The Benjamin A. Gilman scholarship, which aims to provide financial assistance to students seeking a three-month long study abroad opportunity, is open to all U.S. citizens who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding at two-year or four-year colleges or universities.
“Community college students are highly encouraged to apply,” said Li Liu, study abroad coordinator and instructor at Bellevue College. “Community college students are underrepresented in the pool of applicants. Usually a lot of university students will apply for the scholarship, because it’s a well-known scholarship that has been in place for quite a long time.”
The scholarship is geared towards students who otherwise might not be able to afford studying abroad. Last year, one BC student was granted $1,000 to help fund their study abroad trip.
“You can win up to $5,000,” Liu added, but the total amount given depends on the decision made by the designated committee. The scholarship’s informational website said that the average award is $4,000. “In addition to the money, you get that precious line on your resume,” she said. “It’s something that will really help you stand out.”
There is a list of languages that are considered “critical need” languages. Liu explained that whether a language is considered “critical need” is determined by National Department of Defense.
According to Liu, “We want more citizens of the United States to be fluent, or at least have some knowledge of those languages,” in order to gain knowledge about those cultures and languages for political reasons, military and defense purposes, along with the personal enrichment that students receive. Students who are awarded the Gilman scholarship are eligible to receive a Critical Need Language Award from the Gilman Scholarship Programs, which would grant them $8,000.
The scholarship particularly supports sending U.S. students to study in countries whose main language is any of those dialects, which include, but are not limited to, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Turkic. Applicants need to have a specific program and destination on their mind, which will help the committee allot money based on the cost of the program as well as according to how the student expressed their intentions and plans. “You want to make a commitment,” Liu said, “so you can say ‘If I’m funded to go for this study abroad trip, I’m going back to my home institution, to my own college, and I plan to share what I have learned to the local community.’”
The Gilman scholarship is set apart from more common continental U.S. scholarships because it supports students to visit and learn in coudtries other than the one they are originally from.
Any interested students can contact Liu by emailing email@example.com, calling (425) 564-2646 or visiting her at her office, R230P.