Scholarship opportunities to go abroad

You can spend an academic year abroad for free, even if you don’t know a foreign language! All U.S. students have the chance to get a scholarship.

“I get pretty disappointed at how little our Vermont kids know about their own opportunities to travel abroad themselves,” said Susan Kuegel, a dedicated local coordinator who supervises exchange students and their host families in her area. She has worked with the exchange organization Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE) for 9 years and she has been a wonderful host mother to 10 foreign sons.

“There are several amazing U.S. Department of State merit-based, full-scholarship programs available,” said Kuegel, “but few high schools seem to be aware of them and promote them among their student body.”

Where would you like to spend your academic year? With these programs, you can get a first-hand experience of living in one of 30 countries!

The most popular full-scholarship exchange programs for American high school students are CBYX, YES, FLEX, and NSLI-Y. None of them require foreign language experience and none are based on your ability to pay. You are the most important factor. These programs look for curious people who seek new experiences and are able to face a challenge like going abroad for a year on their own. They look at everyone individually, so everyone has a chance for a scholarship. You have to be yourself, fill in the application and, maybe in a year from now, you’ll be studying on the other side of the globe!

One of the most popular exchange programs is CBYX (Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange). It was initiated in 1983 to strengthen ties between Germany and the United States. Over 26,000 students have spent their academic year participating in the program. “Participants gain new perspectives on global affairs by experiencing German life while living with a host family and attending a local school for an academic year,” they said.

We also have a CBYX program participant at Harwood. Amelie Kruger is a 17-year-old senior who came to the United States from Aschaffenburg, near Frankfurt in Germany.

“If I was an American exchange student going to Germany, I would definitely visit Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg and of course Berlin, where you can see the German Bundestag and many other famous sights such as the Eastside Gallery and the Brandenburg Gate,” she said. “My favorite part of Germany is the North Sea coast with all the little islands. The culture there is also very unique.”

“Taking the first step is never easy, but CBYX helped me make it,” said Mary, another CBYX participant, on an official flyer. “It gave me the tools I needed to get myself out there and open up to the world of people, sights, and emotions. Never have I experienced something so enriching and eye-opening as being an exchange student.”

The application for this program is already open. The deadline is December 1st—there is still plenty of time to apply. You can always give it a try and see how it goes—there is nothing to lose and you can experience a journey that will change your life.

To find out more about the CBYX program, visit:

The application for YES, FLEX and NSLI-Y programs is also open. Here are the deadlines and websites to find out more about them:

  • YES (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Morocco, Philippines, Senegal, Thailand, Turkey)
  • NSLI-Y (China, Estonia, India, Jordan, Korea, Latvia, Moldova, Morocco, Oman, Russia, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and other locations around the world)

If you are not able to apply this year, you won’t lose anything. You’ll get another shot next year! Just follow their Instagram accounts and track their websites. They keep people updated about the recruitment process and how people are doing on their exchange programs that have already begun.

Hopefully, you will decide to embark on this life-changing journey that is the exchange year. Good luck!