Financing

Did you know that if you wanted to study abroad, there are tons of ways to help you pay for it? I thought studying abroad in Europe was going to be an extremely expensive venture, but through some painstaking research, I found out it doesn't have to be. One of the most helpful financial resources I discovered was the Gilman Scholarship—a government-funded scholarship for undergraduate students who currently receive a Federal Pell Grant. This page is going to help you towards receiving that scholarship so you can achieve your study abroad goals!

 

Important Things to Know

 

Eligibility

  • Must be a citizen of the United States
  • Must 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)
  • Must be a recipient of a Federal Pell Grant or provide proof of receiving a Pell Grant during the term study abroad program or internship
  • Must 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
  • Request to study in a country not currently under a Travel Warning issued by the United States Department of State or otherwise determined ineligible for program participation

Awards

  • Over 2,800 scholarships of up to $5,000
  • Applicants who are studying a critical language are eligible for up to $8,000  (Critical need languages include: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, Urdu)

Where to Apply

Link: Gilman Scholarship application

Source: https://blog.usac.edu/how-to-get-your-gilman-scholarship-application-noticed/


Other Information

 

Writing the Essay

When I first heard about the Gilman Scholarship, I felt like there was no way I could get it. While I was receiving Federal Pell Grants for school because I was over the age of 24 and was not considered financially dependent on my parents, I did not fit the mold of typical recipients—I wasn't attending a critical language country (Germany definitely did not make the list), I didn't come from a low-income, minority, or no-education background. I, like many others however, did struggle with opioid addiction and decided to discuss that in my essay. The intention was not to say "poor me" or take advantage of my situation, but I did feel that I overcame quite a bit and for once felt I deserved something. I spent quite a bit of time and effort writing the essay, and could not be prouder of how it turned out.

Before I include a copy of my essay, here are some tips I found to help you write your essay:

  1. Talk to Gilman representatives and past recipients to get tips.
  2. Find out why you really want to study abroad and explain it in your essay—don't just say you want to travel and see the world.
  3. Be honest! Don't lie or exaggerate your life, situation or reason for studying abroad—people can usually tell.
  4. Find someone to edit your essay and make sure it's someone who isn't afraid to pick it apart.
  5. Start early! These kinds of essays can take quite a while to perfect, and if you rush it, it won't come out as good as it could be.
  6. Talk about your career and/or academic goals and how studying abroad can help you achieve those.
  7. Don't be afraid to let your heart out and be vulnerable.
  8. Write multiple drafts!
  9. Do some research on the university, town/city and country for which you are applying.
  10. Lastly, express yourself and don't hold anything back!

Follow Up Project

If you are one of the lucky recipients of the Gilman Scholarship, you will be required to complete a follow-up project after your study abroad term. What's more, when you apply for the Gilman Scholarship you are required to write in detail about what your project will be. The project is meant to help promote the Gilman Scholarship and studying abroad to other students who many not know about it. It's like a brand awareness project.

I originally planned to do some sort of project to help encourage recovering addicts and alcoholics to apply for the Gilman Scholarship and study abroad. As I got closer to leaving for Germany, I realized this was not feasible at all. There were so few recovering addicts and alcoholics who had the ability, means, or desire to study abroad, that my project would not make much impact. Halfway through my study abroad term, I realized I was taking all these beautiful pictures of all these amazing European cities and towns, so I figured I would start a travel blog. I had quite a bit of blogging experience and thought I could make a great site. As you can see, RyanInEurope.com is pretty darn good! I have spent over 100 hours working on this (much more than most projects require), but I have thoroughly enjoyed working on this. Plus, the blog has been a tool for myself so I don't forget any of the wonderful places I've seen. All in all, think your project through carefully so you don't have to go through the painstaking process of submitting a proposal to change your project.

My Essay

I debated with myself whether it was a good idea to share my essay with the world, but in my opinion, the benefits far outweigh the risks. One of you may read this and discover you can write a great essay too! Now I don't consider myself a great writer, and I'll never claim that this essay is any good, but here it is:

 

As a boy, I grew up hearing the adventures of my mother and grandparents in Germany where they lived on a military base in Wiesbaden for several years. From Bavaria to Westerstede—where my great grandfather was born—and from Frankfurt to Berlin, I was fascinated with the beauty of Germany. To me, it was a place full of sleepy little towns with great food, friendly people, and inspiring culture. Last year I was able to visit Germany for the first time and I felt an overwhelming desire to go back and attend a university there.

