Financial Aid

Funding 101

When funding a Study Abroad trip, the hardest part is knowing where to start. There are countless scholarships and funding options out there, so staying proactive and organized is key. Explore the page below to learn more about...


Funding Basics

What does Financial Aid imply?

Financial Aid consists of loans, scholarships, and/or grants. Some of the sources for this aid include federal, state, GVSU funds, and private scholarships/grants. A student can predict how much Financial Aid they will receive during their time abroad by looking at their current year’s Financial Aid Award (located in myBanner). A student can also contact Financial Aid directly by using the Financial Aid Template Email to receive an estimate for their available financial aid. 

Where can I find Financial Aid Information for my specific program type?

Because each Study Abroad program is different, Padnos International Center has created a "Financial Aid Guide" for our different program types: Faculty-Led and Partnership/External. Reference these guides for more information on the Expense Form, Financial Aid Agreement, Out-of-State/International/Veteran/etc. student information, and more. 

Financial Aid Guide: Faculty-Led Programs

Financial Aid Guide: Partner/External Programs

Suggested Funding Timeline

12 - 18 Months Before Departure: 

  • Research scholarship and grant opportunities. Many scholarship applications are due 12-18 months prior to when you plan to study abroad. For semester or academic year applicants, many scholarship deadlines are in February/March of the year prior to the semester you may be abroad. So, if you are planning to study abroad in the Fall 2024 or Winter 2025, a scholarship deadline may be in February 2024. Planning ahead when applying for scholarship/grants is crucial to ensure you meet the application deadlines.
  • Consider all your funding sources to help meet the costs associated with studying abroad (Financial Aid, personal funds, fund raising, etc.)
    • Schedule an appointment with Padnos International Center or the Financial Aid Office with any Aid specific questions or concerns.
  • Create a Spreadsheet with all scholarship/grant opportunities, deadlines, and requirements. Use this Spreadsheet to stay organized and apply to all relevant Financial Aid opportunities.


6 - 12 Months Before Departure:

  • Complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the year you plan to be abroad. FAFSA’s priority application deadline is March 1. For additional information, contact the Financial Aid Office at (616) 331-3234 or visit their website at Summer Study Abroad students must also complete the Spring/Summer Application for Financial Aid, which will be available by early February.
  • Continue researching scholarships/grants and apply by any application deadlines.


60 - 90 Days Before Departure:

  • Complete the Study Abroad Expense Form and the Financial Aid Student Agreement. The Expense form is available in VIA TRM. The Financial Aid Student Agreement will be sent to you with your GVSU acceptance materials and is available on the PIC Pre-Departure website. Your financial aid will not be released to you if these two items are not completed.
  • Receive an Early Financial Aid Refund – The Padnos International Center will work with the Financial Aid Office and Student Accounts to make sure your financial aid funds are released prior to your departure for your program. Please note that you must (1) have accepted your financial aid award; (2) submitted your Financial Aid Student Agreement; and (3) submit your study abroad expense form in VIA TRM.
  • Hear back about Scholarships/Grants and create a Funding Plan using Financial Aid, personal funds, loans, etc.

Funding Tips

Tips for Finding Scholarships/Grants

  1. Filter your Scholarship/Grant Search by financial need, personal identity, major/minor, length of program, home city/county, race/ethnicity, skills, country of program, studying a critical language, Pell Grant eligible, first-generation, and more. Do a Web Search based on these filters.
  2. Utilize GVSU Scholarship/Grant resources (MyScholarships) as well as Scholarship Search engines. Remember that, a scholarship does NOT have to be Study Abroad specific to apply to Study Abroad.
  3. Ask Academic Department about possible scholarships for students. Often times each academic department has scholarships available to students in specific majors.
  4. Search for hometown scholarships, grants, or sponsorships. Many times, hometowns have a community foundation or some sort of grant or scholarship.
  5. If studying abroad through an External program make sure to check your providers website because often times, each provider has scholarships for their own programs.
  6. Utilize the Office of Fellowships if eligible for any Nationally Competitive Scholarships.

Tips for Applying for Scholarships/Grants

  1. Start early, apply early, and apply for a lot! The more scholarships you apply to, the better your odds. Also, the earlier you start, the more time you can dedicate to your applications.
  2. Create a Spreadsheet or some type of organizational list to keep track of scholarships/grants, deadlines, requirements, award amounts, etc.
  3. Create a solid "template" personal statement / scholarship essay that is able to be slightly tweaked depending on the scholarship/grant requirements. This will help save time and allow you to work more efficiently.
  4. When writing scholarship essays, remember that the main point is that they want to know who you are and why should they give you money. Scholarship writing can be very introspective into who you are and what you plan to do with your life. Make your essays personal and don’t underestimate the power of truth! 
  5. Spell check, proof read, and get as many eyes on your applications as possible. The GVSU Writing Center is a great resource and are more than willing to read essays at any time. If you are applying to a Nationally Competitive Scholarship, the Office of Fellowships will help you make your essay and application the most competitive.

Tips for Saving/Fundraising

We encourage students who are studying abroad to do as much saving up as they can before they Study Abroad. It’s understandable that students who work during school are often doing so because they need to pay for daily life and it seems impossible to save. But if the student plans far enough in advance, it is possible to make a big dent in the cost of your program. Try the following techniques...

  1. Piggybank Technique - $1 a day, $5 a week, $20 a pay check. Whatever the student is willing to set aside for their program will truly add up if they just set it aside.
  2. Website Entrepreneur Technique - In the past, students have created websites or blogs that describe their reasons for wanting to go abroad and where they wish to go. This website would also include a section for viewers to donate to your studies abroad. You can view some ideas about how to create your own fundraising blog at
  3. Gift Receiving Technique - Instead of asking for presents for Christmas, Hanukkah or your birthday, ask for money instead to be put away for the trip. 
  4. Collecting Cans Technique - Tell your friends that you can collect all of their cans/bottles for the next couple months and save up on can/bottle deposits.
  5. Craft or Goodies Sales Technique - We know of students who sold handmade bracelets, lotions, or bakery items for months who were able to save substantial money. Be creative and innovative and people are usually willing to contribute.

Additional Resources

Scholarship Search Engines

Note that this is NOT a full list of search engines! You can also do a general search online.

GVSU Study Abroad Scholarships

GVSU MyScholarships

Go Abroad Scholarships

Diversity Abroad Scholarships

PLATO Scholarships 

GVSU Resources

Padnos International Center

Schedule an Advising Appointment

Funding 101 Workshops

Reference our Scholarships at a Glance Packet

Stop into our Office!


Office of Fellowships

Explore Competitive National Study Abroad Scholarships

Contact the Fellowships Associate Director, Brenda Tooley

A representative from the Office of Fellowships, Jack, is available for walk-in advising at Padnos International Center Fridays 2:30 pm - 5 pm. If you are interested in any nationally competitive study abroad scholarships, such as the IIE Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, please stop into our office during this time or contact [email protected] for more information.


Financial Aid Office

Email [email protected] to schedule an appointment with a financial aid counselor

Email the office using the Financial Aid Email Template to request an estimate of your Aid

Contact the Financial Aid office with questions at [email protected]. In the email, include your G-number, program type, program duration and the total estimated cost of your program. Or simply visit the Financial Aid Office in 100 Student Services Building on GVSU's Allendale Campus.

Page last modified January 8, 2024