Since a lot of young people don’t have the money to be an exchange student there is a way to be an exchange student for “free”! The keyword here is scholarships! In this article, I want to give you an overview of how scholarships work and what types of scholarships you can apply for.
What is a scholarship?
A scholarship is basically a sponsoring or financial aid for you, which you don’t have to repay. Companies or sometimes even governments give you money so you can go to the US for a year and study abroad. Of course, scholarships are not only for exchange students. In America, scholarships are very common for students. To be able to go to college, students sometimes need to get a scholarship because they otherwise could not afford to go to college. Therefore they ask you to do certain tests, like the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) or ACT (American College Testing Program). Or you have to be an extremely talented athlete.
Those scholarships sometimes have a catch, they might expect you or ask you to do some work at local community service, write something post your stay, attend some events after your stay, attend specific classes, etc. It depends on what scholarship you got accepted into and what they put into the contract. Be aware that you might have to do that if you get a scholarship.
Types of scholarships
The first option is a full-ride scholarship or a full scholarship, which basically pays everything you might need. It pays for the cost of the exchange program, for school fees, and maybe some trips with your local coordinator.
The second option is a partial scholarship which might be a certain amount of money they give or they support you with a monthly payment. That also depends on what scholarship you applied for.
Did I get a scholarship?
Yes, I did get a scholarship but not through the usual way. I had to do an internship at a local company for the school. I did my internship at a local bank and got to know a few people at the upper management. So after my internship was done, I stayed in contact with a few people who worked at the bank.
When my parents and I decided that I would become an exchange student, I asked one of the people I had stayed in contact with if there was a way in which they could support me. He asked the positions above him and to my surprise, he told me that I needed to write a letter to the bank and ask officially for a scholarship, which I did. They accepted to be my sponsor and my parents received money to support the cost of the exchange year.
After the year was officially over I agreed on writing another letter. That letter included a Thank you note and a simplified story that I have experienced during that year. I was very lucky that they agreed on doing this with me. This should be an example for you that sometimes you just have to ask to get some support.
Where can I look to find scholarship offers?
There are a lot of options you can find on the internet. I will list a few options for German citizens down below. For other countries there might be similar options available:
- Parlamentarisches Patenschafts-Programm
- Arbeitskreis gemeinnütziger Jugendaustausch (AJA)
- Deutsche Fachverband High School e.V. (DFH)
Those are just a few links you can find searching the web. If you want to get a better overview, you should check out Die Stipendiendatenbank des Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung.
If you have the chance to get a scholarship, do it, because why not? In any case, you might have a chance to go to the US as an exchange student for ”free”. Or you maybe get support from a local company, as I got. Or you do it the normal way. Asking for support does not hurt you in any way so just do it!