How to Pay for Your CIEE High School Summer Abroad

Girl wearing shorts and t-shirt sitting in a field

Maybe you’ve been feeling like you’re too big for your hometown these days. Maybe you’re looking to stretch your legs and show your family just how independent you can be. Maybe you’re looking for a boost on your college applications. Or maybe you’ve just been so inspired by all the new content on Netflix you binged on over winter and you just have to see some of those places for yourself. The point is, you’ve got all the good reasons, and you’ve narrowed it down to a CIEE summer abroad high school program. Now there’s only one minor detail standing in your way…

Woman wearing denim jacket holding stack of books
An algebra final? The big game? PROM? All of the above? Before you embark on a CIEE summer abroad, there’s more than a few things you might have to address.

Money. And your parents just can’t stop reminding you of it, right? But you’re plucky—you wouldn’t have gotten this far if you weren’t—so you’ve got this. Roll up your sleeves. Get creative. Keep your eyes on your shiny, happy CIEE summer abroad. And when wishing it were so isn’t quite enough, here are a few more tips for getting your young financial life in order so that you can fund your CIEE high school summer abroad.

7 ways to pay for your CIEE high school summer abroad

1. Know just how much this is going to set you back

If you haven’t already been in touch with the staff at your CIEE study abroad high school program, now’s the time. Set up an account ASAP so that you can talk to someone about your plans, apply for the program of your choosing, and start gathering all the information you’ll need to build your budget. What is the program fee for the CIEE summer abroad program you’ve selected? What does that include? Do you have a valid passport or will you need to get one? Does your destination require a visa? And how much does that cost?

Find out if you’ll have to pay your own airfare and what the cost of the ticket will be. Remember—this can fluctuate, so give yourself some wiggle room! Finally, build in plenty of spending money for things you’ll want or need while you’re away: new clothes, ice cream cravings, souvenirs so your friends and family back home don’t think you forgot about them, etc. Do your homework about the exchange rate for the currency in your destination and how much the things you’ll need will cost you for the time you’re away. Be generous in your calculations so that you set your fundraising goal high. It will be better to come home from your CIEE high school summer abroad with some extra cash than it will be to come up short.

Airplane flying across blue sky
We flyin’ first class up in the sky? ….Cool your jets, you’re not that glamorous (yet). Start pinching pennies for that CIEE summer abroad.

2. Work work work work work work

We know, we know, how boring—but it’s never a bad idea to start building your resume with some real, live work experience. And work is probably the most straightforward way on this list to make sure you’ve got enough dollars in your pocket to last your whole CIEE summer abroad (or pesos or yuan or whatever it is you’ll be needing where you’re headed). In addition to an hourly job like waiting tables or lifeguarding, think about other odd jobs you could pick up in your free time. Babysitting. Lawn mowing. Painting your grandparents’ spare bedroom (don’t laugh, some of us totally did that). You might be surprised how many jobs people are willing to pay you for when they realize you’re motivated by a worthy educational experience, so don’t forget to spread the word that you’re looking for work to help fund your CIEE study abroad high school experience.

3. Be a more thoughtful consumer

Every pair of sneakers you pass on for now brings you one step closer to the even-more-amazing shoes you’ll see everyone wearing as they pass you on the streets in the super-cool city where you’ll be for your CIEE summer abroad high school program. While you’re readying yourself for this big adventure, being more careful about how you spend your money will help build up your financial reserves. Making do with less and avoiding fast fashion and rampant consumerism in general are also good ways to get you thinking about your place in the world and your impact on the planet—all things that your CIEE summer abroad will probably make you even more aware of. Why not start your incredible path of growth and self discover before departure?

Woman picking out clothes from a clothes rack
Listen to us carefully: put the cute crop top back on the rack and back away slowly. A CIEE high school summer abroad is worth so much more.

4. The fundraising magic of tidying up

And while we’re on the topic of things you really need, there are probably a whole bunch of things in your room that you don’t really need. Hold each one in your hands and ask yourself if it will still be sparking joy months from now when you’ve returned from CIEE high school summer abroad a changed person. Consider selling anything you think you’ve outgrown or could do without in a yard sale or at a local consignment shop. But be careful! Check with a parent or guardian for help if you plan to list things for sale online or through an app. You don’t want to get scammed or give out your personal information to strangers. And no selling anything that belongs to your little brother without checking with him first.

5. Scholarships are your friend

CIEE summer abroad high school programs come with scholarship opportunities for students with financial need. They also give out scholarships based on academic merit only. Make sure you apply for these internal scholarships along with your program application. In addition, check with your high school counselor, any groups you’re involved in (e.g., Girl Scouts, Key Club), and local civic or community organizations, especially groups that might have a cultural tie to your destination (e.g., the Italian American Society, the Cuban American Club, etc.), for other opportunities. Just because you haven’t heard about them, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Scour the internet, but don’t underestimate word of mouth. Consider asking your aunts, uncles, and neighbors to activate their networks to help find sources of financial support.

6. Check the couch cushions

No, we’re not really that serious, but between the sofa, all of your coat pockets, and the cupholders in your car, you might just find enough to treat your family to a farewell pizza. Plus, wouldn’t it be nice to leave things clean and sparkly to remember you by while you’re away?

Mason jars full of fruit lined up in a row with silly straws
And if all else fails, don’t underestimate the merits of a good ol’ fashioned lemonade stand.

7. Make a FundMyTravel account and get to crowdsourcing

FundMyTravel makes it easy for you to create a home on the web for all of your CIEE high school summer abroad fundraising efforts. Tell your story of where you’re going and why. Explain to people what makes you special and worthy of this opportunity. Be transparent. Be thoughtful. It probably doesn’t hurt to be at least a little bit funny! FundMyTravel makes it easy to share your campaign on social media and via email, which in turn can be shared by your friends and family to other people in your network. All money contributed goes directly to your account right away—even if you don’t hit your goal—so dream big. FundMyTravel does keep a small percentage to keep their site running, but donors you know well who want to avoid those fees can still contribute to you offline. Your account includes a tool for tracking your offline donations so that you can keep tally of your fundraising progress all in one place no matter how the money is rolling in.

High school summer abroad is going to be your best break ever. Period.

Women walking on the beach holding hands
The beach is a cool place to spend your summers, but you know what’s cooler? A summer abroad with CIEE.

With all that money in your account, your CIEE summer abroad high school program will be paid for in no time and you should even have a little left over for fun. Don’t forget to complete all the non-financial steps you’ll need to be thinking about before you go so that you can show up safe and on-time to the summer learning experience you’ve been working oh-so-hard for. And hug all your loved ones extra tight before you go!

That wasn’t too hard, was it? The fact is, even if all the penny pinching and the extra homework this process has generated for you does feel a bit tiring at times, it will be so worth it. A year from now, when you’re back home from your CIEE high school summer abroad and reflecting on how epically life-changing the whole experience was, you probably won’t remember the hard parts. With each passing year you will grow and learn and you’ll realize how you’ve been shaped by the good times and the bad that your CIEE summer abroad threw at you. And with that, the more tedious details of how you got that cash-money will just fade into the background of your memory.

Don’t Waste Another Second—Start Fundraising Online for Your CIEE Summer Abroad

amelia dietrichThis article was written by Amelia Dietrich. Amelia’s day job keeps her busy helping study abroad professionals grow and improve their professional practice in order to help college students have safe, high-quality educational experiences abroad. When work travel isn’t enough, Latin America is her destination of choice thanks to a past life as a Spanish teacher and bilingualism researcher.

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