you receive you can take with you and all the scholarships if you really try you will get them so it is just a matter of really believing you can do it.”
Maltezo said he thinks the number one fear students have when applying to scholarships is that they think so many people are applying for the same scholarship that they do not think they will get it because the competition is so high.
“What happens is that it creates this cycle and the moment you start giving up is the moment you already know you are not going to get it,” Maltezo said. “So I would tell all of these students who are trying to keep applying, keep writing those essays… and just don’t give up.”
While the Gilman is a scholarship based on financial need, SDSU has many other scholarship opportunities available.
For example, the Associated Students study abroad scholarship is available for any SDSU student about to study abroad, regardless of financial need.
The International Student Center holds financing seminars each semester for students interested in studying abroad. These seminars provide students with tips on how to budget while abroad, how to use financial aid and how to apply for scholarships.
Maltezo and Flores said they would have studied abroad regardless if they had not received the Gilman scholarship but they would have had to use alternative methods to pay for their expenses, like taking out loans.
“It’s important to highlight that you can afford to study abroad, you just have to plan for it and apply for as many scholarships as you can,” McLemore said. “There are a lot of awards out there.”