The Texas Tech Office of International Affairs hosted a meeting concerning the financial aspects of studying abroad as part of its Study Abroad Day on Monday.
Staff members from various departments of Tech led the meeting, informing students of the financial opportunities available for studying abroad.
Wendoli Flores, director of the Office of National and International Scholarships and Fellowships (NISF), began by speaking about scholarship and loan opportunities. Flores handed out an exhaustive list of different scholarships and grants students can receive.
“There’s a lot of other scholarships out there for study abroad, but obviously we can’t have, you know, information for every single one, or I’d probably have a book for you,” Flores said.
Flores said if an individual belongs to an honor society or organization, it is likely scholarships are available.
“If you’re paying dues to them, then you’re eligible to apply for those awards,” Flores said.
Flores said a quick search on Google can bring about a number of financial opportunities for students seeking to study abroad.
“The main thing that you need to be careful about is, you do not want to provide your social security for any reason, and you do not want to pay any type of application fee,” Flores said. “Those are probably scams.”
Flores emphasized the numerous ways students can receive scholarship, grant and loan money.
“There are scholarships at your banking institutions, there are scholarships at your churches, there are scholarships all over the place that people don’t apply for because they don’t know about it,” Flores said.
Emma Smith, a study abroad counselor at the Office of International Affairs, continued to speak about scholarship opportunities available to students. Smith spoke about the Study Abroad Competitive Scholarship, a scholarship funded by the International Education Fee students pay as part of their tuition each semester. She said the application is electronic, but individuals are required to bring a copy of their Tech transcripts in person.
“The whole application is online, you don’t need to print anything, your recommenders don’t need to give you an official paper letter, everything is gonna be online,” Smith said. “The only thing that is in person is the transcript.”
Smith said two letters of recommendation are required for the scholarship and one must be from a Tech professor. She said selecting one’s recommenders carefully is important and to exclude people such as friends, family and significant others.
Nikki Nordell, a financial aid adviser, spoke after Smith. Nordell emphasized the importance of seeking out scholarships.
“Definitely start first with the scholarships, because free money is always going to be better than something that you have to pay back,” Nordell said.
Nordell said any aid an individual receives from FAFSA can be used for studying abroad, provided he or she meets the academic hour requirements.
In the summer you do have to be taking at least six credit hours to be eligible for your financial aid,” Nordell said. “So if you have picked a study abroad program that’s already six hours then you’re good to go.”
Nordell outlined grants, loans and funds that are available to students. She said it is important to regularly check one’s email when applying for funding.
“Make sure you’re checking your Texas Tech email, that’s where we're gonna send you information if we need anything from you,” Nordell said.
Dante Agbontaen, a senior from Houston majoring in mechanical engineering, closed the meeting by presenting a video of his study abroad experiences in Spain and Argentina.
In an interview after the meeting, Agbontaen said studying abroad helped him to increase his job opportunities.
“I feel like my international experience demonstrated that I was willing to take the initiative to step out of my comfort zone,” Agbontaen said.
Agbontaen said his study abroad experiences have increased his interest in international travel.
“I definitely look forward to, you know, just going around the world,” Agbontaen said. “Whether it’s working or vacations, just taking in different perspectives and learning about other people’s cultures and their customs.”
Agbontaen said the most important thing students interested in studying abroad can do is to be proactive.
“Just be curious,” Agbontaen said. “The biggest thing is just to step outside of your comfort zone.”