Scholarships for International Students

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Can International Students Get Scholarships?

Many non-U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals may be eligible to receive federal aid. For instance, if you hold a green card, yes you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You may also be an eligible non-citizen if you:

  • Have an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94)
  • Hold a T-nonimmigrant status
  • Are a “battered immigrant qualified alien”
  • Are a citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the Republic of Palau

It is a good idea to check with your college or career school’s financial aid office though. Most states and colleges rely on the FAFSA to determine whether you are eligible for aid. But each may have their own rules and processes.

Can non-citizens get financial aid for college?

If you don’t meet any of the above criteria, there may be some scholarships and other aid you can get. To figure this out you might:

  • Check with your country’s embassy or with a consulate here in the U.S.
  • Look for a government office in your country that may offer aid
  • Ask the college or career school you plan to attend whether they offer scholarships for international students

How can I get free scholarships to study abroad?

Many students get federal student aid to help pay to study at international schools. This applies to both undergraduate and graduate levels.

There are different types of aid and procedures to follow depending on the kind of program it is. Is it a study abroad or full degree? Your status as an undergrad or grad student also plays a role in the type of aid for which you are eligible.

Study Abroad (one semester or one year)

You may receive federal student aid for a study-abroad program, if you meet the aid eligibility criteria. For this, you’ll need to fill out a FAFSA.

To help you figure these things out, you should contact the financial aid office at the U.S. school you plan to attend. Do so early as there may be paperwork to do in your international school too.

Earn a Degree from an International School

If you want to earn a degree at an international school, you may be able to get federal funding. Some international schools take part in federal aid programs. But, some of these kinds of aid are loans which you have to pay back.

Which countries give scholarships to international students?

Many countries give scholarships to international students. The United States is one. But if you are a U.S. citizen and want to earn your degree abroad, there may be options too.

For instance, you might study in China on Chinese government scholarships. Or, attend a tuition-free public university in Germany. Norway, Australia, Sweden are other countries you might consider.

Look for programs that interest you. Law for example. Then find out how to apply for a scholarship as an international student. One resource to check is the Fulbright Commission. Many countries in the U.K. take part in their programs.

Which U.S. Universities Give Scholarships to International Students?

A wide range of universities in the U.S. award scholarships to international students. Columbia University in New York City is one example. Columbia admits many international students. These are students who apply for and receive a large amount of financial aid.

Here are five schools in America that may extend funding to international students. Or, they may have programs for global scholars. These encourage international experiences. As such, the school may provide funding for related activities abroad while one is a studying in their university.

  1. American University
  2. Emory University
  3. Cornell University
  4. Brandeis University
  5. University of California - Berkeley

Why Consider an International Student Scholarship?

About 1,094,792 international students study at U.S. colleges and universities. One report found that these students contributed $39 billion to the U.S. economy. In fact, international students supported more than 455,000 jobs. All during the 2017-2018 academic year.

U.S. institutions offer a wide array of programs with various amounts for tuition and fees. Many offer international student scholarships. Or extend in-state tuition benefits, waived application fees and deadlines, and similar provisions.

This can make a big difference if you want to study in the states. Why? American schools often have two price tags for tuition. One for residents of the state you study in. The other for non-residents.

If you are a resident, you pay in-state tuition. But if you are not a resident (or international student) you pay out-of-state tuition. This can be several times more expensive.

For example, let’s look at the average cost of earning a bachelor’s degree. Recent figures show the average cost to attend an in-state school is $8,173. For an out-of-state school is $18,415. An international student scholarship, you may pay costs associated with out-of-state tuition.

Can International Students Get Full Scholarships?

Over 600 US universities offer scholarships worth $20,000 or more to international students. Of these, 250 offers ‘full ride’ scholarships. Full scholarships for international students pay the cost of tuition. Plus, other expenses like fees, meals and housing.

The Rotary Peace Fellowship is one such full-ride scholarship for international students. The scholarship covers tuition, fees, housing and travel costs. Also, things like internship and field study expenses. It is for international graduates who want to pursue a master’s degree in areas related to peace. This includes conflict prevention and resolution.

Need based scholarships for international students

Most often, a school calculates financial need by looking at how much your family can afford. Then subtracting this amount from the cost of attendance (COA).

Many schools fund the full financial need of admitted international students. These schools make 'need-aware' admissions. You may still need to be a strong applicant. But this may mean the school will take care of your full financial need.

Merit based scholarships for international students

Other universities are 'need-blind'. They do not base international students' admissions decision on financial status. Yet few U.S. schools are both 'need-blind' and offer full financial aid.

If a university is only able to meet a part of your financial need, you may be able to source extra funding. Resources might come from merit-based university and external scholarships. True they are more competitive but may still be worth applying to.

Colleges grant merit-based scholarships on the basis of skills, talents, or abilities. Some may use TOEFL scores or grade point average in their criteria. While others may favor artistic, musical, scientific or athletic ability.

