Skip to main content

There is perhaps no better time in all of human history to be a young, active, eager student than right now. Why? With the internet, a globalized learning environment, various exchange program opportunities, and travel methods that can get you to the other side of the world in 24 hours, there are literally thousands of opportunities for interested students to travel and study abroad.

However, traveling and studying abroad can be expensive, even if you just intend to stay for a short time. Thankfully, there are plenty of travel scholarships available for students willing to put in the work and apply.

So how can a high school student win travel scholarships to study abroad? Winning a student scholarship or travel grant requires maturity, patience, and perseverance. It’s all about putting in the legwork to send in applications, proving that you as a student are deserving of a scholarship or grant, and defining your goals and interests to create the best applications possible.

In this article we discuss everything you need to know about high school travel grants, where to find them, and our best tips on winning them. Follow our advice and you will be studying abroad in no time.

What is a High School Travel Scholarship?

A high school travel scholarship (also known as a high school travel grant) is something that many high schoolers and their parents are unaware of, but these do actually exist. These scholarships are granted to high school students who actively seek to expand their cultural and global education, providing them the resources and program necessary to help them travel for scholarly pursuits.

Various organizations, both domestic and municipal, offer some forms of travel scholarships. These scholarships allow students to fund any potential school or subject international travel opportunities, opening doors for students who would otherwise find themselves unable to pay for the travel costs.

In some cases, students might be required to participate in volunteer work or other study-related stipulations as requirements for their scholarship. However, these are generally well within the capability of students who are eager to seek out new opportunities abroad.

Why Should You Travel During High School?

While some students are more than happy to spend their four years of high school simply going to class and getting good grades, other students understand the importance of seeking out greater opportunities at a young age.

There are many reasons why a high school student should consider applying for a high school scholarship or student travel grant, even if it means being away from home for a few months or up to a year. Some of these reasons include:

  • The chance to immerse yourself in a language study program in foreign countries, truly learning it in a way that is impossible in an hour-long class
  • Open your eyes to a completely new culture, giving yourself a grander scale of the world and its different peoples
  • Expand your personal network to connections in other countries, allowing yourself to become more confident, independent, and understanding of other people

All these qualities and more can help any high school student in their college years and beyond. Not only that, but colleges and universities typically seek out students who have proven to possess a curiosity or eagerness above their peers. Putting yourself out there and going abroad for even a short-term travel opportunity is exactly the kind of point on a college application that can make you stand out.

Where Can I Apply for a High School Travel Scholarship?

Your best bet for finding high school travel scholarships is to speak to your school’s administration such as the guidance counselor, to ask if there are any local scholarships or contest program opportunities, or any history of students from your school being awarded a scholarship or grant.

When researching for travel scholarships, remember to start with any specific interests, subjects, or talents you might have, to find scholarships that are most relevant to you as a student, thus increasing your chances of it being granted to you.

For example, if you play a musical instrument, you might be able to find a scholarship that is aimed towards musically-inclined students; if you are a member of your school’s Model United Nations program, you might find travel scholarships awarded specifically to MUN participants.

Here are a few general providers of high school travel scholarships available for all high school students within the United States. Remember that every scholarship and grant is different, with its own stipulations, requirements, and monetary size.


The SYTA or the Student Youth Travel Association Foundation is all about helping American high school students develop a greater sense of global awareness. This organization awards hundreds of $1000 scholarships to deserving high school students every year to help them join school travel trips and educational tours.

You can find further details on applying for the SYTA Youth Foundation Road Scholarship here.

2) Rotary International

The Rotary International Club offers one of the biggest travel scholarships out there, with funding programs that grant up to $25,000 for students who need financial aid for international study, paying for tuition costs, room and board, and a monthly stipend for the student’s convenience.

Students are expected to act as ambassadors of their home culture, to share and spread awareness of their culture to their chosen area for travel or study abroad. Thousands of students have benefited from the Rotary Club’s private funding programs, which are awarded through local Rotary branches. Read more about these scholarships here.


The CIEE or the Council on International Education Exchange offers students the opportunity to earn up to $3000 in grants for international study. They offer a unique opportunity with the CIEE campuses, which are partnered schools and communities that offer the CIEE study abroad experience.

CIEE offers various programs in different countries centered around different subjects and interests, such as the Arts & Sciences program in Seoul, the Global Architecture & Design program in Berlin, the Sustainability & the Environment program in Monteverde, and so many more. Find more information on CIEE’s high school and college study abroad scholarships here.