Studying in Germany for a semester would be a once in a lifetime chance to fulfill one of the biggest dreams I ever had. After preparing for this for several years, and I am eager to embark on this journey. Unfortunately, this dream has not always been that attainable.

I have been attending San Diego State University since 2010. Shortly after arriving at school, I was injured and engrossed in a horrible painkiller addiction. Although this was not a unique situation, it was unlike anything I could have imagined. During that time, I was close to failing out of school, losing my relationship with my family, and losing myself. After several years, I finally realized it was time to do something about it and entered into a treatment program, and have remained abstinent since. I learned a great deal from this experience, most importantly was how to utilize resources that are available to me and how to ask for help when I need it. I also learned the remarkable strength we as humans have to push through adversity, provided we have the support and motivation.

I was always an ambitious child, and that which was lost was found again. I immediately went back to community college to work to get my grades back up and eventually go back to SDSU. Since my sobriety, I have fought tooth and nail to bring a failing GPA to a respectable one. I even made the Dean's List two years ago. I have discovered a passion for marketing and working with people, and even started a small technology training business called [redacted] that allows me to do both. Since accomplishing this, my desire to study abroad has only been reinforced.

I knew from my family ties and their stories that I wanted to study in Germany. But where? As I searched through every single study abroad program with marketing courses, I found the perfect one: the University of Mannheim. It felt as if the program was made just for me. It has all the classes I need and want, and it happens to be only an hour away from where my mother and grandparents lived 30 years ago. The University of Mannheim—or Universität Mannheim as it is called in German—is a highly prestigious business school and people flock there from all over the world. I had hoped to take classes that not only helped me achieve a bachelor’s in business, but would teach and inspire me to be a more successful version of myself. Courses like "International Business Management," "Strategic Supply Chain Management," and "Services Marketing" are offered there and would be a tremendous asset to my business, career, and life.

Immersing myself in Germany's culture will give me an opportunity to apply German principles and values to my life, as well as to better understand the language and its intricacies. And trust me when I say there are intricacies. Fortunately, the University of Mannheim has a program where I can find Mannheim locals and practice German with them, as well as receive bureaucratic  and administrative help. This program will be an excellent environment for me to practice and improve my conversational German so I can utilize those skills throughout the semester, as well as the future. Mannheim has other programs that help exchange students maximize their opportunities, all of which I will be exploring thoroughly.

Studying abroad is, of course, an opportunity to travel and have fun, but it is so much more to me. In an age of globalization, being able to be culturally aware is crucial to success. According to research, conversations with friends and my own experience, Mannheim is a diverse city made up of people from all over the globe. Also, with the influx of migrants, there is a unique opportunity present to experience diversity at its finest. There I can learn about all their cultures, and in turn, learn more about mine. Germany is also home to some of the largest companies in the world (e.g., Volkswagen, Siemens, BMW, and Metro). Studying and living there will give me insight into how so many German's are such masters of business and finance. I hope to apply those standards and ideals into my career.

Being proud of my accomplishments has always been difficult for me, but I am proud of myself for taking on the challenge of living and studying in a country roughly 6,000 miles away. I am proud of myself for studying the language so hard and learning about the culture for the past two years in class and with a tutor. I have never researched anything so vigorously or wanted anything so much. Studying abroad the first time was amazing, but studying abroad a second time is even that more exciting to me. As I sit here writing, I find it difficult to put into words how much I want and need this. As I sit here writing, I find it difficult to put into words how much I want and need this. Since I am a senior, this is my last chance to fulfill this dream. I learned a great deal about Germany from my research and travel there, but I still have so much to discover. The skills I will obtain from studying in Germany will manifest in many ways; by being adaptable and better understanding multiculturalism, I will become uniquely prepared for the future job market. Marketing, traveling, and learning has genuinely been the most enjoyable things in my life. I want to push the boundaries of my comfort zone and uncover how to think in different ways. I want to get out of my routine and put myself in unique situations with unique people. And now that I finally have my life back, I am ebullient and ready to start something new.


I hope this page can help you on your journey of paying for your study abroad program. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment on one of my posts and I'll get back to you. Good luck and make every single moment of your travels count!