Scholarships for International Students

Posted by on in Study Abroad

One of the most difficult parts of studying abroad is coming up with the money. Besides program tuition, students must factor in airfare, any additional travel plans to get to their destination, food, souvenirs, travel to neighboring cities and countries, fees for clubs or other activities, and miscellaneous costs. Often this high cost of a study abroad trip deters many students. However, the benefits of the experience have the potential to far outweigh the costs.

As an international student, you have access to several options for financial aid to help offset study abroad costs. One alternative is to apply for scholarships. Scholarships for international students can provide the money you need to travel, study, and live abroad. Scholarships can be competitive, so it is best to begin the process of completing your study abroad scholarship applications as soon as possible. Below are types of scholarships for international students, ways to locate them, and information about how to apply for them.

Types of Study Abroad Scholarships

  • Program Specific Scholarships: If you are going to be studying abroad through a program like CIEE, you may be eligible for a scholarship offered by the organization that runs the program. In order to learn about these scholarships, you usually have to be one of the first to apply to the program and, more often than not, you will have to actively seek out the scholarship.
  • Educational Opportunity Scholarships: If planning to study abroad at an accredited university or college, you need to be aware that scholarships are available based on your course of study. These types of scholarships are usually pretty competitive and have stipulations such as where you are going to be studying.
  • Travel Scholarships: Some scholarships are awarded to students who wish to travel and enhance their understanding of cultures around the world. Boren Scholarships, for example, offer monetary assistance to students who want to travel, immerse themselves in a foreign culture, and hone their linguistic skills.
  • Merit-Based Scholarships: Merit-based scholarships are awarded to students who have strong academic records, show artistic talent, or compete in athletics. These areas, along with extracurricular activities, will be able to provide you scholarships based on your talents and interests.
  • Student Scholarships: Student scholarships are awarded based on factors such as race, age, gender, religion, family history, and medical history. You may not be able to apply to many of these scholarships because eligibility changes from person to person, and they may be offered fairly infrequently.

Study-Abroad Office

Most colleges and universities have a study abroad office or an international office that can assist you in the entire study abroad application process. From finding programs to applying to a program, they offer assistance in finding financial aid such as scholarships for international students. The people that work in these offices understand how much studying abroad can cost, and they also value and recognize the importance of the opportunity you have when you study abroad. If you are having trouble coming up with enough funding or difficulty finding scholarships to cover the cost of your study abroad experience, contact this office.

Yes, the cost of studying abroad is high, but that should not keep you from pursuing it. If you are truly committed and interested in studying abroad, take the time to find appropriate financial aid. Locating that financial aid can be tricky. Of course, you should visit your school’s study-abroad office. If that’s not an option, however, or you want to do your own research, here are some tips on finding international student scholarships.

It's possible that your new school offers scholarships specifically to international students. There may be a small application process, or you may become eligible simply by applying to the study abroad program.

  • Contact Your New School: One of the best ways to learn about available scholarships is to contact the school that you will attend. It’s possible that your new school offers scholarships specifically to international students. There may be a small application process, or you may become eligible simply by applying to the study abroad program.
  • Contact Your Current School: As much as your new school may be willing to help you out, your current school is just as likely to do the same. You may be surprised by how many students from your college or university travel abroad every year. Talk to some of those students about financial aid they found and look for the same or similar opportunities. By visiting your school’s study abroad office, you may be able to find some other great scholarships.
  • Visit It is no secret that many answers to life’s questions can be found online, and allows study abroad students to search for scholarship opportunities. The organization offers a list, which provides students with a quick overview of the scholarship and the accompanying requirements.
  • Contact Your Program: If you have been accepted to a program offered by an organization, there is a good chance that they have financial aid options of which you may not be aware of. By contacting your study abroad program, you may learn about each scholarship, who qualifies for it, and how to apply.

What You Will Need to Apply

Scholarships for international students come in all shapes and sizes. Some scholarships are awarded to students engaged in a specific area of study. Others are granted to students with outstanding GPAs and involvement in extracurricular activities. No matter the case, many scholarships will require supporting documents with your scholarship application. Here is some of the most common documentation you will need to apply for an international scholarship:

When applying for certain scholarships, you may be asked to provide samples or examples of the type of research, art, or other merit-based activities in which you participate.

  • Transcripts: No matter the type of scholarship for which you are applying, you will need at least one copy of your most current transcript. Most organizations offering any type of scholarship like to know the kind of student for whom they are providing financial aid. In order to best assess what kind of student you are, what your study interests are, and how you may handle your academic challenges while abroad, you will need to provide a transcript.
  • An Essay: Not all scholarship applications require an essay, but you may encounter a few that do. The topic of the essay will depend on the type of scholarship for which you are applying. An example of this might be writing an essay about the type of art you love in order to receive an artistic merit scholarship.
  • Samples and Examples: When applying for certain scholarships, you may be asked to provide samples or examples of the type of research, art, or other merit-based activities in which you participate. Using the example of the artistic scholarship from above, you will most likely have to provide a portfolio of your most recent work to establish your credibility and eligibility as an artist.
  • Passport: In order to travel abroad you will need a valid passport. With your passport, you will be able to enter a new country, return to your home country, and be able to travel around while you are studying abroad.
  • Visa: As an international student studying abroad for a longer period of time, you will need to apply for and obtain a student visa. In some cases, such as when studying in the U.S., the nature of your study and the length of stay will ultimately determine the type of visa you need.
  • Acceptance to a School or Program: To receive a scholarship to study abroad, you will have to prove acceptance to your chosen program or school. It may seem obvious that you have to be accepted before you apply for a scholarship, but it is important to know that there is a process you must follow.


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