This is part 2 in a series of posts offering advice to American undergraduate students interested in studying abroad in Japan.
Before you go to Japan—and before you even submit your study abroad application—be aware that there are a wide variety of funding options available to you. Obviously, any personal funds you might have will be a great asset to you, but we don’t all come from great financial privilege (myself most definitely included). The great news is that there are a number of institutions in America and Japan that want to help students study abroad. Some are need-based and some are based on academic excellence. Though I spent more due to my sightseeing and other activities—and Tokyo is a more expensive city than most—in terms of assistance I received from institutions and sources, it was definitely my least expensive year of schooling. This is a partial list of resources available to American students going to Japan. The information may be beneficial to people studying in other parts of Asia or the world, too.
Most of these are primarily directed at undergraduate students, though some also support graduate study. Graduate students also have many other options available, including short-term travel grants.
- The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is a great program, offering a generous one-time contribution to your expenses. I was fortunate enough to receive this and so were several of my friends in Japan. Upon receiving it, it requires the completion of a service project, usually oriented to promoting study abroad.
- The Freeman-ASIA is much like the Gilman, and I think it might be more need-based. If you’re going to Asia for any length of time, be sure to look into this one.
- Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship Not every university offers this, but many with strong Asian studies programs do. It is sponsored by the State Department but administered at the institution level. As it is designed to promote the study of critical foreign languages, it is actually primarily intended for local study of foreign languages, but study abroad programs may be approved (mine was). You’ll be required to take language classes while receiving that, but you probably were planning to already.
- Your school likely offers aid in the form of grants and scholarships either through your department or through your learning abroad office. Your learning abroad advisors might also be able to point you in the direction of local or national scholarships that might benefit you.
- JASSO (Japan Student Services Organization) is a very generous Japanese program run through the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology. Part of its mission is funding international students in Japan. Several international students I knew in Japan received this. My advisor at my university helped me apply for it.
- The Boren Awards for International Study is another State Department program that is ideal for people interested in working with the government. It requires that after graduation, its recipients seek work with the U.S. government for a period of time.
- The Institute of International Education website can point you in the direction of many other programs.