There’s the dream of studying abroad. And then there’s the price tag. For some students, the two may seem mutually exclusive.
Not so, says Grinnell student Andrew Lange ’13. “I was backing out of studying abroad because of financial restraints, and then I discovered the Gilman.”
The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program “provides awards for U.S. undergraduate students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding at a two-year or four-year college or university to participate in study abroad programs worldwide.”
This year Lange was awarded a Gilman scholarship to study in Freiburg, Germany. Zafreen Farishta ’13, Debbie Cifuentes Ramirez ’13, and Nancy Repreza ’13 also received Gilman scholarships to study overseas this past spring.
Those awarded scholarships for travel this fall include Laura Huerta ’14, studying in Denmark; Anika Manzoor ’13, studying in Costa Rica; Sara Sanders ’14, studying in France; and Jenny Mith ’14, studying in England in the Grinnell-in-London program.
“Without the Gilman, I wouldn’t be abroad,” says Lange. He used part of his scholarship to pay for airfare to Germany.
The program awards up to $5,000, with an average of $4,000 for fall and spring terms, and $3,000 for summer. Scholarship recipients can also apply for a $3,000 Critical Need Language Supplement. The additional funding supports a focus on less commonly studied languages, such as Arabic, Chinese, and Swahili.
“Before coming to Grinnell, I always knew I wanted to study abroad,” says Repreza, who worried about the cost of studying overseas. “I’m so grateful that Grinnell put such an emphasis on going abroad. They really helped me financially figure out how to make it work.”
Repreza spent her spring semester studying psychology in Copenhagen, Denmark. “The scholarship made studying abroad less stressful,” she says, “because financially I didn’t have to worry as much as I would have without it.”
The scholarship had a similar impact on Farishta. This spring, she studied relations between France and North Africa in Marseille, France. “My host family lived pretty far from school,” she says. “The transportation got pretty pricey.” She was able to use her scholarship to help pay for the unexpected expense.
“The goal of the Gilman International Scholarship Program is to diversify the kinds of students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they study,” says Lindsay Calvert, assistant director of the Gilman Scholarship Program at the Institute of International Education.
The program aims to support students with high financial need or diverse ethnic backgrounds. It also serves first-generation college students, students with disabilities, and other underrepresented student populations.
“The application process was very straightforward,” says Farishta, “which I really appreciated.” Along with a transcript, scholarship applicants submit two short essays: a statement of purpose and a Follow-on Service Project proposal.
“The statement of purpose essay allows the applicant to address the impact that the study abroad program will have on their academic, professional and personal goals,” says Calvert. “The student should think of this essay as an ‘in-person interview on paper.’”
For the Follow-on Service Project proposal, students describe a plan to share their experiences once they are back in the United States. Says Calvert, “The purpose of the project is to give back and inspire others to pursue study abroad and other international experiences, as well as inform others of such opportunities like the Gilman Scholarship.”
Farishta’s advice to students concerned about the cost overseas study? “Keep your options open and keep your motivation high because there are so many scholarships and so many different ways to go abroad.”
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