Individual academic departments may also have funds set aside to help foreign students. This is why consulting the college or university you want to attend is key. They may be aware of unique opportunities.

How can I apply for an international scholarship?

Applying for an international student scholarship may vary from one school to another. Usually, there is some type of paperwork to complete. As a student from another country, this may be complex.

For one, you may have to brush up on your English writing skills. Many scholarships ask for an essay. Some also give a word count. So, you might have to nail the grammar, editing and get your message across in ‘500’ words or less.

Before you apply, you may also want to understand what your intended school values. It is common that American universities look for (grades, yes) and also character. Things like leadership, volunteer experience, being a good communicator and the like.

Also, keep your finances in mind. Depending on where you study and live, the cost of living (housing, food) varies a lot. Suburban or rural areas generally have lower costs than big cities. Plus, you want to understand the value of your currency. Researching exchange rates may be a useful way to budget for expenses.

Top 11 Scholarships for International Students for 2019

To start your search, here are some upcoming scholarships for international students. Find out how to apply!

Population Media Center Scholarship

Students from any part of the world who will be undergraduates in 2020 are encouraged to apply. No financial or GPA requirements!

Total: $1000 Awards:  4
Deadline:  May 15
2020

Starfleet Scholarships

STARFLEET is fan club for Star Trek fans. Divided into hundreds of local Chapters, each is named as a different starship or space station. Scholarships are awarded in amounts of up to $1,000 based on number of applicants and availability of funds.

Total: $1000 Awards:  10
Deadline:  June 15
2020

AAUW International Fellowship

This fellowship is offered to female international graduate students who have completed the required coursework for a bachelor's degree.

Total: $30000 Awards:  47
Deadline:  November 15
2020

2020 Overcoming Adversity Scholarship

Must be a undergraduate or graduate or GED holder with a GPA of 3.0 and higher to be eligible. A detailed essay on how the applicant has encountered and overcame hardship is required.

Total: $1000 Awards:  1000
Deadline:  November 30
2020

Fulbright Foreign Student Program

The Fulbright Foreign Student Program began in 1945 as the idea of U.S. Senator William J. Fulbright. He was interested in establishing international partnerships. Today, the Fulbright Foreign Student Program enables graduate students, young professionals and artists from abroad to study and conduct research in the United States. It operates in more than 155 countries worldwide. About 4,000 foreign students receive Fulbright scholarships each year.

Total: $50000 Awards:  4000
Deadline: 

Germany Scholarship Program

The Germany Scholarship Program is available for students from all over the world. Modelled after a public-private partnership, the Deutschlandstipendium (Germany Scholarship Program ) provides financial and non-material support to high-achieving and committed students from all over the world. The scholarship is awarded without consideration of personal or parent income and one’s nationality is not material to award either.

Total: $10000 Awards:  100
Deadline: 

Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program

The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program aims to help develop Africa’s next generation of leaders. The Program provides financial, social, and academic support to Scholars. Financial support includes, but is not limited to, tuition fees, accommodation, books, and other scholastic materials. The scope of majors and degrees eligible for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program varies from institution to institution.

Total: $50000 Awards:  50000
Deadline: 

Rotary Peace Fellowships

Each year, Rotary International provides scholarship awards up to 100 fully funded fellowships for dedicated leaders from around the world to study at one of their peace centers. Certificate applicants need at least three years of related full-time work or volunteer experience, five years of related full-time work or volunteer experience.

Total: $50000 Awards:  100
Deadline: 

The Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program

The Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program honors the late Vice President and his exemplary leadership. Humphrey was both a statesman and champion of human rights. The Humphrey Program brings young and mid-career professionals from specific countries to the United States for a year. During this time of non-degree graduate-level study, students work to develop leadership and professional collaboration with U.S. counterparts. The program places students at U.S. universities that take part. As a non...

Total: $50000 Awards:  200
Deadline: 

Rhodes Scholarship

The Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest (first awarded in 1902) and perhaps most prestigious international scholarship program. It enables talented young people from around the world to study at the University of Oxford. Rhodes scholars are people of intellect, character, leadership and commitment to service. It is available to students from the following countries: Australia, Bermuda, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica & the Commonwealth Caribbean, Kenya, New Zealand, Pakistan, Southern Af...

Total: $50000 Awards:  95
Deadline:  September 30

Fulbright U.S. Student Program - English Teaching Assistantship (ETA)

This award is available to U.S. graduating college seniors, graduate students, and young professionals who are planning to study abroad. Students must propose a study or research project at a country outside of the U.S. and demonstrate the academic ability and feasibility to pursue the proposed program.

Total: $50000 Awards:  981
Deadline:  October 08

Chevening Scholarship

Chevening is the UK Government’s international awards plan aimed at developing global leaders. Recipients show outstanding credentials and leadership potential. The scholarship is usually for a one-year master’s degree and covers tuition fees, a living allowance, a return airfare to the UK and any other essential costs.

Total: $50000 Awards:  700
Deadline:  November 05