Here’s the deal. All a costly study abroad program does is show the colleges that you have money to afford such a program. Are they impressed by your work in Africa? Not really. You just look like every other kid with money who does study abroad to look good. Are they bad? No, they just aren’t helpful.
So what do you do to stand out? Spend some serious time volunteering. It can be in another country if you wish but it certainly doesn’t need to be. The are plenty of areas of need in the US. Probably some near you.
Another idea to standout include developing your passion, whatever that might be.Maybe even getting a job in an area that relates to your passion.
But you don’t need to spend money to impress colleges.