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February 19, 2019

Got a taste for travel? Scholarships can put studying abroad on the menu.

Craving a semester with more of an international flavor but lacking the funds to make it happen? You could work around 700 hours at your day job to save up enough to cover the expense—or cut your effort down to around 40 hours by applying for scholarships.

Hey, time is money. A little extra effort on each application plus polishing your essay writing skills could mean the difference between the same ol’ same ol’ at home or a spicy trip overseas.

Take it from JCCC student Jonathan Rabanal.

A ticket to Japan

“Students who study abroad can’t stop talking about it. We want to help you find money to go! Janette Jasperson, Coordinator for International Education

Jonathan spent his childhood in Hawaii, immersed in a culturally diverse circle of family and friends. He became fascinated with Japanese culture early on, learning the language and the nuances of the nationality on his own.

He was determined to at least visit Japan. JCCC provided a path to help make his dream come true.

Jonathan researched all the study-aboard scholarships available and narrowed it down to six. Then he scrutinized and fine-tuned each application to ensure he was meeting the specific qualifications they required. 

It took work. It took effort. When the dust cleared, he had earned scholarships through the Gilman Foundation, the U.S. State Department, JCCC Foundation and J. F. Oberlin University in Japan.

“I applied for as many scholarships as I could in hopes of getting a fully funded trip,” he said. “I had no idea it would work as well as it did.” 

In fact, he earned enough in scholarships to completely cover his tuition, books, travel and living expenses during his Study Abroad experience. He even had to turn down the Freeman-Asia scholarship because he no longer had financial need.

Help when you need it

Jonathan credits his success in part to the help he received from JCCC’s and Janette Jasperson, Coordinator for International Education. All are equipped to guide you through the process and show you where the money is.

“We can first help you find the right scholarships to apply for, then hone your application answers and help you put the final polish on your essay,” Jasperson said.

There’s no tried-and-true formula, but you can use this tips to get started:

  1. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  2. Fill out one application through JCCC’s Foundation. Your information is plugged into hundreds of scholarships. Then watch your student email account for additional scholarship opportunities and notifications from Financial Aid.
  3. Keep your GPA up. Most Study Abroad programs require a cumulative 2.5 GPA but some require a 3.0 GPA.
  1. Play to your strengths. Apply for scholarships you have the best chance of winning.
  2. Write an exceptional essay that shows who you are and follows the questions asked. You will need to devote time and energy on each essay, but you can sometimes reuse paragraphs or simply rewrite others to fit specific criteria.
  3. Pay attention to the details. Fill out each individual form to fit the criteria.
  4. Submit your applications on time or early.

Several scholarships are a nationwide competition, but some give extra weight to community college students.

Not just for straight-A students

Although you want to strive to do your best in class, there’s far more to learning than grades.

“Spending class and leisure time abroad can help you fulfill your academic goals, and being exposed to a foreign language and a whole new environment can be a life-changing experience,” Jasperson added.

If you have a 3.2 GPA and are a Johnson County high school or homeschool student, you might already be qualified to receive JCCC’s CavGuarantee scholarship ($500).

“Students who apply and have at least a 3.2 GPA have a good chance of getting a $500 to $1,000 Study Abroad award from our JCCC Foundation,” said Jasperson. “There’s even some funds available for degree-seeking students with a 2.3 GPA.”

Find money, pick a country and start packing!

The more money you receive in scholarships, the less you’ll need to pay back in loans (with interest). You might even have extra to spend on excursions, exotic food and fun finds.

Email Jasperson or call 913-469-8500, ext. 3470. To chat in person, stop by COM 220. And don’t forget to apply for your passport!