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Full Scholarships for High School Study Abroad

Article and photos by Connie Ip

Studying Arabic in Egypt in high school with AFS, sitting between two other young male students, with the Pyramids of Giza in the background.
The author (center) in Egypt while on the AFS an program with the Pyramids of Giza in the background.

Benefits of Studying Abroad As a High School Student

When I was in high school, I participated in three exchange programs. The summer after my sophomore year, I traveled to Thailand through AFS Intercultural Programs. There, I spent two months studying at a Thai high school and volunteering as an English teaching assistant while gaining cultural immersion by living with a local family. The following year, I went to Egypt and again studied Arabic through an AFS program. Shortly after my experience in Egypt, I began another study abroad program in Germany, where I enrolled in a German high school and learned German.

Having studied abroad a few times during high school, studying in a different country, living and observing a foreign culture, and learning a new language allows you to gain self-confidence and awareness. Whether considering spending a summer, semester, or year overseas, the study abroad experience provides ample opportunities to take risks, try new things (ranging from food to social situations), and leave your comfort zone. It can be challenging and can be downright frustrating. Nevertheless, the experience is enriching as it eases the transition from adolescence to adulthood, enabling you to develop communication and problem-solving skills and mature intellectually and emotionally.

Author in Thailand working as a teaching assistant with students at a classroom table.
The author (left) working in Thailand as a teaching assistant with students.

Financing an International Exchange

Exchange programs have a heavy price tag and can cost thousands of dollars. Most students and parents reject studying abroad because they think they cannot finance the venture. Fortunately, several competitive full scholarships are available that allow students to participate in international exchanges. To support my interest in studying abroad, I thoroughly researched possibilities for funding. I found several scholarships and prepared applications for them. Ultimately, I won the scholarships and did not have to pay a dime to go abroad each time. I have compiled a list below of fully funded scholarships (including a couple that made it possible for me to go overseas) designed for bright and motivated high school students who wish to study abroad.


AFS Global STEM Academies

  • The AFS Global STEM Academies Scholarship program is co-sponsored with AFS Intercultural Programs, one of the oldest international high school exchange organizations founded in 1915. The scholarship provides financially challenged students the opportunity to get a full scholarship to study abroad for the summer in Brazil, Egypt, and the U.S. and develop the skills needed to succeed in a global economy. The program aims to develop in-demand STEM skills in academies conducive to learning and intercultural experience. In addition to learning a variety of engineering and sustainable technology skills, those selected for the scholarship will experience immersion in the local language and culture and spend time with local people.

Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) Program

  • Sponsored by the U.S. Congress and the German Bundestag, CBYX American students are allowed to live and study abroad in Germany for an academic year. Scholarship recipients serve as youth ambassadors of the United States by sharing their lives and cultures with their German hosts and building a greater international understanding of the United States. To apply for the CBYX Scholarship, you must fulfill the following requirements: be between the ages of 15 and 18, be a U.S. citizen, national or permanent resident, and possess at least a 3.0 GPA.

National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y)

  • The National Security Language Initiative for Youth program is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. It is part of a government-wide presidential initiative that aims to prepare Americans to be leaders in a global world, promote international dialogue, and attain a better understanding of global cultures and issues. The U.S. Department of State awards scholarships each year. To qualify for a scholarship, you must be between the ages of 15-18, a U.S. citizen, and have a minimum 2.5 GPA.

Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Abroad Program

  • Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, YES Abroad allows students to study in countries with significant Muslim populations for up to one year. Participants in the program can study in the following countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mali, Morocco, Oman, Thailand, and Turkey. To be eligible for the program, you must be between the ages of 15-18, a high school student, and a U.S. citizen.

High School Scholarships

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A High School Summer in Egypt Studying Arabic

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