Financial instability shouldn't stop someone from considering a study abroad program. I had no clue how I was going to pay for a semester in New Zealand when I first started considering studying abroad. I soon learned after a bit of research that there is a lot of financial aid out there.
When you start considering going abroad, seek advice from an international affairs adviser at your home university. They can point you in the right direction and give you options for how to pay for your abroad experience.
If you are a student that receives federal pell grants you may be eligible for the Ben A. Gilman International Scholarship program.
The scholarship is offered through the United States Department of State. Students pursuing college credit overseas are eligible for up to $5,000. I was a Gilman recipient. The program is magnificent. I wouldn't have been able to study abroad without the Gilman Scholarship. The program gave me the chance of a lifetime. I encourage federal pell grant recipients to apply. The ratio of applicants to recipients is 3 to 1, which isn't bad. The program gave out 1,226 scholarship in the 2008-09 academic year.
If you are studying in the the Asia Pacific region the
Foundation for Asia Pacific Education offers an a outstanding scholarship. To apply you must be a U.S. or Canadian citizen enrolled in a North American college or university where transfer credit from an academic program abroad will be applied to your degree being earned. I was also a recipient of this scholarship. The combination of both scholarships and the financial aid from my U.S. university made it possible for me to study abroad. I am so thankful for both of these scholarships.
If neither scholarship works for you look at Web sites like Diversity Abroad or the Center for Global Education or AFIS.
Don't forget to check with your academic adviser to see if your university offers study abroad scholarships. Chances are, they do.
Good luck with finding aid!