4) Travelocity

Travelocity offers travel opportunities to students who are willing to volunteer, coining the term “voluntourism”. Through their “Travel for Good” program, Travelocity connects students and adults with volunteer opportunities across the country’s favorite destinations – New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Nashville, and more.

These volunteer opportunities vary from helping dogs at a local shelter to packing lunches for the needy. While not exclusively aimed at students, Travelocity is still a great way for interested learners of all ages to experience traveling across the country while helping local communities.

5) DonorsChoose

For all the teachers out there trying to find ways to help their students, DonorsChoose is an awesome resource to get the help you and your students need. DonorsChoose is a platform that connects teachers with potential financial donors – whether individuals or businesses – who are interested in providing financial aid for certain circumstances.

With a proper proposal describing a fun and engaging travel opportunity for their students, any teacher can earn the attention of an eager financial donor willing to help a class of students realize their high school travel dreams.

Top Tips on Applying and Winning High School Travel Scholarships

happy young traveler winter backgroundAfter you draft up a list of all the potential sources of scholarships and grants, it’s time to send in your applications. But how do you make sure that your application stands out from the dozens, hundreds, or thousands of applications they have to choose from? How can you give your application that extra oomph to earn the travel grant?

We’ve prepared the top tips for applying and winning travel scholarships. But our main tip? Take it seriously. Too many students send in applications that they wrote in an hour or a day, with no extra thought or even a simple proofread.

Remember: this isn’t just a pop quiz to finish before the end of class. Your application will determine whether someone believes you are worth an investment or not. Take yourself seriously, and make it as professional as it can be. Here are our other top tips you can follow:

1) Know What You Want

Every application will ask for something different. One application might ask you a single question about your main interests; another application might make you write five different essays on your goals, your dreams, your intentions, and more.

Questions like these need a level of honesty that you normally never have to open. And in some cases, answering them truthfully requires a kind of self-intimacy that some people have never really tried to access. These are the kinds of questions that require you to look into yourself and answer from the heart.

Why? Because the only way to stand out is to answer in a way that is uniquely you, and that means coming up with not your first, not your second, and perhaps not even your third thought, but the thoughts that only come to the surface when you truly sit down and let yourself think.

So you have to know what you want. Before you start answering these questions, understand yourself and figure out yourself in a way you might have never bothered to before. It might take some time, and it might lead to some frustration. That’s okay – just don’t be impatient, and sooner or later, you will have the answers that no one else can provide.

2) Outline, Budget, and Plan

There is nothing an adult will approve of in a high school student more than preparedness, because frankly (we’ve all been there), kids like winging things, or just dealing with the bridge when they get there.

A great tip we have is to include a specific outline, estimated budget, and possible plan of your trip, and attach it to your application if possible. If you are applying for a $5000 grant, then you should show that you will actually use the $5000 effectively. Figure out:

  • How long your trip will be (a few days, two weeks, a few months, an entire semester)
  • How much it will cost (room and board, daily living expenses, language study costs)
  • Any other expenses or details relevant to your trip

Once you have your outline written down, with the budget laid out and divvied up effectively across the entirety of your trip, you have something in your hands that you can present as your actual case. Instead of looking like a hopeful student, you can look like a prepared one – and which of the two would you think is a more attractive recipient of a scholarship?

3) Apply, Apply, Apply

We get it – there is nothing more disappointing than getting back a rejection letter from your top choice. But you need to think of scholarships as a game of attrition: only the very lucky few get it on their first try. For the vast majority, the best strategy is to apply, apply, and apply.

Keep at it, and don’t let a single rejection or even a dozen rejections stop you. Make a master spreadsheet that can help you keep track of all your scholarships, showing information on the provider of the scholarship, prize money details, the requirements, the deadlines, and other relevant information. These can be organized according to priority, deadlines, or size of the scholarship.

And if you don’t get it this year, don’t lose hope! After all, high school is four years long, right? It can be easy to feel like the world is out to get you and no one wants to lend you a hand if you find yourself receiving one rejection letter after another, but remember: there are hundreds if not thousands of applicants around you. All it takes is one accepted scholarship to get the educational travel trip you want.

Travel with Junior Tours for the Educational Tour of a Lifetime

Ready to start planning your trip? At Junior Tours, we have planned countless trips for students across the country, creating awesome educational tours and study abroad trips that our participating schools and students will never forget.

Contact us today and see how we can help you with your next educational tour.