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Choosing to do an ARCC Gap Semester is a big decision and we’re glad you’re considering us!  The semester you take with us is no doubt going to be a life changing one full of new cultures, friends, experiences and accomplishments.  As you prepare, something we don’t want you to be discouraged by is the price tag that accompanies a Gap Semester.

It’s going to take some hard work, persistence and creative thinking, but you can raise the funds you need to take what will undoubtedly be the best semester or year of your life. Typically students fund their Gap Semesters through a mixture of working, fundraising and asking for scholarships. We find that students who contribute financially to their Gap Year experience are some of our most successful students, taking ownership and bringing a commitment to make their Gap experience the best it can be.

We are always here to help with suggestions, ideas and to help you come up with the best fundraising campaign you can. Here are just a few options to help get you started:

Scholarships and Grants:

    • Start at school.  Go to your college or guidance counselor and see what scholarships are available to graduating seniors.  There may also be options for students taking a Gap Semester or scholarships willing to consider Gap Semester students as well.  Keep checking in.
    • Have you applied to college and want to defer?  Check with your college about scholarships available to incoming freshman.  The study abroad or global education office is also a great place to check for any additional funds.

See below for a list of great options to pursue:

    • The Pollination Project gives $1,000 startup grants to individual change makers and projects that promote compassion around the world.
    • The Foundation for Global Scholars is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Denver, Colorado whose mission is to create global citizens and leaders by assisting students in achieving their personal and professional goals of obtaining cultural and academic experiences abroad. The Foundation will support this mission by awarding scholarships to help enable students to obtain an international experience. Students who are from underrepresented populations in international education are a priority.
    • The Brower Youth Award recognizes the work of six young leaders each year who are making strides in the environmental movement. Brower Youth Award winners demonstrate excellent leadership as well as a commitment to the communities their work serves.
    • The Test Drive Your Future Gap Year scholarship aims to award students who want to “test drive” their future choices through a gap year experience.  You will need to read the book “Test Drive Your Future” and complete an essay to qualify.
    • LIVFund was established in 2011 in order to recognize and proudly support study, internship and volunteer opportunities in Latin America. LIVFund has been designed for anyone who wants to learn, intern or volunteer [LIV] in Latin America and is seeking financial assistance in order to offset program or living abroad expenses. Their goal is to help others get the most out of their experience abroad… Maximum Award: $500.00 Eligibility: Anyone the age of 18 or older. Deadline: On going, you can apply up to six months prior to going abroad.
    • The newly established Fund for Education Abroad (FEA) was created in order to open doors for deserving education abroad students. Starting with the 2011-2012 academic year, FEA will award funds for students planning to study abroad on any academically rigorous programs. Designed by the FEA Advisory Board, FEA scholarships are intended to meet the financial needs of students who might not be eligible for government grants or existing funds limited to specific programs or groups of students.
    • Goabroad.com is a leading provider of information for study abroad and has its own study abroad scholarship database.
    • http://www.iie.org/programs/freeman-asia:Freeman Awards for Study in Asia (Freeman-ASIA) provides scholarships for U.S. undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need to study abroad in East or Southeast Asia.
    • Davidson Fellows Scholarship: The Davidson Fellows Scholarship awards $50,000, $25,000 and $10,000 scholarships to extraordinary young people, 18 and under, who have completed a significant piece of work. Application categories are Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Literature, Music, Philosophy and Outside the Box.
    • www.hiusa.org: Hostelling International are offering eighty-one (81) $2,000 travel scholarships in 14 locations. Applicants need to be 18 at the time of travel.
    • www.fundforeducationabroad.org. Requires university credit. Fund for Education Abroad. The newly established Fund for Education Abroad (FEA) was created in order to open doors for deserving education abroad students. Starting with the 2011-2012 academic year, FEA will award funds for students planning to study abroad on any academically rigorous programs. Designed by the FEA Advisory Board, FEA scholarships are intended to meet the financial needs of students who might not be eligible for government grants or existing funds limited to specific programs or groups of students.

Websites:

    • FundMyTravel is an online crowdfunding platform specifically developed to suit the needs of individuals desiring to study or volunteer abroad which provides tools and resources to host online fundraisers.
    • FastWeb is a Scholarship search engine where users can create a profile and have access to all sorts of scholarships.  You can even receive daily email alerts.
    • www.nelnet.com: Financing site with scholarship search as well as education planning.
    • www.internationalscholarships.com: The International Scholarship Search is the premier financial aid, college scholarship and international scholarship resource for students wishing to study abroad

Using your local resources & contacts: Letter Writing Campaigns and more:

Start at home. Your closest resources of funding are family, friends and community members, and using those resources is one of the easiest ways to raise several thousand dollars.  Drafting a letter that specifically states your goals for choosing a Gap Semester and sending it to personal contacts as well as community organizations, such as Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Elks, Knights of Columbus, Circle K and Junior League can go a long way in helping you raise the funds you need for your gap year. Reaching out to newspapers, radio shows, and through social media can be a great way to spread the word.

    • Part One: Create Your Mailing List. You can start with family and friends, but be sure to include everyone.  Utilize your resources and reach out to anyone you can.  Suggestions include: Friends of your parents. Members of any religious group you belong to. Professional acquaintances of both you and your parents. Known donors at your school. Your friends’ parents. Members of social, charitable or professional organizations in your community. Be sure to start formulating your list as soon as possible and don’t be afraid to ask.  A Gap Semester is a truly rewarding experience and if you express that in your letter, people will more than likely want to help you achieve your goal.
    • Part Two: Writing your Letter or Email . The most important thing to remember when writing your letter is to keep it concise.  Make your point in a persuasive and emotional way. Be sure to: Describe ARCC to your donors. Explain the personal reasons you want to go on an ARCC Gap Semester. What you hope to gain from your ARCC experience. Emphasize what you will learn and accomplish on this program.
    • Keep the letter simple and to the point.  Reach out to your donors on a personal level and avoid using data or facts.  Share your enthusiasm and drive for choosing a Gap Semester and what projects ARCC participates in, but avoid sounding preachy.  Don’t be afraid to ask for a specific dollar amount to help ensure you will reach your goal and be sure to tell them how to contribute, ie. Having contributions sent directly to you.
    • Part Three: Follow up with your donors.  If you don’t hear from them after a couple of weeks, follow up with an email.  Do they need more convincing?  Ask if they want to meet so you can talk to them in person more about the program.  Be prepared to answer questions about ARCC and the program.  Some people may not be able to contribute financially.  Be sure to thank them anyways as they may still be supportive of your goals even if they can’t contribute.
    • Part Four: Send Thank-You’s and Updates throughout your Journey. This is probably the most important step.  Be sure to send a personal thank you note to everyone who contributes to your fundraising goal.  Sending a handwritten note immediately upon receipt of a donation shows your donor that you are grateful and appreciative of their contribution.  This is also great opportunity for you to let donors know how they can follow you on your journey.  If you plan on keeping a blog, give them the address.  In addition, you may want to send all your donors a letter upon your return letting them know about your experience, the impact it had on you and how grateful you are for their contributions as it helped make your program possible.
    • When reaching out to local clubs, organizations, businesses, radio shows, newspapers, be prepared to give a presentation or write an essay.  Be sure to follow up with phone calls or emails until you hear back from someone.  If you have to give a presentation, make sure you’re prepared, you practice and make it personal.  Much like personal donations, always send a thank you and let them know how much you appreciate the opportunity to present your goals to the group.
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