Finding Scholarships for International Students: Tips and Resources


As an international student, heading to a whole new corner of the world can feel pretty overwhelming. But you know what can be even more challenging? Figuring out how to foot the bill for that education. 

Thankfully, there’s some good news – with financial aid and scholarship applications, the path to affording your higher education can start to look a tad less daunting.

Before we delve into finding scholarships, let’s quickly run through the common types of academic scholarships you can apply for.

Types of Scholarships to Consider Applying for

1. Financial/Need-based Scholarships

International students often get these scholarships if they can show they’re in a tight spot financially. To determine if you qualify, they usually check your family’s income, tax records, or even a detailed account of your financial situation.

2. Country-based Scholarships

These scholarships are for students from developing countries who are gearing up to study at a foreign university or are already there. Sometimes, they can be broader, covering students from a particular nation or those pursuing education in a specific country.

3. Merit Scholarships

Merit scholarships aren’t just for international students; they’re up for grabs for anyone who excels in academics, community service, sports, or other impressive endeavors. Many scholarships consider your merit, so it’s wise to include this type in your search when looking for ones that suit your qualifications.

4. Part Scholarships

You might come across scholarships that give you a one-time chunk of cash, which you can put toward your tuition and other school expenses. Don’t expect them to foot the entire bill for your higher education, but they can certainly make a nice dent in those costs.

5. Privately Funded Scholarships

Privately funded scholarships are ones where generous folks pitch in to support international students who fit specific criteria. These criteria could relate to the student’s home country, field of study, or other unique characteristics.

6. U.S. University Scholarships

These scholarships are for international students who are gearing up for or have already secured admission to a program in the United States. Interestingly, the specifics of these scholarships can vary depending on the university or state where you plan to pursue your education.

Now that we’ve talked about the kind of scholarships you can apply for, let’s discuss where to get them.

Where to Find Scholarships as an International Student

If you’re on the hunt for some “free” money to fund your education, there are three fantastic places to kickstart your search: College Board, Niche, and Fastweb. They’ve got user-friendly search tools that help you pinpoint the exact type of scholarship you need, and they’ll even filter out the ones that match your eligibility and merit. So, from these websites and beyond, let’s check out some top scholarships tailored to assist international students.

1. Foreign Fulbright Student Program

The Fulbright program is more than just your typical scholarship; it’s a full-fledged opportunity that lets its recipients study and delve into research in the United States. 

The application requirements and eligibility criteria can differ depending on your home country, but here’s an incredible stat – they grant this program to over 4,000 students yearly. It’s open to applicants from a whopping 70+ countries, so it’s worth checking out their various programs and all the requirements for your specific country of origin.

2. The Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship

This scholarship targets Master’s and Ph.D. students, and it covers the entire university cost for folks from developing countries with serious financial needs. They split the support right down the middle – 50% comes as grants, and the other 50% is in the form of loans. 

Meanwhile, there’s a catch: they’re only taking applications from students who hail from one of the 13 countries listed on their website under eligibility requirements, but there could be a few exceptions. They also examine your academic track record, future career goals, and work experience as part of the qualification criteria.

3. Ashinaga Africa Initiative

Here’s a scholarship tailor-made for African students with their sights set on studying in the United States. The primary goal of this initiative is to lend a hand to students who’ve faced the challenging situation of losing one or both of their parents. 

They’re pretty selective – they usually pick just one student per country to join their program, and you can find the list of qualifying countries on their website. To score this scholarship, you’ll need to demonstrate a solid high school academic track record and have a plan to head back to Africa once you finish your studies abroad.

4. The American Association of University Women

This scholarship is specifically for women studying in the U.S. who aren’t permanent residents or U.S. citizens. 

To be eligible, you should have already wrapped up your bachelor’s degree and be on the path toward a higher one, like a master’s, Ph.D., or postdoctoral program. When choosing who gets it, they look at your academic performance and how dedicated you are to championing women. Now, as for the cash, the amount you receive depends on the type of degree you’re chasing, but these one-time awards can range from $18,000 to $30,000.

5. MPOWER Women in STEM Scholarship

Here’s a scholarship specially set up for international or DACA female students diving into STEM at a university in the U.S. or Canada. 

To be in the running, you’ve got to be a full-time student, and they’ll be looking at the quality of your application essays, your academic track record, and how you’ve been a role model for other women and girls in STEM. Now, the grand prize is a cool $3,000 for one lucky recipient, and there are also two honorable mention prizes up for grabs – one at $1,000 and the other at $500.

6. DAAD Study Scholarship

This scholarship targets students in the final year of their undergraduate studies at a U.S. or Canadian university. If you snag this one, you’ll get the chance to pursue a complete master’s program or part of a postgraduate program at a university in Germany. 

Even international students can throw their hat in the ring. Still, there’s a catch – you need to have already received your undergraduate degree from a U.S. or Canadian university or have definite plans to do so. To apply, you’ll need to submit your resume, a letter of admission to a German university, and an essay outlining your study plans at that university.

Our Thoughts

Embarking on the quest for scholarships as an international student can be a thrilling yet demanding journey. But fear not! With the insights and resources we’ve covered in this blog post, you’re now well-prepared to navigate this path toward educational opportunities.

Remember that persistence, diligent research, and a structured strategy are your trusty companions in this pursuit. It’s vital to cast a wide net, submit applications to as many suitable scholarships as possible, and customize each application to highlight your distinctive qualities and ambitions.

Another powerful thing you can do is subscribe to a PTMA professional package that specifically helps you prepare for opportunities as an international student.

You can tap into the power of online databases, university websites, and international organizations to discover scholarships that perfectly match your academic and personal aspirations. And always remember the potentially life-changing influence these scholarships can wield on your educational voyage.

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