Then I was accepted as a semi-finalist to YES Abroad and got to go to the IPSE in Denver, which was an amazing experience in itself. About three weeks later, I was accepted to Indonesia!!
I just got to check my email after an afternoon out with my friends, and unfortunately I was rejected from NSLI-Y. But, again, no bad feelings - I'd go with YES no matter what! I love the sense of community and emphasis on culture YES Abroad has to offer, and besides... how many people get to say they studied abroad for a year in INDONESIA???
Anyway, I'd like to take a second to list all the scholarships and programs future outbounds should explore. If there are any wrong facts or biases in here, please excuse me. In fact, take this all with a grain of salt and remember to DO YOUR RESEARCH before choosing scholarships and making assumptions! A really great place to start is Cultures Shocked. Trust me... I've spent a lot of time reading threads there. ;)
CBYX, or Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange, sends American students to Germany, and vice-versa. Five different organizations (AFS, YFU, ASSE, CIEE, and one more that I can't remember at the moment :P) take applicants from a certain area and handle their applications and interviews. CBYX doesn't pay for airfare to your domestic gateway, and no stipends are given either. But everything else (international airfare, tuition, cultural excursions, insurance) are paid for. It's an AMAZING opportunity to see Germany and Europe! Learn more about CBYX
NSLI-Y, or National Security Language Initiative for Youth, is a program that focuses mainly on learning languages that the US Government finds most useful. Those are Arabic, Chinese, Turkish, Hindi, Russian, and Persian. There are summer and year programs which you can apply for, and EVERYTHING is paid for, including domestic airfare and all your classes. There are generally a lot more spots for summer programs, but those are also the most competitive - in fact, NSLI-Y in general is a very competitive program. Learn more about NSLI-Y
And finally... YES Abroad, the program that has brought me the opportunity of a lifetime... to study abroad in a Muslim country! That's the focus of YES Abroad - to send students to spend a year as cultural ambassadors in Ghana, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey, Oman, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Morocco, and India. If you're selected as a semi-finalist, you get to spend 3 days in Denver to do interviews and group evaluations; if you're a Finalist, you get to go to a Pre-Departure Orientation in Washington, DC and then to your country - completely for FREE. I'll be making a full post about YES Abroad later, so stay tuned! Learn more about YES Abroad
Those three are the big, main scholarships which are sponsored by the US State Department and have no fees whatsoever to apply. There are also plenty of scholarships through individual organizations that are well worth checking out! I'll link to all of the ones I know of here, and offer a little description.
ASSE - there are a couple of 90-100% scholarships available, but generally ASSE is cheaper than AFS, YFU, and other organizations.
AFS - AFS doesn't offer many full-ride scholarships on their own, but there are lots of partials, and they implement some of NSLI-Y, YES, and CBYX programs.
YFU - YFU offers some full ride scholarships and a lot of partial. They also have a unique program called the Art Year, which is like an exchange - you go to school, have a host family, and etc. But you also get to participate in the arts like music, visual arts, dance and more! It's definitely worth checking out.
CIEE - Unfortunately, I'm not very familiar with CIEE, but it looks like they have a couple of scholarships available!
If you're looking for a Gap Year abroad, there are also non-exchange opportunities that could come cheap, like being an au pair, doing Workaway, and MANY many more. That's something I might talk about later, but they're worth looking up on Google or CS. Go crazy! :)