When children ask their parents about a class trip to Washington, D.C. or  even a more exotic location like Costa Rica and Thailand, the first question is whether they are old enough to go without their folks. The next question: can the family afford it? These school trips can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000. Summer trips cost up to $9,000, and one-year study abroad programs cost up to $15,000.

This can mean monthly payments of up to $900. And that cost doesn’t always cover flights, traveler’s insurance, needed visas if staying for a long period, and, most importantly, spending money. International flights can range from $2,000 to 3,000 for coach! For most parents, a trip like this seems unaffordable. But here’s the good news: There are several options that cover most or nearly all of the above costs.

Foreign language emphasis

There are several government-funded study abroad programs for summer and one-year programs. My personal favorite is National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y), offering summer and one-year language and culture programs for those interested in studying Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Korean, Persian (Tajik), Russian or Turkish.

These programs are for those ages 15 to 18 that want to learn a foreign language. The summer courses offer 120-plus hours of language study and more. The great thing about this program is that the only costs are for a passport, needed immunizations, spending money and doctor’s examination. Insurance and domestic/international flight are covered completely!

American-Muslim/cultural education

Children interested in a career as a foreign dignitary should consider joining the Kennedy-Lugar YES Abroad Program. Children in this program are placed in countries such as South Africa, Egypt, Thailand, Tunisia, India and others. These countries have a significant Muslim population, and the purpose of this full tuition government-sponsored scholarship is to further American-Muslim bonds. Please see the application for further details. Placement in the country is not up to the student, but they can list preferences.

German emphasis

Children interested in learning German or becoming a foreign dignitary should consider the U.S. Department of Cultural Exchange, which offers several full scholarship one-year programs with no prior language experience. Students must be between 15 and 18 at the start of the program and will be attending an accredited German school.

Study abroad programs are an advantage when the time comes to apply for college admission. Many students may visit a country for a week, but fewer actually study there for a summer or a year. These programs make wonderful essays for college applications and also for international college admissions.

This is a guest post by Juliana from Ashburnham, MA
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