PURPOSE OF PROGRAM
At AFS Greater Los Angeles, we believe that every student should have access to a life changing AFS experience unlimited by ability to pay. We emphasize year programs because they are the most life changing. We also provide scholarships for six or eight week summer programs provided those programs are challenging; e.g., Thailand, Egypt, or community service programs. In the past eight years, we have given scholarships to 60 students and the program is growing. We provide students with everything from a $1000 scholarship to one that pays for an entire program, transportation, passport and visa costs, and even winter clothing.
Our program is school based. We work closely with LAUSD and charter schools and their counselors to ensure the student receives high school credit for their year abroad. Counselors also help students complete applications. In some cases, schools contribute funds to support the costs of the program.
In addition to our school program, we support individual students who have sought financial aid through completion of a FAST application for financial aid with AFS USA, when we have funds. Any student who is not in one of our schools, should contact [email protected] for additional information on our scholarships.
Here are the steps needed to receive an AFS Greater Los Angeles scholarship:
1. FAST APPLICATION TO AFS USA FOR NEEDS-BASED SCHOLARSHIPS
The student application process is generally the same for Summer or Year students. The student must first qualify for a needs-based scholarship through submitting a FAST application to AFS USA for a Global Leadership Scholarship (a needs based scholarship given by AFS USA). In recent years, AFS has charged $35 to submit the FAST application. We ask parents to pay the fee, because it invests them in the process. If they cannot, AFS USA typically will waive the fee. The FAST application primarily consists of parents submitting tax returns. Many of our families do not have tax returns. AFS USA is accustomed to this issue with our students and knows how to handle it. Lack of tax returns is no obstacle.
Last year, AFS USA awarded on average $2,000/student applying for a Global Leadership needs based scholarship for a year program. For Summer students it was $1,450. Global Leaders Scholarship funds from AFS USA are awarded on a first come first serve basis. Thus it is of critical importance that our students apply for the FAST application ASAP, usually in the fall.
Any student who qualifies for a Global Leadership needs based scholarship through AFS USA automatically qualifies for a needs based scholarship with AFS Greater Los Angeles.
2. LOCAL NEEDS-BASED SCHOLARSHIPS
We make a decision on the amount of scholarship based upon three factors:
- Our interview with the student (we conduct an in home Form 8 interview with potential scholarship candidates applying for Summer and Year programs);
- The student’s participation in fundraising activities locally, as requested; and
- The student’s willingness, as evidenced by their agreement with us, to help pay it forward; i.e., help fundraise so that we can send more students in the future.
Our interview with the student is very important because, in home, we can assess the student’s financial condition. If the student’s family owns a home or has many cars, that student likely can pay more for the experience than a student who is sleeping on the floor in a one room apartment. We have provided scholarships from $2000 up to complete scholarships, including warm clothes and rain gear, visas and flights to the departure city. (The tuition pays for the overseas flight. LA is the departure city for students going to Asia. For other countries, the departure city may be NY or Miami). We usually require parents to pay something so that they are invested in the experience. Last year, most families paid $1000, but some paid more and some less. We usually don’t pay airfare to departure cities for summer program students; however, we do and have made exceptions on a case by case basis.
We typically have a couple of student fundraisers during the year. These are simple affairs (gift wrapping at the holidays or hot dogs in the park). Although these do not raise a significant amount of money, they are important for our students to bond with each other and also to contribute to the AFS family. A student who never participates in an AFS fundraising event—unless significant mitigating circumstances are present—likely will not receive a scholarship from us.
SPECIAL INFORMATION ABOUT YEAR PROGRAMS
Year programs pose special challenges for college counselors. It is important to know this because until a counselor actually sees the value of the program; i.e., that the student is completely changed, gets into Harvard or the like, the counselor may be uncomfortable promoting a year program. That’s okay. Once the counselor sees the value of the program in students going on summer programs, the counselor may be willing to take the leap with a year program.
The challenge with a year away from school is that the student will miss a year of credits. There are a number of things that can be done to ensure the student receives credit for the year abroad, so they are not required to repeat a grade upon return. First, we have found that it is much easier to send a junior on a year program than a senior. As a sophomore planning to go overseas, the student can take summer school classes, online classes or classes at a local city college, to receive credit for those classes that cannot be taken overseas. Second, when the student returns as a senior, the student can also take make up classes in the same manner. Third, the student can work with the college counselor on the classes he/she will take abroad. The student should be able to get language credits, math credits, art credits and elective credits in their host country. The student will be able to obtain proof of his/her classes and grades/credits assigned to them to bring back to the school. In addition to the above, juniors do not have to worry about applying to college or taking the SATs.
There is at least one other point to know about year programs: The students who go on year programs must be accepted by the host country, after a review of their applications, and based upon the criteria set by the host country. Host country’s typically set GPA limits for year (not summer) students. Usually it is around 2.8, although each country is different. The GPA number is not rigid. Germany took one of our students who had a 2.6 GPA, upon review of her application and our request. The student did well and is in college now.
OTHER PROGRAM CONSIDERATIONS
In order to obtain a student visa, necessary to go abroad on an AFS experience, a student must be documented.
As mentioned above, we typically ask the parents to pay the following (and with time even poor families are usually able to do this);
- AFS USA Pre app fee of $75, however, with this code it is $50. VOLd5Xp9632. AFS USA also typically has promotions on its web site that reduce the pre app fee to $25
- FAST app fee. $35
- Passport/Visa fees
- On a sliding scale, some part of the tuition
- Cost of round trip ticket to departure city
However, because our mission is that all students go regardless of ability to pay, we will and have paid all of these items.
For more information about our local needs-based scholarships, please contact us at [email protected].
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