Tips from an Irvine College Consultant: International Scholarships 101
Many students dream of coming to the United States to attend college or university. With such an expansive geographical area, multiple cultures, climates, and every major imaginable, the USA is a fabulous place to get a postsecondary education. Unfortunately, international tuition is extremely expensive and the majority of students will need help of some kind. Fortunately, there are some fabulous scholarships available through private and public institutions and some universities are more generous at handing out scholarships and financial aid than others. Let’s take a look.
1. Foreign Fulbright Student Program
This scholarship offers a potential full-ride for an international student who would like to come to the USA in pursuit of a post baccalaureate degree, such as a Masters or PhD. This is a fabulous opportunity because, in addition to basic tuition and educational expenses, it also covers health insurance and even airfare. This particular scholarship is provided by the government rather than a specific college or university (READ: “8 Reasons Applicants Fail to Get Into the College of Their Choice”).
2. Money directly from universities
In addition to government scholarships, many universities offer either merit or need-based scholarships.
Some of these programs include the Amherst College scholarships, Arkansas University scholarships, Columbia College scholarships Cornell University scholarships and so on. A full list is available here.
Particularly impressive is the help offered from Berea College, where every admitted student can receive a four-year tuition scholarship. Colby-Sawyer College offers up to $24,000 per year in aid and Concordia College offers up to $25,000 per year.
3. Private institutions and non-government agency scholarships
The AAUW International Fellowship provides international female students with the opportunity to conduct full-time study or research in the US. This fellowship is for post baccalaureate study and can provide up to $18,000 for Masters Degree study and $20,000 for PhD study.
Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship Programme offers a small number of scholarships for postgraduate studies that can be used in the United States. This is meant for students who can find no other way to finance their studies.
Although a few extremely lucky international students will receive full scholarships or hefty aid packages, many students will find that education is partially funded through a scholarship but that they are responsible for the remainder. So what is the next step for students who need to come up with enough money to make ends meet during their international studies?
1. First off, always contact the financial aid offices of each college or university directly. Larger universities generally have some money set aside for international aid. However, it’s entirely up to the student to ask for and gather this information on their own.
2. Have a high score on the TOEFL. The majority of colleges and universities that give merit-based or need-based financial aid to international students from countries that don’t speak English, will require a high TOEFL score. The higher the score, the better the chances. International students who are hoping for aid packages should be prepared to take the TOEFL two or three times even if they are already conversational or fluent in English.
4. Beware of Scams!
There are many fabulous legitimate scholarships and financial aid packages out there, but international students coming to the USA are subject to people who are trying to scam students out of their hard-earned savings. Students should look out for a few red flags when applying for international scholarships (READ: “5 Tips For Your College Entrance Essay”).
1. Too good to be true? Programs that offer an incredibly large amount of money, or some sort of guarantee, or any other thing that seems too good to be true, probably is. Scholarship programs never give money away so it’s important that students watch out for this type of scam.
2. Money and fees. If the program asks for a hefty fee upfront or a lot of money to process the application, the applicant should be under alert. If the program advertises that they will give $100,000 in scholarship money in exchange for $250 upfront, it’s probably a scam.
3. Social media checks. Students can protect themselves by doing social media checks on suspicious scholarship programs. It’s highly likely that somebody who was scammed in the past will have written about it online. Any scholarship that looks even slightly suspicious should be a red flag for students to do an online background check. Always make sure to talk to somebody in person or on the phone, look for complaints, and get appropriate references. Always use your best judgment.
Although funding study in the United States can be very difficult, it’s a fabulous place to learn and live in, and at the end of the day there are so many great options for international students.
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